A man holds a sign saying "Act Now or Swim Later"

Cambridge Zero highlights University efforts at Climate Week NYC

Cambridge Zero Director Professor Emily Shuckburgh took centre stage at the world's biggest climate event of its kind in New York to talk to global leaders of government, business and philanthropy about Cambridge’s efforts to tackle climate change.

At the opening ceremony, Professor Shuckburgh offered a glimpse of optimism and urged everyone assembled to press on with implementing the urgent efforts needed this decade to tackle climate change.

"We have all the building blocks...we just simply haven't put them together, yet," she said.

Professor Shuckburgh appeared at Climate Week's main stage for one of the key discussions on the New frontiers of Climate Action. Joining her were:

Helen Clarkson (Corpus Christi 1993) Chief Executive Officer of the Climate Group which organises Climate Week

Kate Brandt (Selwyn 2007) Chief Sustainability Officer of Google

Judith Weise Chief People & Sustainability Officer of Siemens AG 

The four women discussed the innovation and investment needed to achieve net zero. In particular, Professor Shuckburgh talked about what the University of Cambridge is doing.

She mentioned Cambridge research on materials, batteries, photovoltaics, the Cambridge ecosystem for innovation, including Cambridge research on AI, aviation, the Centre for Landscape Regeneration and the ground-breaking work of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

She also mentioned how Cambridge is making efforts to support a more just transition around the world with the support of the Mastercard Foundation Programme with African institutions and scholars.

"Green innovation is going to be absolutely essential to our future... [and] one of the things we've been talking a lot about in Cambridge is not just how we can ensure that we are benefiting the UK, but also how we can collaborate externally."

Photo of panel. Left to right: Kate Brandt (Google), Helen Clarkson (Climate Group), Emily Shuckburgh (Cambridge), Judith Weise (Siemens)

Climate Week NYC takes place in partnership with the United Nations General Assembly and is run in coordination with the United Nations and the City of New York. It is the largest annual climate event of its kind, bringing together some 400 events and activities across the City of New York – in person, hybrid and online.

This year it centred around the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit as well as hundreds of national government, business and climate group initiatives, making it a unique opportunity for Cambridge to communicate with the world.

On Wednesday evening, just hours after the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit concluded at the nearby headquarters of the United Nations, Professor Shuckburgh took part in Mission Possible: Creating a Better Planetary Future, an alumni event hosted by Cambridge in America at the Morgan Library in New York. 

Professor Shuckburgh was joined by Professor of Planetary Computing Anil Madhavapeddy (Pembroke) and Fiona Macklin (St John’s 2012), Senior Adviser to Groundswell, a joint initiative between Bezos Earth Fund, Global Optimism and the Systems Change Lab.

The panel focused on the technological and behavioural solutions available to build a sustainable future for the whole planet and was chaired by Professor Matthew Connelly, the new Director of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge. 

Panel photo of Anil Madhavapeddy, Fiona Macklin, Emily Shuckburgh, Matthew Connelly

“Our alumni network is one of Cambridge’s greatest pillars of support and with their help the University is able to amplify its work, linking one of the world’s top research universities to peer institutions, policymakers and business leaders,” Professor Shuckburgh said.   

Throughout the visit to New York, Professor Shuckburgh met with dozens of supporters, policymakers, business, industry and climate leaders in a packed schedule, with only brief moments to spare. 

During a brief interlude between engagements, she managed to show up and support new initiative Climate Basecamp, which sponsored an "endangered flavors" ice cream stand at Union Square with TV screenwriter Chuck Tatham, whose hits include: Modern Family, Arrested Development and How I Met Your Mother. 

While there she also shared a selfie and a chat with fellow climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.   

Professor Shuckburgh and Katharine Hayhoe pose for photo
Professor Emily Shuckburgh and Chuck Tatham, creator of hit TV series Modern Family