Staff and students from the University of Aberdeen will be among thousands of delegates attending the COP28 climate summit starting this week, with several travelling to Dubai to participate in events taking place as part of the global climate summit.
Running from Thursday 30 November to Tuesday 12 December, the 28th annual United Nations climate meeting will see governments discuss how to limit and prepare for future climate change.
University delegates including students, as well as academic and professional services staff, will attend in-person and online.
Among those travelling to Dubai are Dr Mitchell Lennan from the University’s Law School, who specialises in research exploring human rights implications of climate change impacts on oceans.
He will be speaking at a number of events and drawing attention to children’s human rights in the context of the impact of climate change on the ocean.
He said: “Despite the ocean’s importance it has only been included formally in the international climate negotiations since COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, and since then I have been involved in research and advocacy that seeks to ensure that ocean-based climate action must respect, protect and uphold human rights, especially future generations since they are the most vulnerable to climate impacts.
"Each COP is a window of opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of the ocean in international climate negotiations, and to ensure ocean-based climate action upholds human rights. I’m looking forward to playing my part in these discussions at COP28.”
Rose Lyne, Net Zero and Emissions Manager within the University’s Estates & Facilities team, is also travelling to the event as part of her role in helping guide the University towards its target of achieving net zero before 2040.
“I’m attending COP28 because a key challenge facing the University in its net zero journey is the decarbonisation of its energy and upgrading our estate for a net zero future.
“At the moment I’m coordinating the development of the University’s net zero strategy, which will detail decarbonisation pathways and targets for key activities and emissions across our operations.
“There are several events taking place at COP28 that will provide me with opportunities to discover potential ideas to tackle our energy challenge, which is a key area of focus for the University.”
Students will also be represented at the conference, with Ainhoa Burgos Aguilera, attending on behalf of Aberdeen University Students’ Association (AUSA).
Ainhoa, who is AUSA Vice-President for Communities and studied biology, commented:
“Having volunteered for environmental organisations and been involved in climate activism during my time at university, I was very thankful to be granted the opportunity to attend COP28.
“I will use this chance to further understand the politics of climate change and how the future of climate policy is taking place at a global scale. I am also hoping to ask questions raised by students, as well as my own, and provide a young person’s perspective on the issues that impact us all.
“I will be attending several workshops to network with other universities and charities and connect with like-minded activists, and I will bring all that I have learned back to Aberdeen and to AUSA as we look to provide ideas to implement in our student community and beyond.”
Professor David Burslem, who is helping to co-ordinate the University’s involvement in COP28, commented:
“I am pleased that so many of our students and staff are engaged in COP28, with several of our students and staff attending in person and many more participating in the virtual events that form part of the conference calendar.
“This level of engagement is partly thanks to the legacy of COP26 in Glasgow, where many in our community were directly engaged. But it also testament to the strong focus we place on sustainability issues and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“Research and innovation from the University can contribute to important discussions and negotiations taking place at COP28, where we can highlight the best climate-related research outputs from the University on the global stage.
“Not only this but we want our staff and students to bring what they learn back to Aberdeen as we continue to work towards the ambitious sustainability commitments in Aberdeen 2040, our long-term vision for the University.
“I hope all those participating in the event enjoy the experience and we look forward to everyone sharing what they have learned within our community and beyond.