In an age of political instability and confusion, one basic question asked is ‘who is responsible for what’? One simple answer when it comes to the climate is that each and every one of us is responsible for our own behaviour – as well as the political influence that determines the steps taken towards international agreements – including economic control measures. The increased political influence of populism and climate change deniers are problems that have arisen in recent years.

Nevertheless, regardless of the disagreements, it is a comfort to know that the conference in Katowice was finally able to achieve a consensus on how the Paris Agreement can be implemented – despite the inconsistencies that led to its extension. The consensus has its flaws, but means that the UN efforts to limit climate change are able to continue. This is vital – a breakdown would have been devastating. Agreeing on visions is relatively easy, however things can quickly change when it comes to establishing set actions. There was a broad consensus with the 2016 Paris Agreement that it is essential to limit global temperature increases to 1.5-2° C. The 2016 Paris Negotiations commissioned an IPCC follow-up report that was published this autumn and emphasised that time is pressing – 12 years – to successfully limit the increase to 1.5 ° C. Should this fail, the consequences will be dire. A plan is now in place – although certain issues have been postponed. An important step has been taken and, most of all, a breakdown has been avoided. The foundations have now been established for continued work to limit and address the climate change we face. The challenges are complex and can only be tackled if international collaboration based on an understanding of the gravity of the threat of climate change can be accelerated.

But what role does the university play? More researchers and students have, quite rightly, indicated our central significance in this matter, and I warmly welcome these appeals. As always, they address our main tasks: research, education and collaboration on climate-related issues. The university especially needs to prepare to share reliable knowledge with decision makers. Stockholm University stands at the forefront thanks to our expansive climate and environment work, the Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Stockholm Baltic Sea Centre to name but three examples. In addition, our own environmental work is also required. Stockholm University is environmentally certified and works to continually improve our direct and indirect climate and environmental impact. A welcome aspect of this work are the actions of researchers and students.