Impressions from COP22: An intriguing week of scholarship

Posted on November 21, 2016 in The Grantham Scholars' Blog by . Share this article

Angesh Anupam was one of three Grantham Scholars who joined the University of Sheffield’s delegation to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Here, he reflects on his experiences at COP22.

Find out more about our work at COP22

Angesh Anupam at COP22

Angesh Anupam at COP22

The Paris agreement – the world’s first global agreement to fight climate change agreed at last year’s UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) – officially came into force on 4 November this year. More than 100 nations including the US, China and India have already ratified the agreement and so their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) have taken a formal shape. Despite many bold steps agreed by the parties at COP21, there are no binding norms by which a NDC can be brought under the purview of an international law. But that does not diminish the entire agreement, especially the commitments shown by the major emitters of the world [1].

COP22 at Marrakech was held to take into account the action steps following the historical Paris Agreement. Being a world-leading university, the University of Sheffield’s official delegation to the COP22 included academics from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures and the Energy2050 institute. I was part of the delegation, and the overall experience can be summed up as very intriguing.

The first day started with exploring the Green Zone, which is the space for civil societies, categorised according to various themes such as sustainable development, agriculture, university research, environment and innovation. We interacted with many exhibits including Siemens, who demonstrated the actual functioning of the wind turbine and how this kind of setup has revolutionised renewable energy production in Nordic countries. However, the lack of a proper storage feature has limited the harnessing of wind energy, posing a very interesting research question.

From day two onwards, we were focussed on the events that the Grantham Centre and Energy2050 had organised. One of the events we hosted was ‘Manufacturing innovations for fuel efficient aerospace and automotive industries in Morocco’. Because of my engineering background, I could easily relate to the scope of advanced manufacturing towards climate change mitigation. The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield is one of the best examples of how the next generation manufacturing techniques can actually make a difference, as far as proactive steps towards the climate change is concerned. For example, if the mass of composite materials used in building an aircraft is reduced, it will substantially increase the fuel efficiency and in turn reduce the emissions. The aerospace industry plays a major role in the Moroccan economy and job market [2], so research centres like the AMRC could play a key role in the economic development of countries like Morocco.

The next interesting event was ‘Understanding and mitigating CO2 and embedded energy in the agri-food system’. My own research incorporates the computer modelling of a CO2 mitigation strategy, and so, this session broadened my views and understanding on the issue. The importance of phosphate in agriculture is well-known and the most interesting fact, which erupted in this session, was that Morocco has almost 75% of the world’s estimated phosphate reserve [3]. This brings into light the importance of a global supply chain and how the entire world needs to work in coordination to deal with the issues like food security.

With the advent of some recent global political developments, when the free movement of people, climate change agreements, etc, are being debated, it becomes very important to understand that in order to serve the basic requirements of the rapidly growing population of the globe, an optimised sharing of resources and technologies across the world is essential. For instance, the modern agricultural techniques of the developed world can help developing nations to adapt the sustainable practices of food production, whereas mineral-rich countries like Morocco can harness green energy and efficient mining techniques to met the global demand for fertilisers.

As a Grantham Scholar, I have already attended several interdisciplinary events, but COP22 has positively catalysed the approach of my thinking towards the climate change debate. The overarching themes of Grantham scholarship take into account sustainability leadership in addition to our main research areas, and I think this visit has really added to that very aspect of the scholarship. I have been a part of the #weareinternational campaign since its launch and this visit to the COP22 further helped me understand how a diverse global communities can help in tackling a global challenge like climate change.