News, Administration

BC to Attend United Nations Climate Conference for Second Consecutive Year

A select group of Boston College students and faculty members will travel to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt this November for COP27. This is the second time the University will attend the annual United Nations summit on climate change.

“[Climate change] is probably the most serious threat to human civilization that we face,” said BC philosophy professor David Storey. “The COP process is the most concerted attempt to try and deal with it.” 

Almost 200 countries are set to attend COP27 this year, where they will negotiate agreements focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing funds to help other countries do the same.

The University opened applications to attend COP27 to BC’s entire student body, and the initial questions focused on candidates’ interest in, experience with, and education on climate change, according to Julia Horchos, an attendee of COP26 and MCAS ’23. There were about 300 applications this year, she said. 

“[We] offered a final round of application questions to about the top 30 applicants,” Horchos said. “It was more extensive … [and] we were able to select, I believe, eight students, from undergrad to grad students to law students.”

As the only undergraduate student at BC who previously attended the conference, Horchos said she wanted to continue her involvement while allowing other students to go to this year’s summit.

Horchos said BC’s Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society, the partner of the observation group, gave her an active role in helping this year’s observation group prepare for COP27.

“We started creating a class completely devoted to [preparing for the conference], and it’s really been incredible,” she said.

Horchos collaborated with professor David Deese of the political science department and Storey to design a syllabus for the class titled Forging Just, Effective Climate Policy in the UN COP Process. 

“[I’m doing this] so they have some good knowledge going in about how the process works, history of the process, and major turning points such as the Paris Agreement, as well as to prepare them socially to help build a team,” Storey said. “Because when I went last year, it was not a three ring circus—it was a 300 ring circus.”

One of the biggest topics at the conference this year will be the financial side of climate change, according to Storey. In 2009, he said the conference established a global climate fund that was supposed to involve developed countries contributing $100 billion to developing countries to help them adapt to and mitigate climate change.

“That goal has not been met, not even close,” Storey said. “Since then, it’s on track to be met, I believe, by 2024, perhaps by next year, but that’s definitely something that’s going to be discussed.”

These climate change conferences are important, Storey said, because the entire world needs to come together to change the current state of the environment.

“If we take the projections … from climate scientists seriously and if we also take into account the low probability scenarios of extremely destructive climate change … we’re really getting into territory where we’re talking about … disruptions to the basic functioning of our society, the likes of which we’ve never seen, and at a global scale,” Storey said.

By sending community members to COP27, Storey said he believes BC is fulfilling its Jesuit mission and Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.

“I think it’s fantastic that BC is supporting this initiative and putting resources behind it,” Storey said. “The fact that we’re starting to align our university better with the goals of that encyclical I think is a great move.”

October 30, 2022