Moravian Contingent Heads to U.N. Climate Meetings in Poland
Husic, Binford to Maintain Blog Highlighting Newsworthy Developments
This week, a Moravian College delegation of two professors and a 2010 graduate are joining representatives from more than 190 countries in Warsaw, Poland, for the United Nation’s 19th annual conference (COP 19) on climate change. This is the fifth consecutive year that the College has attended the COP meetings. It is also noteworthy that Moravian is one of just five liberal art colleges accredited to attend from the United States.
Among those in attendance this year are Diane Husic, professor of biology and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, Hilde Binford, associate professor of music and chair of the Department of Music, and Sarabeth Brockley ’10. All three individuals attended Moravian’s first COP meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.
Last week, a few days before her departure, Husic illuminated the meeting’s educational value for the faculty, students and alumni who have been involved in recent years. “We serve in the role of civil society observers – garnering information about the many complex and diverse issues associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation, risk reduction, policy development, etc.,” she explained. “It is incredible to be involved on the world stage with 195 other countries, but that diversity makes negotiations complicated due to differing priorities and values.” As participants within the Research and Independent NGOs constituency group, we also advocate that the most current science be used in developing climate policy.
Husic called attending the conference the “best way to learn firsthand what is happening in these critical negotiations,” noting that U.S. mainstream media doesn’t extensively cover the event. By visiting Poland, “we can provide a lens for the campus and broader community that they won’t get otherwise and create unique educational and networking opportunities for our students,” she said.
However, the Moravian community doesn’t have to wait until their return for an update. As they do each year, the professors are maintaining a blog regarding the COP events. Those who are interested can visit http://moraviancollegeatunfccc.blogspot.com/. Husic, an admitted novice Twitter user, will also be tweeting about important issues, @HusicDiane.
We can provide a lens for the campus and broader community that they won’t get otherwise and create unique educational and networking opportunities for our students.”
– Diane Husic
Husic, Binford and Brockley, who is enrolled in the environmental policy graduate program at Lehigh University after serving in the Peace Corps in Peru, will attend the first week of the two-week conference, which began Nov. 11. Brockley will also be in attendance the second week. According to Husic, the “high level segment” is in week two, featuring top negotiators and heads of state. These sessions are becoming increasingly difficult to attend due to increased security and limitations on numbers of delegates allowed into the venue.
Husic has also again teamed up with student observers representing the American Chemical Society (ACS) led by two York College faculty, Keith Peterman and Greg Foy. Husic, Peterman and Foy serve as mentors for the ACS students who receive pre-COP training in Washington, D.C. The group will have a paper coming out on its initiatives and is expecting to present at the ACS conference next summer. Binford is participating in the Climate Action Network (CAN) strategy sessions.
In an email to the Moravian community shortly before the group’s departure, Husic noted that she was interested to see how the international community responds to the little-discussed Nov. 1 Presidential Executive Order “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change,” which formally recognizes that climate change is inevitable and “calls on federal agencies to change their policies and strategies in order to adapt to the effects of climate change.”
“It is difficult to say what the reaction will be,” explained Husic of the executive order at the conference. “Most likely it will be viewed as only a minor move from a country that has been rather uncooperative over the past 19 years of negotiations.” She noted that the U.S. was the only developed country that didn’t ratify the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that came out of an early COP meeting that sets binding obligations on industrialized countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The U.S. then chose not to sign onto the agreement when it was renegotiated at COP18 in Doha, Qatar, last year.
“When I read the executive order, I was struck by how the administration has accepted that change is inevitable and that we must now work on resilience and adaptation,” Husic concluded. “I also want to read/hear more about mitigation (reducing greenhouse gases) and investment into alternative renewable energy sources.”
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