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CSU students present at United Nations climate change talks

Colorado State University students are leading the world in climate change research.

CSU students traveled to Madrid recently to present various research topics at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.  

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COP25, the name given to the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties, allowed approximately a dozen CSU students the chance to take part in various sessions and portions of the conference, including the opportunity to present their own research. 

In preparation for the conference, CSU students, along with students from Clark University and Michigan Technological University, teamed up to research the 17 topics listed under the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

As a climate scientist, there are days where this field feels like a fight and can be lonely.”

Claire Carver, CSU Graduate Student

Tamera Breidenbach, a senior majoring in ecosystem science and sustainability, was one of the few undergraduate students to attend the conference. Her team focused on U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 13, climate action. 

At the conference, Breidenbach and her team presented research on mountain and high elevation adaptation strategies to respond to climate impacts. This project included different case studies, one of which was her own research on wetland ecology.

While Breidenbach’s team began working on this in August, Breidenbach said her own research on wetlands has lasted for over a year.

“We used part of my own research in the proposal and presentation that we did,” Breidenbach said.

Some proposals were accepted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Breidenbach said.

“It’s really exciting that undergraduates, or even graduates, would have this opportunity,” Breidenbach said. 

Breidenbach said she credits her professor in the Warner College of Natural Resources, Gillian Bowser, for the opportunity she and others had to attend.

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“She is the sole reason that our students at CSU and the other institutions had this opportunity,” Breidenbach said.

Claire Carver, a graduate student working on her master’s degree in greenhouse gas management and accounting, was another student who attended the conference. Carver said COP25 was the capstone event of her master’s degree.

“As a climate scientist, there are days where this field feels like a fight and can be lonely,” Carver said. “At COP, suddenly you are amongst 25,000 other brilliant people working solutions to the climate emergency. Everyone at COP, while not speaking the same language, is speaking to the same goal.”

Reflecting back on the two weeks spent at COP25, Carver said she knows the world didn’t get the outcome it needs to prevent warming of 1.5 degrees.

“While entirely disappointing, despair is never the option, and there is always more optimism,” Carver said. 

Carver’s group worked on Sustainable Development Goal Five, gender equality.

In a media release sent to The Collegian, Carver wrote that “U.N. Sustainable Development Goal Five, gender equality, states that empowering women and girls is a basic human right. Meeting this baseline propels economic growth, development and climate benefits.”

For this goal, Carver’s group investigated the experience, perspective and role of gender in academia and gender equality initiatives. 

“Gender equality at universities is pivotal in informing, researching and achieving sustainable development goals,” Carver wrote. “We investigated the experience, perspective and the role of gender in academia and equality initiatives.”

Breidenbach said the experience was one of the most impactful moments in her time as an undergraduate.

“Seeing the communication and utilization of science in policy is important, as well as for young scientists to see how our work is being implemented in changes for a political scale,” Breidenbach said.

She also said she would like to see more people have this opportunity in the future.

“I think that as a research institution and as recognized as CSU is, internationally and nationally, it would be in the best interests to fund more students in the sciences to be able to participate,” Breidenbach said. “The school actually funding people to participate would be really influential and offer important opportunities to students.”

Funding for this opportunity came from grants procured by Bowser through the National Science Foundation.

“(Bowser) gathered different grants from the National Science Foundation and others to support the students to go,” Breidenbach said.

Breidenbach said more students participated in the initial projects than were able to attend. Out of the 15-20 people in her class, Breidenbach said only a little over 10 attended.

Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @chartrickwrites.

 
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