Cosmos Briefing: Is COP26 a game changer?

Scientists say that 2021 is our last chance to stop the effects of climate change from fundamentally disrupting the weather patterns we’ve relied on for millennia.

After a year’s delay due to COVID, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference — also known as COP26 — is about to begin in Glasgow, providing a crucial opportunity for more than 100 world leaders to come together and chart our future on this planet. But what do the climate scientists themselves think of this pivotal moment?

Five Australian climate scientists are here to give you an insider’s guide into what’s at stake at the COP26 climate conference, what to look out for, and what their hopes and fears are.


Dr Linden Ashcroft is a lecturer, climate scientist and science communicator at the University of Melbourne. Her research uses the past to help us prepare for the future, exploring the climate of Australia using historical documents and weather observations.

Prof. Mark Howden is Director of the Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions at The Australian National University. He is also an Honorary Professor at Melbourne University, a Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is the Chair of the ACT Climate Change Council.

Prof. Matthew England is a Professor of Ocean and Climate Dynamics and the co-founder of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. His research seeks to understand large-scale ocean circulation and its influence on regional and global climate, from the tropics to Antarctica.

Dr Andrew King is Climate Extremes Research Fellow at the School of Earth Sciences and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on the variability of climate extremes and the attribution of extreme events to human-induced climate change.

Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick is a climate and heatwave scientist at the Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at UNSW Canberra. She has investigated trends in heatwaves both globally and over Australia, as well as exploring the role of human activity and natural climate variability behind such changes.


Lauren Fuge is a science journalist at Cosmos. She holds a BSc in Physics from the University of Adelaide and a BA in English and creative writing from Flinders University.

To hear more, listen to the podcasts below, and check back during the week as more interviews are added.

Full interview with Dr Linden Ashcroft:

Full interview with Professor Matthew England:

Full interview with Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick:

Full interview with Professor Mark Howden:

Full interview with Dr Andrew King:

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