Climate science meets the science of compassion

In this article

A new online event taking place on November 5 will bring compassion science into dialogue with climate science. 

The Centre for Technomoral Futures and Global Compassion Initiative at the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, announce an event intended to inspire and drive change in the context of COP 26.

‘Code red’ for humanity

Dr James Doty, Founder and Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education notes the importance of this event:

“Climate change is the existential crisis facing humanity. By bringing together a diverse range of voices from both climate science and compassion science, this event not only comments on the crisis but illuminates ways in which we can avert it. This is a much-needed conversation that allows for realistic and grounded hope about humanity’s future.”

The live-online event will take place on 5 November and bring compassion science into dialogue with climate science. It will address the ‘code red’ call in the recent United Nations Climate Report in order to drive change alongside the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Realising a Compassionate Planet: A day of conversation and action

The one-day conference brings world-renowned scientists, artists, leaders, and change-makers into live conversations that will draw out their expertise in realising change. Among the many conversations, Dr Jane Goodall, ethologist and environmentalist will be in dialogue with artist and campaigner Sarah Woods. Former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark will join in inquiry with the Chair of the Edinburgh Book Festival, Allan Little. Dr Shams Syed of the World Health Organization with join Professor Liz Grant to focus on compassion and planetary health. Johan Rockstrom will discuss the global climate crisis and  explore with Sam Branson and Jim Doty questions such as the role of compassion in maintaining a safe operation space for humanity to survive. The Duke of Sussex will introduce a key session on mental health, the climate crisis and compassion.

Professor Liz Grant, Assistant Principal, the University of Edinburgh, and Futures Institute Futures Conversation co-lead explains why this conference is necessary:

“While we have much of the science to tackle the climate crisis, and there is a rising global awareness of the urgency, the will to take action is still largely absent. Compassion offers a transformative strategy. It can shape the way we respond and whether we are successful.”

An exhibitors’ gallery will draw together art and resources on compassion science and climate science from across the globe. Participants will have access to this unique set of change-maker resources.

Joining forces, welcoming all
Everyone is welcome to take part in the 5 November event. Participants will include leaders from the political, business, civil society and student world, climate scientists and faith communities. A key message for the day is that everyone can be involved, and the involvement of everyone is what will make the greatest difference.

Compassion is one of the strongest motivations for change known to humankind. Few climate science approaches work with concern for one another’s well-being as a fundamental motivation.

Professor Shannon Vallor, Baillie Gifford Chair in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence and Director of the Centre for Technomoral Futures at the Edinburgh Futures Institute points to this new orientation:

“A sustainable planet requires a compassionate planet – and that means a fundamental shift in human motivation and action. To survive and flourish together in the face of rapid climate change, the human family must shift to new ways of living, building, and thinking that prioritise care for life, place, and community over short-term profit-taking and status-seeking. The latter provide only illusions of security and happiness – and even those illusions are crumbling now.”

Find out more
To learn more, visit

To inquire for interviews, please phone +1 6507216142 or +44 (0)7971962766

To cover the conference or reach the event team, please contact:

Media contact:
Wendy Harrah: Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University

Professor Liz Grant, Global Health Academy at the University of Edinburgh

Realising a Compassionate Planet event details

5 November live online from 10:00 to 18:00 UTC

With on-demand access to all recorded sessions following the live event

This event is presented in partnership with The University of Edinburgh Global Compassion Initiative and CCARE at Stanford University

Register now at

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