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From large funding successes and new team members, through visits by Heads of State, to COP26 in Glasgow and sustained collaborations with national governments and agencies, 2021 has been a hugely successful and demanding year for the newly rebranded Edinburgh Climate Change Institute.

We kicked off the year with the launch of our rebrand, as staff worked with the directors on creating and realising the refreshed vision for ECCI for the near and longer term. This included a renewed focus on enabling climate change action in Scotland and the UK, enhancement of education and skills provision for net zero; greater integration with colleagues across ECCI, the School of Geosciences and the wider University of Edinburgh; and leadership for the University on climate change activities with external partners.

Throughout the year, ECCI community members continued to cope with the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and its impacts on working practices and wellbeing. Our colleagues have shown incredible resilience and support for one another throughout, and have managed an astounding level of success and quality of delivery to boot - driving forwards resilience and zero carbon action across Scotland and beyond. Highlights from the community, including from SNIFFER, Wave Energy Scotland, ClimateXChange, Sustainable Scotland Network, Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage, and the Climate Partnerships and Business Development teams, are summarised below.

In July, Her Majesty The Queen and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited ECCI at the launch of the Edinburgh Earth Initiative. It was an opportunity to showcase ECCI’s work in the last 10 years as an inclusive hub for climate researchers, policy makers, businesses, students and educators, and the wider University’s contribution in the fight against climate change. More to come on the Edinburgh Earth Initiative in 2022...

As we counted down to COP26 - the vital global conference that tackles the climate crisis, held in Glasgow in November 2021 - we launched ECCI’s COP26 blog series, profiling voices from across ECCI's community of climate experts, researchers, students and practitioners; and supported the launch of Climate Beacons for COP26 – aimed at stimulating long-term public engagement between environmental and arts organisations in the lead up to COP26.

For the COP, a significant role for ECCI and the University of Edinburgh was to help ensure that the latest relevant research findings were summarised in ways that supported the negotiators to make vital bold commitments. This included working with the COP26 Universities Network, led on behalf of the University of Edinburgh by ECCI director Prof Dave Reay, working towards a successful conference in 2021 with partners across the UK.

As the conference got underway, a wide array of climate change-related research from the University of Edinburgh and ECCI was showcased by the tireless work of ECCI's directors - Prof Dave Reay and Dr Kate Crowley - and team members at COP26 side-events and through research initiatives and collaborations. These included foregrounding the issue of green skills and education, cutting emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use change and showcasing the importance of place-based solutions. Check out our COP26 page for resources, recordings, blogs and reflections.

Thank you to all ECCI community members, staff, students and collaborators for their dedication to climate action this year. Watch this space for all the latest action from ECCI in 2022...

Highlights from the ECCI community

Business Development - the team is a gateway to the knowledge in the University of Edinburgh

  • Kristina Tamane walked away with the Rising Star Award from the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) NextGen Network.
  • Contribured to the Images of Climate Innovation from across the University of Edinburgh at the COP26 Innovation Showcase.
  • Coordinated academics and industry partners through the bid process and negotiated the formal collaboration between the parties on Phase 1 projects for the Direct air capture and greenhouse gas removal programme: The Biochar Network – A Road to Demonstration and Beyond – Sofies Group and The Integration of Biochar and Enhanced Mineral Weathering Carbon Capture Technologies into Linear Infrastructure Projects - Arup
  • SPRINT national space network phase 1 extension to June 2022. Scottish Funding Council continued support for Kristina Tamane in her role as Space Business Development Executive in GeoSciences.

Partnerships team - the team helps build and support partnerships between organisations who can deliver real change

  • The launch of the £1M programme with NatWest to help SMEs transition to a zero carbon economy.
  • Key role in delivering the PCAN project, which is being held up by ESRC as their best example of a climate impact project.
  • Key role in setting Edinburgh on a pathway to net zero by 2030, by helping develop the city strategy and action plan.
  • Supporting the creation of the Edinburgh Climate Compact, bringing together diverse city partners in a shared commitment to net zero.
  • Working with Scottish Government and Scottish Cities Alliance to support delivery of Scotland’s 2045 net zero target through the Carbon Scenario tool and capacity building across the 6 cities.

