COP26 Climate Challenge Cup finalists announced

Twelve partnership teams from the UK and US will showcase innovative projects tackling climate change in a live final at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow.

The Sustainable Futures Carbon Bank, a Future Food Solutions initiative, is one of twelve finalists nominated for The Climate Challenge Cup.

The Climate Challenge Cup is a new international competition celebrating civic research partnerships that are helping communities adapt to extreme weather events, such as flooding and heatwaves, or helping reduce carbon emissions to achieve ‘net zero’ targets.

The Young Foundation is leading the delivery of the Challenge in the UK. CEO Helen Goulden says: “I’m excited to host the Climate Challenge Cup innovation showcase and awards at COP26. We can’t fight the climate crisis in silo. It’s important to enable innovation partnerships between universities, civic bodies and communities to avert a climate catastrophe.”

“The presence of locally-focused and locally-led projects as part of the official COP26 programme sends the strong signal that trusting, meaningful partnerships between communities, researchers, and local government can have direct, innovative impact,” said Kimberly Lucas, Interim Executive Director at MetroLab Network who are delivering the Challenge in the US.

Shortlisted projects include a way of injecting CO2 into concrete to reduce its carbon footprint by 60% on UK construction sites. Another is a process to trap up to 25% of airborne CO2 into soil, which is being trialled in Texas and Yorkshire. It allows private landowners to monetise soil carbon storage as a property right. In Hampshire, a partnership is helping farmers produce food on chalk soil in a carbon-neutral way.

Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, such as flooding, heatwaves and wildfires. One partnership in Los Angeles surveyed citizens on low income who depend on public transport to design new bus shelters that provide shade and hydration stations. In Glasgow, a city-wide citizen engagement project is helping people reconnect with the local river’s history and plan its preservation. And in Pittsburgh, a partnership between the city, charities, a local university and citizens spearheaded the restoration of 1,200 acres of greenways – a network of greenspaces developed in the 1980s – to prevent future landslides and flooding.

The Climate Challenge Cup final will include a panel discussion about the opportunities and challenges faced by civic organisations, communities and researchers in the UK and US tackling climate change. Speakers include Dr Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, the largest climate tech startup incubator in North America; and Daze Aghaji, a young UK climate activist. Helen Goulden will Chair the event.

Dr Atyia Martin, who was the first Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Boston, and is one of the Cup judges, said: “Often it is the most ignored and underestimated communities who are most affected by climate change. They are left out of designing resilience strategies, which reinforces oppression. The Climate Challenge Cup will showcase projects that include community members in the design, development, and implementation of local solutions to this global issue.”

Professor Alex Halliday, Founding Dean of Columbia University Climate School and Director of The Earth Institute, and one of the Cup judges said “The climate crisis demands innovative solutions developed as partnerships between researchers, businesses, decision makers and communities. The Climate Challenge Cup is a great way to focus attention on some of these breakthrough ideas.”

The twelve finalists are:

Category 1: Carbon reduction to achieve net zero

Category 2: Adaptation to climate change

  • Local Climate Adaptation Tool, Exeter, UK allows councils to view different climate forecasts up to 2090, explore the impact they will have on health inequalities, and suggest adaptation measures, based on scientific evidence.

Find out more about the finalists and register for your ticket to the Climate Challenge Cup innovation showcase and award ceremony at

The awards ceremony and showcase will take place on 10 November in the COP26 ‘Green Zone’, streamed live to a global audience. Tickets can be booked on