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Dr. David Reay reports back from the COP in Copenhagen

Dr. David Reay reports back from the COP in Copenhagen

Dave Reay, Director of the MSc in Carbon Management is at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copehagen. Yesterday Dave along with most of our Carbon Management students and a cohort of graduates (the 'Carbon Masters') attended Scotland Day - an event organised by the Scottish Government. The Business School team presented to a very distinguished audience and as Dave recounts were hugely impactful.

Rollercoaster COP

The 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen was always destined to be an emotional rollercoaster ride. With huge expectations, each reported set-back or break-through that leaks from the high-security chambers of the Bella Centre swings the atmosphere from despair to optimism. On December the 14th, while many hundreds of shivering and disgruntled delegates stood in the static registration queue that snaked from the main conference centre (the Bella Centre), an outside meeting just a few minutes away was taking its attendees to a high that will be hard to match.

The 'Scotland Day', organised by the Scottish Government, British Council Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, brought together delegates from dozens of nations, all keen to hear how the Climate Change Scotland Act might serve as an exemplar for action in their home countries and states. The large University of Edinburgh delegation at the COP is mostly comprised of MSc Carbon Management students and graduates (the 'Carbon Masters') and it was they who led the morning debating session, in tandem with the British Council's climate change advocates. The Scottish Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson, then went on to lead a discussion on what the Scottish Climate Change Act means for the world, with the Carbon Masters giving an international view on its potential impacts.

After a session where Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of Scottish and Southern Energy and others discussed the pathway to a low carbon economy, the plenary sessions concluded with what, for me, was one of the most powerful presentations I have ever witnessed.

Talking on the topic of climate justice, Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, each gave inspirational talks on how great a threat climate change posed to human rights. As the last few presentations began to overrun the allotted session time, and the enticing sound of the drinks reception next door filtered into the conference room, another team of Carbon Masters got up to present to the restless delegates. Within 30 seconds you could have heard a pin drop. The group of University of Edinburgh students and graduates captivated the audience with their presentation on key moments in human history and the choices our societies have made. Finishing with an impassioned speech on climate change action that brought tears to the eyes of many of us, the Carbon Masters were given a standing ovation.

More emotional plummets will doubtless head our way from the negotiation rooms this week, but the Carbon Masters and others like them give real reason for hope. In short, they did the University of Edinburgh proud.

Dave Reay, Director of MSc Carbon Management, Business School and School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh


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