Photo of students in Egypt

Student Delegation Travels to U.N. Convention on Climate Change

Yifan Guan and Yingxiao Zhang, Ph.D. candidates at U-M Climate and Space, served as student delegates to COP27 in November.

Two students from U-M Climate and Space traveled to Egypt in November to represent the university at COP27, the United Nations Convention on Climate Change. Yifan Guan and Yingxiao Zhang, Ph.D. candidates who are both studying atmospheric sciences, joined more than a dozen students from across disciplines to make the trip.

Guan and Zhang served on the University of Michigan delegation with students from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Taubman College, the School for Environment and Sustainability, the Ross School of Business and U-M Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences. They attended many sessions with experts, had the opportunity to meet world leaders, and asked questions to the panels that were convened during the summit.

“Attending COP is definitely eye-opening for me,” said Zhang. “Being selected as a delegation member gives me the chance to interact with people from different backgrounds, observe the global climate policy negotiation process, and therefore understand how I, as a scientist, can incorporate my climate knowledge in the policy-making process and increase the societal impact of science.”

She said climate issues are very important to her, and she hopes to bring climate advocacy into her career moving forward.

“As a climate scientist, I understand the urgency of solving the climate crisis,” said Zhang. “Climate change leads to a series of consequences including sea level rise, extreme weather, biodiversity loss, etc. However, the vulnerable communities that contribute less than 1 percent of the global carbon emissions are always the ones that are impacted the most. As a climate scientist, I hope to promote science communications with the public and policymakers, mitigate climate change and implement climate justice.”

Guan said she was amazed at everything she was able to do and witness during the convention, and she shared her experiences actively on Twitter.

 “I am excited to represent the University of Michigan to serve as an observer at UNFCCC COP27,” said Guan. “Witnessing governments, NGOs, business entities and scientific researchers from developed, developing and underdeveloped countries working together to confront climate change, I developed stronger convictions that advancing climate actions can lead to a better tomorrow. ” 

During the convention, students learned how to support better policy making and create actionable change. They learned about a wide range of topics, including ocean governance, the implications of deforestation, greenhouse gas monitoring, carbon trading, and accelerating clean energy initiatives, among others.