Beginning this week on Nov. 6, the United Nations will be holding its 23rd annual Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, with attendance from University of Connecticut students. The conference, which lasts until Nov. 17, will be welcoming 14 UConn students this coming Saturday, Nov. 11, to partake in the second week of panels, presentations, and discussions. This opportunity provides an invaluable experience for our university, not just for the students, but for the entire community to learn more about the dangers of climate change and what we can do to prevent them while our government sits idly by.
Shortly after the 2016 election, President Trump backed the United States out of the Paris Agreement, angering thousands of people all over the country. However, despite the federal government’s decision to withdraw from the accords, many individuals and organizations quickly decided that they were obligated to uphold these guidelines no matter what Trump decided to do. These groups quickly joined forces and started the movement called “We Are Still In,” which aims to ensure that the guidelines set by the Paris Accords are upheld anyway.
UConn, which joined the group in 2016 when the president was first elected, is hoping to add to its representation at the upcoming UN Conference. In past years, students who have attended the conference have returned with a newfound wealth of knowledge regarding our planet’s environment and how other nations around the world are handling the same climate issues as the United States. Students have also been able to use this invaluable opportunity to share the information they learn with administrators at UConn, including President Herbst, in order to find ways to improve the university’s overall sustainability and encourage continued vigilance when it comes to working towards a “greener” tomorrow.
With the current political climate in America being quite cold in regard to the environment, it is important now more than ever that we send students to this conference. Not only are current students the ones who will be making important environmental decisions in the future, but we are the ones who will be most affected by the decisions made today. By sending these students to Germany to participate in this conference, we are ensuring that we help students become more informed citizens and allowing them to spread that knowledge to others who can potentially help make a change as well. Attending this symposium is not just important, it is imperative as it benefits each individual student, the university, and our generation as a whole, in the struggle against climate change. By sending students and faculty to COP 23, UConn is showing that not only does our climate continue to matter but so does the future of all of our students.