to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative
Four Cornell researchers and undergraduate students presented at the January 26th TCCPI meeting about their participation at the COP 23 Climate Change Conference in Bonn last November. Allison Chatrchyan, Danielle Eiseman, and Cornell students Ming Khan and Emma Bankier, provided an update on their experiences representing Cornell during the first week of the conference, along with 9 other faculty and students; there were an 9 additional faculty and students who participated in week 2.
Allison Chatrchyan provided some background on the COP process, how Cornell has been involved, and some of the outcomes from COP 23. Cornell is an official observer to the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP), which is held for two weeks every year in the November-December time frame. The COP is primarily a diplomatic event with painstaking negotiation by country delegations of a negotiating text that has been drafted in the year leading up to the climate conference (http://unfccc.int/2860.php). Participating at the COP allows Cornell to share its climate change expertise and work, and make important global connections, but which don’t necessarily have a direct influence on the negotiations.
Alongside the negotiations, the UN organizes official Side Events and Exhibits, which serve as a large climate change convention showcasing climate change projects being carried out by countries, international organizations, NGOs, businesses, and universities. There were about 25,000 participants at COP 23, and literally hundreds of events every day of the conference. For the past three years, Cornell has organized an exhibit in the UN zone, focusing on climate change research projects, as well side events on climate smart agriculture, soil health, and global food security, with partners such as the French agency CIRAD, UN, and developing countries.
Cornell junior Emma Bankier talked about helping staff the Cornell exhibit, and volunteering at the “We are Still In” Tent at COP23, which featured climate actions being taken by US states, businesses and NGOs. It was a life-changing experience. Cornell senior, Ming Khan, who is from Bangladesh, talked about the amazing opportunity to attend side events featuring Small Island States, which likely will lose their countries to sea level rise, and getting to meet high-level officials such as the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Kiribati. These student experiences were also written up in an article in the Cornell Chronicle.
Chatrchyan ended by talking about her interest in expanding the COP delegation work to include building a new 3-credit course at Cornell with Dr. Natalie Mahowald with proposed funding from Engaged Cornell, which could involve taking experiences from our local community and TCCPI to the global level. TCCPI has provided an initial letter of support for this concept. COP 24 will take place in Katowice, Poland, from December 3-14, 2018 (http://unfccc.int/2860.php). Chatrchyan will work further to build this idea of building stronger local input to the Cornell COP delegation with TCCPI this year.
-- Allison Chatrchyan
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