Murdoch student takes minivan to climate talks

December 20, 2016

Hannah Sutton (second left) with Uppsala students on their way to COP 22

Hannah Sutton (second left) with Uppsala students on their way to COP 22

Two Murdoch University students gained a unique insight into the politics driving climate change mitigation by attending the recent COP 22 talks in Morocco.

Sustainable development student Hannah Sutton cast convenience aside to travel to and from the conference in a minivan from Uppsala University in Sweden where she is currently on exchange.

She was one of nine students selected to represent Uppsala University at COP22.

“Travelling by minivan is vastly more sustainable than flying, emitting significantly less CO2,” said Hannah, who is in the final semester of her degree before she commences her honours thesis next year in Indonesia.

“Despite driving in shifts for 16 hours a day over five days and three nights, the journey to Marrakesh was energising and inspiring. It sent a strong message and sparked conversations and discussions along the way and at COP 22 around the impact of flying and the importance of individual change.

“During the trip we met climate change activists in the various countries we passed through, and held talks raising awareness about the impending dangers of climate change.”

When she arrived at the conference, Hannah attended meetings and presentations giving her the opportunity to see firsthand how leaders negotiate agreements and make deals.

Sam Edge (left) with Professor Howard Bamsey and fellow Global Voices delegates at COP 22

Sam Edge (left) with Professor Howard Bamsey and fellow Global Voices delegates at COP 22

“The Morocco negotiations were in many ways overshadowed by the Paris conference last year, where 193 countries committed to staying within 1.5˚C to 2˚C temperature increases,” she said.

“This conference tied up the loose ends and fine details of the Paris agreement, and the United States announced its roadmap to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by the middle of this century. How Trump’s victory will impact this agreement is still unknown.”

The other Murdoch student at the conference was Sam Edge, whose attendance was made possible by the Mal and Karyl Nairn Global Voices Scholarship.

Sam, who has just completed his Masters in Public Policy and Management at the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, was part of the Global Voices delegation of high performing Australian students.

They met with youth working groups, NGO working groups and gained direct experience of negotiations between countries at COP 22.

“Among the many highlights of the trip was meeting with passionate individuals who work tirelessly to correct the dire situation we are rapidly moving towards,” said Sam. “Their drive was only matched by the representatives of nations who can see the tide rising or their people begging for the rain.

“What surprised me was the willingness of people, in quite senior positions, to make the time to meet us. In this respect, we were unique among the Youth NGO’s, with an internationally recognised status as a party from Global Voices.”

Sam also had the opportunity to take a day trip to visit Berber villages in the nearby Atlas Mountains.

“It was interesting going from the convention, where people are talking about what can be done to help small developing communities, to actually being in those communities.

“The villagers gave us anecdotal evidence of the effects of climate change, saying the ‘mountains did not have as much snow as they used to’, so they had installed better irrigation systems and water channels to ensure the melting ice was not wasted.”

Now that he has completed his Masters, Sam is keen to build on his COP 22 experiences by undertaking some research on a topic of relevance to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He’s also keen to attend future COPs, or contribute to their success.

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