Sheffield student will attend inner 'Blue Zone' at COP26 climate summit

A University of Sheffield student will attend the COP26 climate summit at Glasgow in November and hopes to have some influence on policymakers.
Charles Gillott will attend COP26 in Glasgow in its second week.Charles Gillott will attend COP26 in Glasgow in its second week.
Charles Gillott will attend COP26 in Glasgow in its second week.

Charles Gillott, a PhD student at University of Sheffield studying sustainable housing has been invited to attend the Blue Zone at COP26 from November 8-12.

Whereas the Green Zone is open to the public, the Blue Zone in a UN-managed space where attendees must be accredited and will have the opportunity to participate in discussions and observe some of the negotiations.

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Charles said: “On a personal level I am interested to see how much COP is a parade of people talking about doing things and how far it will actually involve doing things.

“I am part of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures - an interdisciplinary team of academics and research strands working together for sustainable development. A number of delegates have been invited to attend COP.

“The blue area has more of a discussive atmosphere. People who speak are picked based on their experience and things that they can add - we are able to pitch in and we are viewing a lot of the main debates but I can’t go up to Boris Johnson and tell him that he’s wrong. We have a soft influence. MPs do have access to our research and it is well regarded."

Charles’ research focuses on how existing buildings can be modified and extended which is more environmentally friendly than demolishing a strcuture to make space for a new build.

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He added: “There is a session on the built environment at COP, the UK Green Building Council is launching net zero whole life carbon road map. The net zero road map is specifically what I have been working on. My research looks at factors affecting restoring buildings – like the John Lewis building – rather than knocking them down.”

“I will be there the weekend before and after to soak up the events and protests taking place. Protests are an important part of COP - nobody is listening to what I have to say - you wouldn’t be having this conversation with me unless there were these protests.

"As long as they are safe and legal I support them. It shows that people do care and politicians should be taking this seriously.”