As 197 countries, in addition to hundreds of activists, scientists and industry representatives, gather in Glasgow, United Kingdom, for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP26) during the first two weeks of November, CU Boulder experts in climate change science and policy are available to discuss what’s on the agenda, what’s at stake and what likely outcomes may be from this year’s event. They can also give context to the work still ahead of us to maintain a healthy, stable planet. 

Monday, Nov. 1, CU Boulder and UN Human Rights also announced plans to co-host the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit in the fall of 2022. The summit is designed to engage human rights, scientific, political, educational, cultural and industry leaders to commit to specific goals that will help to slow climate change and address its adverse effects on human rights. 

On Nov. 3, more than 30 celebrities—including Leonardo DiCaprio and Cher—teamed up with the Right Here, Right Now Climate Alliance and its global partner United Nations Human Rights to make an urgent plea to 120+ world leaders assembling at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow through Nov. 12, 2021. They kicked off this multi-year initiative with a Climate Crisis “Cause Flash” social campaign aiming to mobilize over 650 million followers to push for action from heads of state at the summit to accelerate the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

On Nov. 4, the University of Colorado Athletic Department elevated its status as a national leader in sports sustainability, becoming the first collegiate athletic department to announce it is joining the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign. Core to the commitment is CU Athletics' pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieve Net Zero by 2040. 

Curbing methane emissions

On Tuesday, Nov. 2 in Glasgow, the Biden administration announced new rules to limit methane emissions from oil and gas drilling as well as actions aimed at protecting forests globally. Methane—one of the most potent greenhouse gases—contributes to about a third of the world's global warming. These CU Boulder-affiliated scientists can discuss carbon monitoring and carbon-climate mitigation challenges.

Greg Rieker is an associate professor in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering and co-founder of LongPath Technologies, a company that develops tools to detect methane leaks at oil and gas sites. He is available to discuss how methane emissions are regulated and efforts in the U.S. to reduce these emissions.

Caroline Alden is a research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at CU Boulder. Alden works with Professor Rieker to develop tools for the detection, quantification, and attribution of leaks of methane and other hydrocarbons during natural gas production, distribution and storage. 

Xin Lan is a research scientist at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Lab, a partner of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). Her current research investigates atmospheric methane trends in the U.S. to infer trends in emissions (e.g. oil and natural gas emissions), global methane trends and global carbon dioxide budgets.

Policy and media

Marilyn Averill, senior fellow with the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School, has been following and attending the UNFCCC climate negotiations since 2003. She is a member of the steering committee for the Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (RINGOs), one of the nine civil society constituencies to the UNFCCC secretariat. She can speak to the history of this annual gathering, what it has previously accomplished in the realm of climate change policy and action, and what is on the table at this event in 2021. 

Max Boykoff, associate professor in environmental studies and fellow in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), has attended six previous UNFCCC conferences and is a Working Group III author on the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. He can speak about the societal considerations and implications involved in the negotiations at COP26, and his work monitoring media coverage of climate change as part of the Media and Climate Change Observatory (MeCCO)

Arctic climate impacts

Mark C. Serreze is a distinguished professor of geography, a fellow of the CU Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). He specializes in Arctic climate research, and has testified on the topic before the U.S. Congress, as well as is a frequent media contact on issues of climate and climate change. He can discuss what COP26 could mean for the Arctic, and his research, which has increasingly focused on making sense of the rapid environmental changes unfolding in the Arctic and what they mean for the rest of the planet. 

Human Rights 

Kristen Carpenter is a professor of law and director of the American Indian Law Program at the University of Colorado Law School. Carpenter recently concluded two terms as the North American member of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and she currently teaches and writes in the areas of American Indian law, human rights law and Indigenous Peoples in international law. She can discuss the impacts of climate change on Indigenous Peoples and representation of Indigenous Peoples at COP26.