BBE professor reflects on attending the COP26 UN Climate Summit

By Dr. Roger Ruan

I was fortunate to be selected to observe the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland this November 2021. Over 30,000 people from over 200 countries attended the Conference, including current and former government leaders, nonprofit organizations, and myriad environmental, business, research, and social groups, all motivated to meet the 1.5 ºC Paris climate goal.

My first thought was how impressive! So many individuals invested their valuable time and effort into dealing with this issue. In addition to official conference attendees, hundreds of protestors thronged outside the entrance area to the conference each day, making their voices heard on different facets of the climate issue. The combined efforts of so many represent positive steps toward fairer and more practical world climate policies.

That said, I believe an opportunity was missed to showcase more budding technologies that, with the right levels of investment, could be deployed to address climate change around the world. Policymaking is but the first step; rapid innovation in green technologies is the essential next to achieve our climate goals. Today, many innovative green technologies exist in prototype form but are too inefficient or expensive to deploy at scale. However, with additional refinement, they have the power to serve as disruptive solutions to climate change. These are the areas that governments and private investors should be investing more in today.

US Congresswoman Betty McCollum, representing Minnesota's 4th congressional district, met with most of the Minnesota Observers at the COP26, organized by Ms. Ellen Anderson, former member of the Minnesota Senate who represented District 66, and current Executive Director of the Energy Transition Lab, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota Law School.