SNIFFER and Adaptation Scotland – a charity that provide advice and support to help Scotland be prepared and resilience to the effects of climate change.

  • Completing and launching pioneering climate adaptation strategy and action plan for Glasgow City Region.
  • Co-organising with Scottish Government a National Climate Resilience Summit.
  • Completing a Strategic Business Case for Edinburgh and South East Scotland Climate Risk assessment.
  • Collaborating with and producing an adaptation guidance handbook for the Trade Union Movement.

Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage – the largest CCS research group in the UK, coordinating all aspects of CCS in Scotland.

  • SCCS is partner in Horizon 2020’s PilotSTRATEGY project, an ambitious international CO2 storage project to support the development of low-carbon energy and industry in southern and eastern Europe has commenced with funding from the European Union.
  • Scotland’s Net Zero Roadmap (SNZR) project, which includes industry partners and two SCCS institutes - The University of Edinburgh and University of Strathclyde, has won a £1.23 million share of the UK Government's £8m fund to support the decarbonisation of six major industrial areas.
  • Across October and November, the 5th run of the UoE CCS MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) - Climate Change: Carbon Capture and Storage - attracted around 2,000 participants. In total, since it began in 2018, the course has been taken by over 19,000 people.
  • In Autumn 2021, SCCS began working on the EUR3.4M EU ACT3 EverLoNG project. The 3-year project will focus on ship-based carbon capture on LNG-fuelled ships. SCCS is involved in knowledge exchange and dissemination and technical work looking at port infrastructure.

Sustainable Scotland Network – Scotland’s largest network of public section sustainability professionals

  • Guidance and Advice on Public Sector Climate Leadership and Action - Working in partnership with Scottish Government to co-produce new guidance for Public Sector Leadership on the Climate Emergency; Development of the concept and infrastructure for the SSN Manual which will supplement the Scottish Government/SSN Guidance.
  • Public Bodies Climate Change Duties mandatory reporting - Managing mandatory reporting on behalf of Scottish Government, providing support to all public sector major players (circa. 180 public bodies), to enable submission of reports, analysis of data and production of overview analysis report (due March 2022).
  • Capacity building, education, training and policy support to public bodies - Providing an active programme of events, resources and communications to support public bodies on climate change and sustainability, including regulation national Local Authority Forum events, supporting regional public sector network development, holding a national SSN Conference, and engaging in a wide range of projects and policy networks to promote awareness, build knowledge and promote good practice on climate action towards net zero.
  • Supporting Partnership Projects - Collaboration on the Scottish Funding Council project at UoE on the climate emergency, looking at net zero public sector estates; Being a project partner on the Place Standard Tool with a Climate Lens project; Securing a tender with Scottish Canals to support their Net Zero strategy and action plan; Providing support to the Climate Beacons project on culture and climate action led by Creative Carbon Scotland; Supporting the Ayrshire Regional Net Zero and Green Recovery network initiative.

Wave Energy Scotland – Accelerates development of cost effective wave energy technology for deployment in Scotland.

  • WES, along with partners in the Basque Country, announced 7 successful projects to be funded through the EuropeWave programme – a version of the Scottish Government initiative funded by the European Commission. Projects will start in January.
  • One of the wave energy devices funded through the WES programme has completed at sea testing in EMEC - started only 6 years ago, and have been supported by the University of Edinburgh during that time, both through Edinburgh Innovations and having access to the world class test facilities at FloWave.
  • Staff and technology of WES were featured in the Channel5 #RoadToCOP26 series.
  • Working alongside co-authors including the US Department of Energy and the European Commission, WES worked on a publication for the International Energy Agency, published in January 2021