A new network of university researchers launched on April 2: the International Universities Climate Alliance (IUCA) . The network will showcase climate change research from 40 universities in 18 countries , with a wide range of disciplinary expertise, including engineering, economics, law, social science and planning, as well as climate science.
With a website tag line, “Collaborating for Climate Impact”, the IUCA states in its official press release :
“Alliance members are to work together to identify the most effective ways to communicate research-based facts related to climate change to the public. Members will engage in work across climate change science, impact, mitigation strategies and adaptation.”
The network is spearheaded by the University of New South Wales,Sydney, and also includes the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London, the Sorbonne, and from Australia, University of Melbourne and Monash University as well as the UNSW. From Canada, only McGill University in Montreal is included so far in the full list of member universities, here . A deliberate strategy was to include universities from emerging economies in the group.
The decision to launch now, amidst the “information saturation” of Covid-19 was explained in a press release from the University of New South Wales:
“This new platform is needed now more than ever as the world grapples with providing a coordinated approach to tackling climate change. …Notwithstanding current urgencies around the COVID-19 pandemic, the alliance members decided not to delay the formation of the alliance due to the pressing and ongoing need to accelerate climate change mitigation and improve decision making.”
That theme is expanded in a related press release on April 1, titled simply: Climate change mitigation can’t wait for Covid-19 to play out.
An expanding role for experts
The experts in the new International Universities Climate Alliance (IUCA) may benefit from the important and highly visible role of scientific experts in the fight against the pandemic. Lesson #1 in Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood’s blog, 6 lessons for climate action from Canada’s COVID-19 response is “Listen to scientists.” He argues: “At every stage of this pandemic, the public narrative and the associated policy response has largely been guided by epidemiologists and public health officials. ….Yet climate scientists are still sidelined in the public discourse and climate policy is still guided more by short-term political considerations than physical evidence. The climate crisis demands a more central role for climate science.”
Another recent comment in “After the Coronavirus, Two Sharply Divergent Paths on Climate” from Yale350 (April 7) states: “Some policy experts are optimistic that victory over the coronavirus will instill greater appreciation for what government, science, and business can do to tackle climate change. But others believe the economic damage caused by the virus will set back climate efforts for years to come.” The article outlines the two approaches, with a general view that the politics of the U.S. may continue to conspire against informed fight against climate change, while the EU will continue to follow a more evidence-driven path.