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The Centre for Climate Engagement turns two

The Centre for Climate Engagement had its second birthday last week just ahead of the biggest climate event of the year – COP26 in Glasgow.

So what has the Centre achieved so far and how can you get involved?

Two Ground-breaking Board Networks

The genesis of the Centre was a recognition that Chairs and non-executive directors (NEDs) have a critical role to play in business action to address climate change and yet they don’t get much support in building their understanding of how to do it. To address this, the Centre supported the development of the first network in the UK to bring together Chairs and NEDs to discuss climate change, raise awareness of the solutions and importantly, provide the tools they need to bring effective climate governance into the boardroom. The network is called Chapter Zero and it has gone from just an idea to a thriving group of over 1700 NEDs in just two years – quite an achievement.

One of the cornerstones of the early work of Chapter Zero was the socialisation of the  World Economic Forum’s Principles for Effective Climate Governance. And in parallel to Chapter Zero in the UK, networks of NEDs were mobilising in Italy and Malaysia to set up their own local networks as part of the global Climate Governance Initiative. In 2020, the Centre took on the secretariat role of the Climate Governance Initiative in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and has been supporting the growth of this ground-breaking global network of Chapters around the world.

There are now 16 Chapters around the world reaching over 100,000 NEDs globally and the Centre will continue to support and accelerate capability building on boards to improve climate governance to ensure businesses are developing and implementing net-zero transition plans to address climate change.

Two Key Moments at COP26

COP26 is being hosted in the UK this year and is a critical milestone for governments to increase their commitments, six years on from the historic formation of the Paris Agreement. The Centre is focussed on two key moments this week. On 2nd November, the Climate Governance Initiative – a unique global network of Chapters that engage Chairs and Non-Executive Boards Directors to take climate action – launched a statement highlighting the important role they play in addressing climate change. As the Secretariat for this group, the Centre will continue to support global growth and capacity building on boards.

Today (5th Nov), Emily Farnworth will be speaking at Climate Law and Governance Day, COP26. The University of Cambridge has been a core partner in the event through the Climate Law and Governance Initiative and the Centre will build on the discussions, ideas and suggestions for action coming out of this conference to help shape the role the Centre will play in this area of research that will be instrumental in delivering emissions reductions and building climate resilience.

Two Important University Partnerships

 The Centre has two important partnerships within the University – one with Cambridge Zero and one with the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP). Our engagement with boards is part of the Cambridge Zero pillar focused on Sustainability in business and together with CSaP we co-host the Cambridge Zero Policy Forum to bring together over 50 senior academics from across the University interested in addressing climate change. The most recent discussions on the role of nature-based solutions for carbon offsetting led to the publication of a report that highlights the work across the University and provides critical insights for decision makers considering how to invest in nature as part of their net-zero strategy.

Two Directors

The growth of activity across the NED networks meant a need to grow the leadership team at the Centre and Emily Farnworth came on board to work alongside Julie Baddeley earlier this year. As Co-Directors the Centre benefits from the deep experience they bring from over 75 years of collective experience working with businesses and government leaders.

Two New Climate Law Research Posts

The Centre is building research capability at the University with a particular focus on strengthening expertise in climate law. There are currently two new positions open for Law Post Docs in Climate Law and Governance (see Hughes Hall Vacancies for details of how to apply). This is an incredible opportunity for two early career researchers to join the team and support insight and understanding into how corporate law is – and should – be evolving to accelerate climate action in addition to a focus on the role public law plays in extending powers of local authorities to take bolder steps around planning and infrastructure development a local level to support the delivery of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy.

The Centre is looking forward to seeing what the next two years will bring and if you would like to be part of their journey, do get in touch – Contact – Centre for Climate Engagement.

Copy by Emily Farnworth, Hughes Hall Centre for Climate Engagement.

To tell us your news, email comms@hughes.cam.ac.uk.