Uppsala students at COP 21 in Paris
Participants from around 190 countries are gathering at the UN climate change negotiations COP 21 in Paris between November 30 and December 11. The goal is to negotiate a new agreement on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases between 2020 and 2030. For the first time, an official student delegation from Uppsala University will also participate.
Doreen Stabinsky is Uppsala University’s first holder of the Zennström Visiting Professorship in Climate Change Leadership and one of the researchers representing the university at the conference:
Who from Uppsala University are going to Paris?
‘In addition to researchers from the Department of Government, the research program StandUp for Energy, Campus Gotland and me from Uppsala Centre for Sustainable Development, there is a student delegation of about twelve people going. The university’s received a total of ten official badges to the climate meeting. The first conference week, the students will get four of the badges, the second week two. The delegation consists of students at both candidate and master level, some of them studying sustainable development, others economic and social geography, languages, economics, social media, statistics, molecular biotechnology and more, so they’re representing several disciplinary domains.’
What are the roles of the students at the meeting?
‘The students with access to the negotiating space will build knowledge of what’s being discussed, talking to negotiators, politicians, representatives from industry, international environmental organizations and, last but not least, delegates from nations threatened by climate-related disasters such as cyclones, severe droughts and deadly heat waves. The students’ personal impressions, as well as the latest news from the negotiating process, will be passed on to the students outside the negotiations and shared with the broader civil society through social and digital media. There will be a good line of communication going both ways, so peoples’ comments on the outside will reach the delegates on the inside.’
‘In addition, there will be a considerable amount of debates, exhibitions and activities around the conference arena. So there will be many opportunities for the students to participate and engage without having access to the actual negotiating space.’
Why is it important for the students and for Uppsala University to go to Paris?
‘It’s important because the students get to understand this kind of political space. They become active participants and let the negotiators know ‘this is why we care about climate change, this is why we’re here watching you.’ The media will pay attention to and spread their youth perspectives, and Uppsala University will be seen as a higher education institution with students who want to make a difference.’
‘The students will also network and make valuable connections with young people from all over the world. The international knowledge and experience they bring home will benefit both Uppsala University and, not least, inspire and attract new students. As for the researchers, they provide background information and advice at the negotiations, which adds to the visibility of the university’s research.’
What do you think will come out of the negotiations?
‘Negotiating sessions have already been held before Paris where countries have presented climate plans, unfortunately with a higher climate impact than previously agreed on by the world’s nations. So even if the Paris summit will end with a concrete agreement, I don’t expect we’ll be very happy about it.’
‘What we’ll get is a frame of agreement where countries put forward voluntary pledges. But there’s no guarantee the countries will fulfill those pledges. And what we understand from pledges that have already been put forward is that these are rather insufficient for keeping temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. These pledges will probably take us to 3.5 degrees Celsius at the end of the century. This will not be sufficient and that’s why civil society and the scientific community need to make a very strong statement.’
Updates from the climate meeting
Follow the Uppsala Student Delegation’s video updates, interviews, articles and blog entries directly from Paris on Facebook and Uppsala Centre for Sustainable Development´s webb site
Ask the students questions in Paris on Twitter and Facebook, under the hashtag #uucop21.
Live report #2 from the climate change negotiations in Paris on December 10 at 7:00 PM,
Location: Universitetshuset, sal IV
Voices from the student delegation:
Marcel Pasquina, Spain, student in the Master Programme in Molecular Biotechnology, 22 years old:
What do you think that you as students can contribute to the climate conference?
‘The climate agreement is more or less set, so we won’t be able to shape it now. But what we can do is to talk to negotiators and give our impressions about what we’re thinking and what the civil society behind us is thinking. We will also report our impressions through different channels, both while in Paris and when we come back to Uppsala.’
Jonathan Nylander, Delegation Coordinator and student at the Center for Environment and Development Studies, CEMUS, 24 years old:
You talk about a youth perspective on climate change - what does it mean?
’We represent the youth; therefore, we are somehow also representatives of future generations. We can put ourselves in their situation. These climate problems are not mainly caused by us, but by previous generations. But now we have to take care of these problems. We may have to lower our standard of living to make up for what has happened in the past. So for our generation, it’s a lot about justice, not least with regard to developing countries and nations on the Earth's southern hemisphere.’
Maisa Young, Enköping, recently graduated from the Master Programme in Sustainable Development, 27 years old:
What prevents more people from getting involved in the issue of climate change?
‘I think one obstacle is an alienation from nature. I can only speak for us here in Sweden and the fact that we are no longer in close relationship with nature. It will be a problem because we no longer see the impact of the choices we make, such as when we export the waste from our consumption abroad.’
Juan-Carlos Mauritz, Uppsala, Bachelor's student in Chinese as well as Economic and Social Geography, 27 years old:
‘Sometimes it’s difficult to change the perceptions people have had their whole lives. But the only lasting position is to ensure sustainable living conditions beyond one's own lifetime. That’s why I think it’s so important to focus on the young. Already in kindergarten there should be methods to teach children more about sustainability and what it implies in terms of choices in life.’