Delegation from UCC preparing to attend UN Climate Change conference 

Delegates from over 195 countries will gather to discuss a reduction in greenhouse gases at the event later this month.
Delegation from UCC preparing to attend UN Climate Change conference 

President of University College Cork (UCC) Professor John O'Halloran, with Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan and UCC student and climate activist Alicia O’Sullivan pictured at UCC. Alicia met with political leaders during the visit by the Government to UCC on Monday. The second year law student from Skibbereen, represented Ireland at the first UN youth climate summit in New York in 2019 and is a delegate to the upcoming United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference (COP26) which commences on the 31st October. 

A delegation from UCC is getting ready to head to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, where over 195 countries will gather to discuss a reduction in greenhouse gases later this month.

The delegation of eight people, who will be the only representatives from an Irish university at the conference, has been organised by the university's flagship Environmental Research Institute (ERI).

"The group of students and academics will be attending a lot of the events and feeding in expertise from UCC, which is the greenest university in the world," said ERI manager Dr Paul Bolger.

"We do a lot of work on climate policy so we'll certainly be bringing that over and we also have people from the ecology side and one person from the discipline of philosophy is going over. We're meeting a number of times beforehand to bring all of the sets of knowledge together."

Over 400 researchers from different disciplines work on what Dr Bolger calls the "big challenges" of climate change in the institute.

Some of these challenges will be discussed at COP26, which is being held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

"COP26 will have 195 countries in Glasgow and what they'll be doing is making commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Ireland is going over but Ireland is a part of the EU, so our commitments are the same as the EU," Dr Bolger said.

"America will be negotiating, as will China, India, and all of these other countries. Everyone has to make an effort and everyone has to reduce their emissions.

"The big question is will we get enough reductions to stop dangerous global warming, which is an increase of 1.5 degrees celsius."

As well as delegation preparations, UCC is also using the conference as a learning opportunity for students.

"We're having what we call a 'mock COP' on October 26. We're going to have 60 students who will be taking the positions of the different countries and doing mock negotiations," said Dr Bolger.

"We'll put their mock commitments into a climate simulation to see if they're sufficient to prevent a 1.5 degrees celsius temperature rise and if not, it's back to the drawing board.

“The idea is that it will help the students learn how difficult the negotiations are. All of this is to raise awareness of the importance of COP26.”

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