Southern students, faculty, and staff are once again headed to the COP [Conference of Parties] global climate change conference, serving as official observers of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Thurs., Nov. 30, 2023 – Tues., Dec. 12, 2023, in Dubai.
The annual meeting invites world leaders to negotiate global goals for tackling climate change, present their individual countries’ plans for contributing to those goals, and report on their progress. World leaders such as U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, England’s King Charles III, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are among the more than 97,000 attendees expected to gather.
Southern was granted NGO access to observe the conference for the first time in 2021. In 2022, two Southern graduate students were granted funding to attend.
Miriah Kelly, assistant professor of environmental science and the lead faculty in Southern’s COP contingent, notes this is the first year undergraduate students will attend.
“[COP28] has gotten more participants than ever before,” said Kelly. “One of the things I love about these events is being able to provide mentorship to our students at Southern.”
Kelly said she’s proud that all three undergraduate students attending this year are involved in their respective research.
“It’s really exciting to see early career people doing meaningful research that will ultimately impact how we move forward either as a university, at the community scale, or even internationally,” said Kelly.
Connecticut has been ahead of the curve in the fight to curb climate change. Currently, Kelly and her colleagues have held conversations with state partners who aim to make Connecticut a hub for offshore wind.
“We’re interacting with a lot of coastal landowners,” said Kelly. “When we think about how we bring what we do at COP back to our communities, it’s about having advanced knowledge that supports us in moving forward with the latest and greatest innovation and knowledge that we need to make good decisions.”
Learn more about our coalition of undergraduates heading to Dubai for the conference:
Eleni Haskos, ’24
Major: Biology with Environmental Minor
Research interests: My research interests are within the scope of ecological disturbance, all of which aim to increase biodiversity. This includes the biophysical risks associated with ocean-based carbon dioxide removal (CDR), as well as aiding in the transition from chemical pesticide use to a multi-faceted biological-based approach.
Career Goal: I love being out in the field, whether that be mapping, testing, or collecting data, in addition to providing interpretation for the surrounding community. I’ve gained experience in these areas being an invasive plant technician and island keeper for U.S. Fish and Wildlife. My career goal is to conduct field research as a lead biologist in a government position such as an environmental scientist for the CT Department of Environmental and Energy Protection.
What do you hope to get out of COP28?: I look forward to attending COP28, where I will be conducting surveys with climate experts regarding the risks associated with ocean-based CDR strategies. It is important to understand what happens from a policy and negotiation standpoint as it acts as the catalyst toward efforts made in the field and in communities. I hope to grasp how these experts see ocean-based CDR as a solution toward limiting global temperatures to 1.5˚ C.
This international conference is an excellent opportunity to meet other students, scientists, and experts who are all working toward a similar goal. I hope to get a better understanding of how ideas get shared from various countries to put solutions to fruition and to be inspired by experts from around the world on how to approach reaching a solution.
Raianna Grant, ’23
Major: Environmental Systems & Sustainability, with a Concentration in Sustainability Science and Environmental Policy.
Research interests: My research topic of interest is the impacts of climate change and its effect on vulnerable communities. My current research project focuses on the known socio-cultural risks associated with the different ocean-based carbon dioxide removal proposals and the proposal’s effect on vulnerable coastal communities.
Career Goal: My career goal is to pursue a job in environmental planning and help mitigate impacts within local communities.
What do you hope to get out of COP28?: I hope to learn new information and expand my current knowledge of ocean-based research. In addition, I am excited to collaborate with other researchers and individuals who also want to help adapt to reduce the impacts of climate change. The overall goal I want to see at COP 28 is the negotiations of the Loss and Damage Fund and what will be discussed about the systems of The Global Stocktake.
Rebecca Stanton, ’24
Major: Environmental Systems and Sustainability
Research interests: My research interests are related to ocean and coastal conflicts, especially within most vulnerable countries, due to climate change. I have always wanted to have my study area focus on the concept of helping others.
Career Goal: My career goal is to be working in a job that is policy-focused. Some of the most important steps forward to protect humans and the environment have been taken at the policy level. It’s something I know I want to be a part of.
What do you hope to get out of COP28?: I hope to get an experience that I can’t get anywhere else. The ability to be surrounded by like-minded individuals from all over the world who want to solve this issue of climate change is something I have always dreamed of.
Students, staff, and faculty are asked to sign the Climate Emergency Declaration to affirm their commitment to climate change.