The Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board selected the 12 individuals that will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark next month for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
For the past several weeks, controversy has surrounded EAB’s successful request to the A.S. Finance Board for $9,800 to send 12 students to the environmental conference next month, especially given the current financial turmoil across the UC system.
The December meeting had promised to deliver landmark climate change policy, but several world leaders have recently acknowledged the political realities and said a binding resolution would not be possible this year.
Although the conference will not deliver the seminal climate agreements it had once promised, EAB co-chair Violetta Muselli said that UCSB will still have an active role in the conference as one of only two schools receiving exclusive observer status.
“We will work with Professor [Robert] Wilkinson to set up meetings with the California delegation as well as other scientists and politicians,” Muselli said via e-mail. “The various outside sessions we attend will give us a chance to say what we think about the climate change issue and what solutions we hope to see.”
EAB Co-chair Nick Allen, who will be among the 12 attending the conference, said the new agenda does not change the importance of having student representatives at the conference, which he believes is a perfect opportunity to gather information to influence UCSB’s involvement in sustainability.
“UCSB has long been a leader in the student environmental movement, and [EAB] is proud to have the opportunity to enhance this position by representing the voice of students everywhere in Copenhagen this year,” Allen said in an e-mail. “[Our delegation] is eager to learn all that we can from the deliberations … and [help] advise campus administrators in order to successfully reach UCSB’s expressed goal of carbon neutrality.”
Of the 12 students traveling to Copenhagen, five are members of EAB. Two are associated with the A.S. Coastal Fund, one is a member of the A.S. Executive Council and the remaining four students hail from various other organizations across campus.
Upon their return, EAB plans to pass on the information from Copenhagen in classrooms and host an event of their own at UCSB.
“[The massive climate conference will have] representatives from government, the scientific community … and the student delegation together,” Allen said. “We plan to promote this event through the California Student Sustainability Coalition … to ensure our message reaches the widest possible audience.
Funding criticisms have plagued EAB, however. Many students have questioned the Finance Board’s decision to provide EAB with $9,800 of the $13,240 originally requested given the current financial crisis gripping the University. In addition to the nearly $10,000 allocated by the Finance Board, EAB has raised $8,000 separately, according to Allen.
Muselli said EAB knows the budget is a serious concern, but says the international climate crisis is just as important.
“We are aware of the budget crisis [affecting the university], but climate change needs to be addressed immediately … and this conference is a big step toward doing that,” Muselli said.
Pratish Patel, the A.S. Finance Board Chair, stood behind the board’s decision.
“I think that the conference is a great opportunity for our students to really take action and participate on a global level while representing UCSB,” Patel said.