UBC is sending a ten-person delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30–December 12.
COP is an annual conference that brings together countries to focus on global climate policies and action. COP28 will also include discussions around the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement — since earlier this year the UN said the world is not on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C, which is needed to avoid climate change impacts like increased droughts and wildfires.
UBC was granted observer badges, which means delegates can attend COP28 events, exhibits and discussions but are not involved with negotiations aside from appearing as witnesses for transparency.
Sending a delegation is part of UBC’s Climate Emergency Task Force recommendations to “foster a culture of engagement & advocacy on climate change,” specifically through encouraging civic engagement.
Taryn Alessandra Cigagna, manager of climate and sustainability engagement at Campus Community and Planning, is the only staff member on UBC’s delegation. In a statement to The Ubyssey, she said her goals for the conference include networking and learning more about climate action innovation.
“I’m hoping to deepen my understanding of climate change-related issues which can support me to serve as a more informed advocate for sustainable practices within the UBC community and to integrate these insights into robust and effective climate action programming,” Cigagna wrote.
The decision to let the UAE host the conference has been controversial since the country is one of the world’s largest oil producers and exporters. Since the host country steers most of the topics being discussed, it is likely COP28 will address transitions to cleaner energy sources. However, Cigagna has doubts.
“My thoughts are quite mixed honestly … The choice of Dubai may further encourage direct involvement and commitments from key players in the oil industry, but we will see,” wrote Cigagna.
She also noted the value of sending a delegation to COP.
“It is the only conference of this type where we have the opportunity to engage with the international community in addressing pressing climate challenges,” she wrote.
“To be able to witness and participate in this level of global climate policy discussion is crucial,” wrote Cigagna.
Anjali Desai, a second-year UBCO master's student in interdisciplinary studies, echoed similar sentiments to Cigagna. Desai is one of the five students on the delegation. Her research focuses on the role that higher-level institutions, like universities or local governments, have in climate action.
“[COP28] gives me the opportunity to directly translate what I hear into my research work,” she said.
Along with her research area, Desai is particularly interested in local governments’ reporting requirements for mitigation goals and the greater role that transparency will play in addressing climate change.
“We need more accountability for all partners and stakeholders," Desai said. "I would like to see what changes are being brought about this year."
“I do very well believe that every small institution, at all level[s], has a collective responsibility towards the climate goals. It's only if everyone acts towards it, we can actually achieve [the] change which we are looking for,” she said.