Innovation vs. Fear – My Experience at COP – Sofya Levitina

My very first day at COP, the main problem of sustainability became glaringly obvious to me. After attending two environmental policy events and two environmental science events it was clear that the communication between the two fields is practically absent. Politicians starting every claim with an assurance that it is based on scientific evidence created a narrative that did not match up with what the research community was screaming around them. Frustrated scientists looked for ways to make their findings more accessible to the general public, digesting their figures and conclusions into simplicity bordering nonsense. The hopelessness of climate change that consistently brought my delegation to tears was perpetuated by the organizing parties of the COP conference and disproved time after time by innovation, technology, and concrete science based panels. COP27 fellows posing

The issue was especially highlighted during my second day with UConn@COP. The theme of the day was renewable energy, my main area of interest. I lifted myself out of bed as early as I have ever woken up to make it to every event that could answer my questions on what the state of energy in the world looks like. The first event I attended that day talked about a report on Chinese efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels and their increasing investment into clean energy. The panelists announced with bright faces that Chinese emissions into our atmosphere will peak in 2025 because China is undergoing a steady transition into solar, wind, and nuclear powered energy supply.

The second panel I attended was full of CEOs of nonprofit and for-profit organizations as well as smaller governments who discussed their successes and innovations in the fields of green hydrogen energy and other sustainable sources. The technology that is being developed in front of our very eyes made my hand shake while I was filling my notebook with ideas and impressions. The world around us is ever-changing and it is going in the right direction. The biggest world governments have stated that green energy is not only cost-efficient, but also profitable and creates industries and infrastructure. It has a real appeal now.

I was elated by the promise of an improving world before I attended my last panel of the day hosted by the UN. Ten politicians and activists from the largest climate change initiatives on the planet joined together in an agonized scream about the goals of the Paris agreement not being met, the responsibilities not being followed, the world not being saved. It was shocking to witness the despair in the room after I just heard how far our scientific progress has brought us. The panelists repeated that we have to do more, seemingly unwilling to recognize that change needs time. The technology in place cannot suddenly reverse the emissions a country is releasing, it takes a longer adjustment and trial period. The systems to reduce global emissions coming from unclean energy sources are in place, the curve of CO2 gas emissions is hitting its maximum and changing concavity. From this point on change is exponential, as policy and technological innovation work together to keep up momentum. If you are feeling hopeless about the obvious climate crisis, you are missing the key point of progress: it’s resistance to linearity. Based on scientific evidence, our future is bright.