St. Edward’s at COP21: Surprise, You’ve Adapted!

This blog is part of a series written by St. Edward’s student Chris Jackson, who was selected as one of eight students from around the country to represent the American Chemical Society (ACS) as a student ambassador at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP21) in Paris in December of 2015. Student delegates like Chris attended talks, took part in UN events, discussed special interests with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and interviewed world leaders. We will publish one of Chris’s blogs each week, so stay tuned for more!

By Chris Jackson, 12/2/2015

It’s a typical Wednesday night at the end of the semester and you find yourself locked in your room, wiling yourself to write that research paper that you were supposed to start months ago and is now due tomorrow.  That should give you an idea of what the treaty negotiations have looked like, except instead you’ve got 195 other people with you and you all have to agree on every. single. word.  No one said this treaty thing was going to be easy.

Now while that sounds like a great time, my ACS observer credentials don’t actually get me into the rooms where those talks happen.  Instead, this afternoon I made my way into a great session on bridging the gap between research and application for climate policy, led by Dr. Diane Husic of Moravian College.

Amongst the short panel speeches, Dr. Saleemul Huq’s stood out to me.  Representing Bangladesh, the most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change, he described adaptation as the process of learning from doing.  The impacts of climate change are understandably remarkably different around the world and must be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Therefore, we need not only our scientific researchers and policy makers, many of whom are here at COP21, but also doers, the people who are on the ground, making changes.  In cases of climate, it just so happens that these people are often the ones who need to adapt the most, the poorest in the poorest countries around the world.  Bangladesh has been there, done that, and can serve as our adaptation model.

At the end of COP21, when our leaders (hopefully) identify our global targets, it will trickle down to the cities and local communities to implement these changes and adapt to our new climates.  We must be ready for that.  Field trip to Bangladesh anyone?