C&EN @ COP21 – Paris Climate Change Conference – 2015, November 30 to December 11

Student Observers Reflect On Climate Change Meeting

Amidst the throng of negotiators, journalists, and demonstrators present at the COP21 climate change meeting in Paris are a handful of students representing the American Chemical Society.

1447889400726The students attend talks, speak with party members and non-government organizations, and describe what they learn on their website. Spearheaded by York College of Pennsylvania professors Gregory Foy and Keith Peterman, the six-year-old project aims to spread climate change literacy throughout the U.S.

So what did they take away from the experience?

Read on to find out.

Jill Leaness, second year masters student in environmental science at the University of Idaho.

Attending COP21 has been both a humbling an-No matter where they live in the world, people really do know that climate change is affecting our planet.- (8)d empowering experience. Being in the presence of conference participants such as climate advocate Al Gore, environmental activist Jane Goodall, and U.S. Environmental Protection Association Administrator Gina McCarthy has created a sense of awe and a feeling of how small a part we are playing on this global stage. At the same time, being able to enter the credentials-only section of the conference, speaking with members of the Peruvian Parliament in Spanish, and collaborating in a roundtable with fellow college students interviewing government officials, validates that I do have a role in sharing the valuable knowledge I am acquiring as a participant at COP21.

Gregory Margida, senior studying biology and French on the premed track at Grinnell College

-No matter where they live in the world, people really do know that climate change is affecting our planet.- (3)COP21 has helped me to understand that climate change is an issue that knows no boundaries. I have spent most of my time here talking and listening to climate specialists from countries in Africa (including Nigeria and Ethiopia) and small island countries (Grenada and Vanuatu), all of whom have told me about the detrimental impacts of climate change in their communities, despite how little they contribute to global emissions. COP21 has helped me realize that climate change is not just an environmental issue, but a human rights issue.

 

Prakriti Shrestha, native of Nepal and a senior studying biology at Grinnell College

Coming to COP21 has really highlighted how much climate -No matter where they live in the world, people really do know that climate change is affecting our planet.- (2)change is a human rights issue. At the same time high level government officials are negotiating behind closed doors, nongovernmental organizations have been organizing peaceful protests within the COP site. These protesters are advocating for climate justice to ensure that the final agreement accounts for the rights of indigenous people, small island nations, and other developing countries. Many protesters even highlight the value of indigenous knowledge in combatting climate change. It is very interesting to see the amalgamation of high level officials with grassroots movements in the same space. I hope that parties acknowledge these grassroots movements and incorporate their messages into the forthcoming agreement.

Gilbert Vial, undergraduate studying forensic chemistry at York College of Pennsylvania

-No matter where they live in the world, people really do know that climate change is affecting our planet.- (1)The most amazing thing about this meeting was the large amount of people that are all gathered here for the conference, everyone is focusing on reducing climate change. This was then reinforced by a talk I saw on December 9th about a worldwide poll that showed me that no matter where they live in the world, people really do know that climate change is affecting our planet and realize that action needs to be taken against it.

 

 

 

For a lighter view of the ACS student observers’ experience at the climate change meeting in Paris, check out their Buzzfeed piece.

 

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