STEP student Jacob Herbers at COP23 UN Climate Change Conference

Humphrey STEP 19' student Jacob Herbers is currently at Bonn, Germany attending the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference.

Here is his latest update:

"The first few days of my COP23 experience in Bonn have been a whirlwind of activity. On Saturday, fellow MS-STEP student Jordan Morgan and I flew out of MSP, had a 4-hour layover in London in which we got separated and ended up taking completely different modes of transportation to get to the correct terminal, and then spent the night at a hostel in Amsterdam. The next morning we took a train to Bonn while enjoying the Dutch countryside, and then checked into our Airbnb, which overlooks the Rhine River.

COP23 is held on a large complex of buildings in Bonn, including 2 campuses which we can travel between by foot, bike, hydrogen-powered car, or my personal favorite, the solar bus. The vast amount of events going on is a bit overwhelming, since there are so many interesting ones to pick from. Personally, I am trying to attend mostly events focusing on renewable energy and decarbonization policy.

I went to a very interesting panel discussion about the different types of renewable energy, their potential for working together to achieve 100% renewables, and their environmental drawbacks that need to be minimized. It was great to hear from experts in those fields from around the world, and we all seemed to agree that many types of renewable energy will be needed to form a diverse energy mix along with different types of energy storage to really decarbonize our planet's energy sector.

A later speaker I saw focused on green house gas (GHG) emissions accounting. He made a great point that we should have as many GHG accountants as we have financial accountant, and discussed the challenges faced when trying to customize international standards for GHG accounting with the unique situations and policies of each country. There is a need for more institutions of higher education to develop GHG accounting curriculum, and also for practitioners in the field to be good communicators.

Today, we also learned that Syria has agreed to join the Paris Agreement, leaving the United States as the only country in the world to be against it. Despite that, the whole conference seems to have an optimistic aura around it, in large part due to the positive attitude of the host country, Fiji. Last night all COP23 attendees were invited to a Fiji-themed opening-night reception, including music, dancing, and free refreshments. It has already been incredible to mingle with people from every country in the world who are passionate about our environment."


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