Met Office Science Conference 2021


In November 2021 the UK, in partnership with Italy, hosted the COP26 meeting in Glasgow. This was the crucial climate summit at which nations will be asked to step up their ambitions towards tackling climate change.

The task – to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by the middle of the century as required by the Paris agreement of 2015 – is daunting and at times success can seem hopeless. Yet hope there is, of technological and societal solutions to achieving net zero emissions, and of strategies to ensure societies around the world are more resilient to the vagaries of weather and climate. Science and innovation have large roles to play in helping steer our world towards a more sustainable future. And this hope remains, even in the face of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, a key part of which will be seeking to ensure that this is carried out in a way that is consistent with the climate goals set out under the COP process and that takes account of any learning and opportunities presented by the response to the pandemic.

During this crucial year for addressing the climate crisis, the Met Office Hadley Centre, having recently marked its thirtieth anniversary in 2020, hosted a conference on the theme of net zero and climate resilience that will help set the agenda for the development of science for policy over the next decade.

The meeting brought together leading scientists and policy makers, young people, community representatives and science communicators from around the world. Its aim was to set out a vision for how climate science and services can be harnessed in support of the ambitions of diverse societies worldwide to build a more sustainable, more resilient low carbon future. Its legacy was to lay out a scientific agenda to inform climate policy post COP26.

Conference themes

  • Current and future risks from weather and climate
  • High impact, low likelihood outcomes of climate change (including tipping points)
  • Future carbon and mitigation strategies to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.
  • Climate resilient development: minimising impacts and trade-offs, and maximising the co-benefits of mitigation and adaptation
  • Pan-Africa perspectives within the context of the four main conference themes, looking at the past, the present and the future over the next decade or so. Three sessions: Science perspectives, Technological Entrepreneurship Youth and Policy

Our aim was for this to be an innovative and diverse conference with net zero carbon footprint with remote participation facilities and engagement from participants worldwide.

Conference conclusions

This scribe from Three Blind Mice highlights some of the important themes captured during the closing addresses of the conference.

You may also like to watch this poetic summary of the conference by poet Mr Gee @mrgeepoet

In addition, below are details of the successes of the conference.

Conference - science recommendations

Following robust discussions and valuable insights from speakers and delegates, nine key recommendations have been developed including the need for sustainable resilient development pathways to net zero, robust monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation, mitigation and development going hand-in-hand. 

Conference - partnerships

Some of the panels at the conference brought together people and organisations who may not have worked together previously and helped facilitate deepening collaborations. 

Conference - stakeholders

The Met Office and others were able to continue to build strong relationships with key stakeholders across science and policy disciplines, helping to enable ongoing dialogue.

Conference - youth

Whilst it was not practical to involve a youth audience directly in the conference, we were keen to ensure that the importance of youth in climate change debate was recognised and that the voices of young people were heard in some way. An interactive session posing real questions from young people asked the event delegates to consider how to answer them.

Conference - social media

Using the #ClimateScienceConference hashtag, speakers and delegates were able to take part in the conversation on Twitter around the event.
Join the conversation and follow #ClimateScienceConference and #MetOfficeCOP26.

Conference - creative comms

As well as the keynote speaker and panel discussions, the Climate Science Conference also considered climate communication with sessions on developing climate content and a poetry workshop as well as a resident artist/scribe. Our resident poet for the event, Mr Gee, also produced a poem based on the discussions at the conference, providing a creative and thought-provoking summary of what had taken place. Our artist/scribe shared visual overviews of the sessions for another way of representing the discussions. We also invited delegates and the public, via social media, to take part in a @OneMinuteBrief design competition, sharing their posters to illustrate how the climate was already changing. 

View the agenda here.

Follow the conversation on Twitter #ClimateScienceConference