Expanding Japan-UK Research Collaborations in Climate Change, online, 10 December 2020 and 18 January 2021

Despite the travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of around 100 researchers and administrators came together for the third RENKEI climate change workshop -albeit not in the beautiful ancient capital of Kyoto as planned, but rather online.

The workshop, which took place on two dates a month apart, focused on expanding the research collaborations instigated at the first two workshops and developing new collaborations, as well as looking at the next steps in terms of transitioning towards influencing policy and practice. 

Speakers from government in both countries underlined the importance of RENKEI, given the broad range of expertise it encompasses and the overlap between UK and Japanese climate-related policy and goals. They posed some constructive challenges about the role which RENKEI could play in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow, including:

  • How does RENKEI’s climate change work align with UK and Japanese government policies and priorities (e.g. Japan’s recently announced goal of net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050)?
  • Could RENKEI choose some targeted themes within climate change for collaborative research, with the solutions tested in the different physical and sociological conditions of the two countries?
  • Could RENKEI come up with a joint statement on climate change?

On the first day, two panel discussions focused on climate-related research and opportunities for collaboration in the areas of low carbon societies and green infrastructure and of future risks and adaptation in floods and water shortage, food production and security, and ecosystems. A final panel looked at climate-related policies and campus sustainability initiatives being taken by RENKEI member institutions and networks to which they belonged.

More in-depth exploration of these topics took place on the second day, with all participants joining one of the three parallel discussion groups. Various collaborative research and challenge areas emerged from the discussions, including shared mobility and related behavioural changes; walkable or "15 minute" cities; post-COVID recovery options and opportunities in urban systems; the impact of climate change on tropical forests in Latin America and Southeast Asia; economic analysis of climate-related disasters; and the potential for mapping institutions and their net zero and sustainability thinking in the UK and Japan. Many of these discussions between participants are continuing since the workshop.