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December 18, 2015

This year, Drexel University was given Observer NGO status to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France. Eight Drexel University representatives to attended the annual Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, France. COP21 was unique in that for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, the goal was to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

The eight Drexel University participants to attend COP21 represented multiple colleges and units, and included: Dr. Bob Brulle (CoAS), Dr. Franco Montalto (CoE), Dr. Carol Collier (Academy of Natural Sciences), Dr. Erin Graham (CoAS), Dr. Longjian Liu (Dornsife School of Public Health) and staff members, Hugh Johnson (A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment), Adam Zahn (International Programs), and a graduate student, Paul Sesink Clee (CoAS). Drexel representatives live tweeted their participation at the event under the hashtag #DrexelCOP21.

The main objective of the annual Conference of Parties (COP) is to review the Convention’s implementation. The United Nations website states that the first COP took place in Berlin in 1995. Significant meetings since then have included: COP3, where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted; COP11, where the Montreal Action Plan was produced; COP15 in Copenhagen, where an agreement regarding the Kyoto Protocol was unfortunately not realized; and COP17 in Durban, where the Green Climate Fund was created.

At COP21, Drexel representatives met with many researchers, international partners, policy-makers, NGOs, and other members of civil societies from around the world. They attended side events and exhibitions on the devastating effects of climate change to the world’s communities. The representatives also participated in daily Research and Independent Non-governmental Organizations (RINGOs) meetings, which represents organizations engaged in research and analysis to develop strategies to address global climate change. Drexel University’s Observer status will allow them to attend future COP meetings, with the goal of sending even larger delegations of faculty, staff, and students to these meetings as well as hold joint-sessions with partner institutions and policy-making groups.

The Office of International Programs will sponsor an event in early February in which the Drexel representatives to COP21 will present on outcomes from the talks. Date/time for the event will be posted to Office of International Programs’ website,