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Essential climate change reading

Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, discover our top five recommended books on climate change alongside our influential academic publishing.

Photo of five climate change books from Cambridge University Press

There is a lot of attention on climate change ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), taking place on 31 October – 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Bringing together government leaders and experts from around the world, this important summit aims to accelerate action towards tackling climate change.  

Our role as a leader in global education and research is to inform and progress action and debate around the world’s most pressing challenges, including the environment and climate change. With our authors at the forefront of climate science, our publishing ranges from scientific research to general books from some of the world’s highest-profile climate activists. For example, we have published all three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics, named for their contributions to the understanding of the Earth’s climate and how humanity affects it. 

Our climate change collection includes a range of books that explain – to the non-expert – the science, social consequences and possible solutions. You can find these books in major bookshops or buy directly from us. During COP26 we've made some of these books open access and a selection of chapters are available to read online

Our top five picks for understanding climate change each highlight a different aspect of the climate crisis.

Berners-Lee's book is one of our bestsellers. In April, Berners-Lee took part in an ‘Ask the Experts’ interview during the Cambridge Festival 2021, answering questions from young people on the Earth and its future. When asked if climate change has always been around, he said:

“The climate has always been changing, historically mainly for natural reasons… but what’s new about the situation we’re in at the moment is that humans are causing climate change, and the pressure we’re putting on the planet is far, far greater than any natural cycles that we’ve seen in the past.”

Our booklist on this topic continues to grow, and we’ll soon be publishing more titles such as Dana Ellis Hunnes's Recipe for Survival: What You Can Do to Live a Healthier and More Environmentally Friendly Life and Pandora’s Toolbox: The Hopes and Hazards of Climate Intervention by Wake Smith, both available in February 2022. 

Climate research

Many people have questions about climate science. To help people find answers, we're joining other publishers to showcase significant research in plain language. The aim is to make it easy for people to find key climate research, and understand its implications and recommendations. The Climate Change Knowledge Cooperative will go live during COP26. 

In addition, for COP26 we’ve curated a selection of our publishing about climate action from top scientists, researchers, and experts from around the world, including nearly 300 free journal articles and book chapters across disciplines, to encourage climate action. To help accelerate the exchange of ideas, we’ve also created a new interdisciplinary and collaborative space on Cambridge Open Engage where climate and sustainability researchers can discover and share early, open content.

COP26 also reminds us that climate change has gained increasing importance in international politics. A collection of key articles on climate governance and politics from Review of International Studies show how climate change is reshaping conventional political and global governance dynamics. 

Sustainable publishing

Our academic publishing on climate change is being shared with delegates at COP26 via Cambridge Zero, an initiative to reduce carbon emissions across the University of Cambridge, of which we are part.  

As an organisation, we have committed to being carbon zero on all energy-related emissions by 2048, with a 72 per cent reduction by 2030, in line with the University of Cambridge’s Science Based Target for carbon reduction. We have recently been looking at how we measure our digital carbon footprint and find ways to reduce it.

As a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, we commit to upholding the principles of environmental responsibility and innovation across all our operations. Helping to make a difference within our industry is important to us. We are one of the founding signatories of a new sustainability pledge launched by the UK’s Publishers Association, Publishing Declares, that aims to “inspire action that results in sustained behaviour change.”  

In September, we were awarded the IPG Sustainability Award for the second year running. The judges were won over by what they called: “another 12 months of influential publishing in the sustainability field” and by our ambitious targets on reducing carbon emissions and plastic use. They said

Cambridge publishing does important work to highlight the climate emergency ... and ... people are following that lead with changes too.