2021 Special Focus: Responding to Climate Change as an Emergency

There is a greater need than ever for urgent and far-reaching responses to climate change. A series of unfolding disasters, in the here and now, bear the fingerprints of the climate crisis. And the science is clear. Continuing on our current trajectory will lead to further devastating impacts. According to the IPCC, limiting warming to 1.5C versus 2C could be the difference between several hundred million more people exposed to climate-related risks and poverty. The Paris Agreement set out obligations in line with this warning, but current policies are moving us towards a 3C world – or worse.

Pressure has been growing across civil society, for all sectors of society to face up to these problems in an honest and convincing manner. From small towns, to businesses, universities, cities, and countries – there has been recognition and formal declarations of climate emergency. Vancouver, the host city for the Thirteenth International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts & Responses itself declared a Climate Emergency in January 2019, and has committed to take action to reduce emissions in line with a 1.5C target by cutting emissions by 50% by 2030. At the same time, however, the city acknowledges that current progress is not enough and must be accelerated. Meanwhile, in Northern British Columbia, indigenous groups are fighting the construction of gas and oil sand pipelines.

The Thirteenth International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts & Responses puts the Climate Emergency front and centre of our shared deliberations. The focus of the conference is how we can work across sectors to create the action required, whilst tackling the related crises of ecological destruction, and responding to problems of social inequality and deprivation. The conference provides a place we can share, test and initiate our transformational ideas – how do we move beyond incremental change? Do we need work together in ways that have not yet been tested - how? Do we need to redefine the purpose of our sector-based activities - how? What, particularly, is the role of academia and does responding to the Climate Emergency require foundational change to how we see the role of academia in society?

We welcome delegates and contributors from academia, grassroots organisations, government, the business community and beyond. Change is needed in all parts of the system and through collaboration between those parts, and hence we invite reflections and insights from researchers, practitioners and activists around the world.

To reflect our own recognition of the need to do things differently, the 2021 conference will welcome and enable virtual participation, particularly to minimise the need for travel by plane to Vancouver.

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