Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

Student delegates report on UN Climate Change Conference

Student delegates report on UN Climate Change Conference

In December, two York graduate students attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa as non-voting delegates with observer status.

On Thursday, Ewa Modlinska, an MES student in environmental studies, and Alex Todd, an MA candidate in geography, will share their observations on the COP 17 Debrief panel, in 120E Stedman Lecture Hall from 3 to 5pm. 

Right: York delegates, from left, MES student Ewa Modlinska, Curtis Kuunuaq Konek and Jordan Konek from the Arviat Youth Project, and MA student Alex Todd

The COP 17 Debrief panel is hosted by York’s Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability, which, as a non-government organization, successfully applied for delegate status to the conference, and sponsored Modlinska and Todd. 

Modlinska will speak about the importance of listening at international climate change conferences. It is the topic of her fourth and final blog posted about the conference. 

COP 17 is short for the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Established in 1992, it meets annually to set intergovernmental frameworks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. COP 17 took place from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9.

Modlinska went back and forth between the official conference inside and meetings organized by NGOs and other interest groups outside. She heard “a plurality of voices bringing different perspectives to the issue of climate change.” Official delegates focused on equity and development rights, while the protesters stressed climate justice, she said. “The biggest problem,” she told YFile, “was that there was not enough interaction between inside and outside.” Inside, they were proposing market-based mechanisms to mitigate climate change, profit-based solutions opposed by those outside.

Todd spent most of his time with protesters, so will have a different perspective on the conference, says Modlinska.

On the panel with her and Todd will be three others. Youth delegate April Dutheil attended the conference to set up a booth about how climate change is affecting Arviat, her home on the shores of Hudson Bay. From the Faculty of Environmental Studies, Professor Ellie Perkins specializes in globalization and the environment, and postdoctoral fellow Rachel Hirsch, in climate change and food insecurity in the North.

If you cannot attend the panel discussion, join the conversation online.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.