York researchers debrief on COP23 climate change conference

Climate change

Students, faculty, and research partners from across York University met on Jan. 4 to discuss York researchers’ involvement in global climate change negotiations.

Professor Idil Boran, philosophy
Professor Sapna Sharma, biology, presents to a full room at Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies

York’s delegation at the 23rd Conferences of the Parties to the UN climate negotiations (COP23) – held Nov. 6 to 17, 2017 in Bonn, Germany – included Professor Dawn Bazely (biology), Professor Idil Boran (philosophy), Professor Sapna Sharma (biology), Mark Terry (PhD student in humanities and producer of the Youth Climate Report), former faculty member Charles Hopkins (education, UNESCO Chair on Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability) and Katrin Kohl (global network coordinator with the UNESCO Chair).

Participants shared their impressions of the Bonn conference, their own research focus, and their thoughts about the international climate governance process. Professor Ellie Perkins (environmental studies) also outlined the history of York University’s “observer status” at the annual United Nations climate change meetings, which since 2009, has allowed students, faculty, and research partners from other universities to participate in the annual COPs.

Regular debrief meetings at York University have deepened the local-global connections on this crucial challenge.

From Bonn, Bazely, Boran and Sharma contributed an article about the negotiations and their significance to the online journal The Conversation.

“The UN-led process gives an observation post on global climate action. Its dynamics and transformations are very interesting – but the road ahead has new dilemmas and challenges,” said Boran, who during her sabbatical this year is finishing a book on political philosophy and the dynamics between civic engagement and climate negotiations.

Left to right: Biology students Laiba Khan, Carrie Ewins and Amanda Liczner at the debrief session

She highlighted issues, such as devleping ambitious emission reduction pathways, a global finance mechanism for climate adaptation and sustainability, and the important role of an international mechanism for loss and damage as being of special significance this year. Boran emphasized the increasing involvement of a multiplicity of actors and the importance of taking an interdisciplinary approach to the complex and interconnected web of global climate action.

Doctoral student and film maker Mark Terry (communications) describes his UN Climate Change Youth Climate Report project
Katrin Kohl, Education and UNESCO, shares the local Bonn perspective on COP23 with chemistry Professors Cora Young and Trevor VandenBoer

York University researchers are part of the Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (RINGOs) constituency at the COP meetings. Daily meetings and side events help RINGO attendees orient themselves at these huge events, and exchange information and research insights. There were nearly 30,000 delegates at COP23, which was presided over and hosted by Fiji, but held in Germany for logistical reasons.

Terry has attended all the COPs since 2010, and in collaboration with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and UN Environment Program, he has helped produce and present the roughly 300 effective and inspiring youth-directed films from all over the world which make up the Youth Climate Report. His doctoral dissertation focuses on the relationship between documentary filmmaking and social change.

COP24 will take place in Katowice, Poland (Dec. 3 to 14, 2018). Anyone interested in applying for accreditation as part of the York University delegation should contact Bazely at dbazely@yorku.ca, York University’s Focal Point for the UN climate meetings, by the end of March.