COP27, the annual “conference of the parties” hosted by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, began this weekend in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, drawing tens of thousands of global activists, diplomats, and heads of state. They will be joined at the conference by dozens of students, faculty, and staff from the Yale School of the Environment and Yale University who will participate in key decision-making and negotiations centered on global climate action.
This year’s conference takes place against the backdrop of a growing energy crisis, rising inflation, and an ongoing conflict in Ukraine — all of which impact critical environmental issues. This is also the first UN climate summit since the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment report, which painted the starkest picture yet of our rapidly changing climate and the ever-increasing threats posed to people and ecosystems if urgent action is not taken.
It also will be the first conference held on the African continent since 2011. The setting is expected to put a heightened focus on the Global South, where millions of people from low-emitting countries and regions are deeply impacted by the effects of climate change caused by the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters.
“With every slightest increment of warming, the impacts will only get worse, with a disproportionate impact on those who are still developing — and lack the resources and means to protect themselves — through implementing effective climate action,” Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President-designate, said in a recent statement.
During the two-week conference, students from YSE and Yale will provide support in areas such as climate finance, environmental justice, natural climate solutions, and ecosystem preservation. They will represent a range of NGOs and environmental organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, the Alliance of Small Island States, the Environmental Defense Fund, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, and the Clean Air Task Force.
Before leaving for Sharm el Sheikh, several YSE students shared their plans for COP27 and what they hope to achieve through their participation.
Vincent Haller '24 MESc
“For COP27, I will partner with The Nature Conservancy Chile with the purpose of identifying and reporting key outcomes of discussions — including trends, challenges, opportunities, new technologies — around natural climate solutions. The goal is to facilitate TNC’s follow-up of climate negotiation implications for local action and build internal capacities to align project development to the current trends. I am excited to participate at the forefront of discussions around natural climate solutions, which I believe have the potential to contribute significantly to solving the climate and ecological crisis, if the incentives are placed correctly.
“My research at YSE is focused on developing accurate emission baselines for forests in my home country of Chile, with the aim of reducing uncertainty and facilitating conservation and restoration project development. My purpose for attending COP27 is to obtain a more holistic understanding of natural climate solutions by getting involved in discussions related to finance, Indigenous community engagement, and governance. Hopefully, this broader perspective will allow me to promote project implementation in Chile and, in the future, contribute to international discussions from a project development perspective.”
Destiny Treloar '23 MESc
“At COP27, I will partner with two NGOs: West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT for Environmental Justice) and the Women’s Organizing for Change in Agriculture (WOCAN). WE ACT will be hosting the first-ever Climate Justice Pavilion at the convention, elevating the historically disenfranchised voices of the Global South, the U.S environmental justice movement, and other articulations of climate justice activism in the international climate dialogue. WOCAN is an extensive network of women-led organizations dedicated to social and economic advancement for women through the application of the W+ standard [a global framework that measures and monetizes women's empowerment]. .
“My master’s thesis at YSE, advised by Dr. Dorceta Taylor, investigates the interlocking systems of power posed to Latina/x/e women when accessing food in the U.S. My experience at COP27 grants me the opportunity to share and further explore my research interests on a broader international scale. I am most excited to examine the proposed mitigation strategies in response to the cascading effects of the climate crisis on food production and security through the lenses of intersectionality, equity, and justice.”
Weixi Wu '23 MESc/MPH
“I will be working with the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia at COP27. CAREC is an independent, non-political and non-for-profit international organization with a regional mandate to assist Central Asian governments and regional and international stakeholders in addressing environmental and sustainability challenges across the Central Asian region and Afghanistan. I am excited to promote the Central Asian Climate Information Platform at COP27 — the first portal providing climate information of Central Asia — to various international stakeholders.
“I am interested in the impacts of environmental pollution on human health, particularly vulnerable populations, and hope to pursue a doctoral degree focusing on environmental health issues in Central Asia after I graduate from YSE. At COP27, I want to raise awareness of the environmental issues happening in Central Asia for an international audience and support my organization to attract green investments.”
Lauren Wiggins '23 MEM
“I am thrilled to attend COP27 with the organization that sponsored my attendance to the landmark COP21 in Paris, France: The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. The women-led organization is based in New Orleans and is dedicated to improving the lives of people harmed by pollution and most vulnerable to climate change in the Gulf Coast region. I am helping lead their efforts to co-curate the first-ever Climate Justice Pavilion at the conference, which will be a space where people from the Global South, Indigenous nations, and communities experiencing environmental injustice in the U.S. can build the collective capacity to share local knowledge and create solutions for pressing issues at the human rights and climate change nexus.
“My master’s studies focus on designing urban ecosystems for climate adaptation, forest regeneration, and social equity. While in Egypt, it is my hope to leverage opportunities to learn more about community-oriented sustainable development, nature-based solutions for climate mitigation, and share the time, space, and energy with a diverse spectrum of thought leaders. Though I have attended COP twice in the past, this will be my first time both in the Blue Zone (where negotiations take place) and playing a leadership role to uplift crucial youth perspectives like my own.”
Charly Frisk '23 MEM
“I am working with Time for BETTER, a climate change communication agency. The mission of the organization is to ‘bring together bright minds, bold learners, and diverse members of our climate community for a better world.’ My excitement for COP27 lives in the hope that I have for the future and the determination that women — especially Indigenous, Black, and women of color — bring to the climate leadership space for ambitious, regenerative solutions. Earlier this semester, I interned for BETTER, leading programming and operations of our Climate Week NYC event series. After the internship ended, I was offered an opportunity to join the COP27 team as a videographer to bring my creative skills to the agency.
“For COP27, I will be curating audio-visual content as an on-site media producer for BETTER. I am excited to use my filmmaking skills to curate compelling narratives for the agency and to involve those outside of COP — a chance to see through the lens of hope.”