Looking ahead to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference ‘It allows me to connect with other academics and start collaborations’

From October the 31st until November the 12th, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is scheduled in Glasgow, Scotland. Dr. Ryan Holmes, who specializes in environmental economics and energy policy for the maritime industry, hopes to visit the event and use the opportunity to connect with a wide range of people. 'My main hope is that the conference will go on successfully and that the covid-19 restrictions will not get in the way of interacting and collaborating with other attendees.'

Shipping industry significant greenhouse gas emitter

Holmes worked in the energy sector before transferring to academia, where he was a PhD student for prof. dr. McCauley. In February, he moved from Edinburgh to Rotterdam to join the Global Social Challenges research pillar. He is also involved in the Resilient Delta Initiative as Port Theme Coordinator. For this initiative, he works on a project that aims to reduce emissions in the Rotterdam Port. Coming to Rotterdam, a city with a global port, was a logical step for Holmes. He previously worked at the Stockholm Environment Institute, where he was tasked with the emissions modelling for the maritime industry. He is also involved with the Arctic Research Centre and Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS). For this research, he looks at the effects of maritime activity in the arctic region. Holmes stresses that the shipping industry's impact on global emissions should not be overlooked: 'If you compare the shipping industry to a nation, its emissions would be in the top six of global greenhouse gas emitters, exceeding Germany.'

Informal meetings are key for realistic policy

Due to Covid-19, COP26 had to be postponed to this year. To craft a new policy and stimulate new collaborations, it's important the conference can take place this year without too many restrictions. Holmes elaborates: 'This international conference is crucial for the maritime industry. With the increased globalization, so many industries and countries have become dependent on the shipping industry. There are so many maritime industry involved that in the past, nations have been very hesitant to put restrictions or guidelines in place because they were scared to undermine their interests.' Although the conference will consist of many official meetings and procedures, the informal, unofficial meetings are essential to shaping policy, in the experience of Holmes: 'Conferences, like COP26, bring different stakeholders, such as governmental representatives, people working in the shipping industry, researchers and people working for NGO's, together in an informal setting.  Interactions in informal settings are meaningful because they help craft a realistic policy.'

Seeking out collaborations

His personal goals for the conference are to attend meetings and events related to his research on shipping emissions and other issues relevant to the Resilient Delta Initiative and the Port of Rotterdam. Holmes also looks forward to the interactions with other attendees: 'I hope I can have some face-to-face contact with government representatives raising concerns about the shipping emissions. I have also worked on emissions modelling estimation and looked at different abatement technologies, such as liquid gas or hydrogen energy. This conference allows me to connect with other academics and start collaborations that can help the initiatives I am working on one step further. And who knows, I might run into other Erasmians graduates working at NGO's or other organizations!'

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