Learning with the IARU

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Today I headed off from Sleep-In Heaven to meet ANU at the Cabinn Metro. We are living in a very convenient location, just one metro stop away from the Bella Centre where COP15 is being held. We jumped back onto the Metro to Forum (which was where I had come from!) and went to the life science campus of the University of Copenhagen.

Once we got there we participated in a student workshop with students from University of Copenhagen, University of Tokyo, National University of Singapore and University of Vienna. I felt a little inadequate as a lot of the other students were Masters and PhD students. It also made me feel grateful that ANU gives undergraduates the opportunity to study climate change science and policy. It seems like we are forerunners in this respect. Even the Americans I met earlier this week who study at Ithaca said it was rare that climate change courses were offered at American universities.

My group collaborating over initial proposals.

We came up with a couple of ideas for low carbon projects within our small group of five from NUS, University of Tokyo and ANU. The University of Tokyo students were really prepared and came with their ideas all typed up. One of the projects proposed was charging a voluntary carbon tax to individuals and the other one was converting all police cars to electric cars. We made up another collaborative proposal:

Low Carbon Universities: Promoting low carbon universities around the world.

  • Targets students: good because students are an engaged, curious group in society and will be around in 2050 to deal with the blowouts of climate change. Targeting this group will encourage a culture of sustainability to be passed down to the next generation
  • Global level: collaborative website for all universities to upload campus specific projects and discoveries; campus "green" rank (similar to the Times Higher Education Supplement Rank in the Good Universities Guide) because we believe students take into account sustainability levels on campus when choosing universities to attend/go on exchange to; student workshops like today because we had so much fun and learnt a lot!
  • Campus wide level: campus sustainability index which standardises criteria of carbon emissions for on campus events which are run (Yale possibly already has one); targeting "food, fibre, shelter" projects on campus – composting of food from cafeterias, colleges/halls, having second hand clothes markets in Union Court once a weeks, having swap and shops between students, developing Green Building Regulations for strong insulation rules for buildings, engaging in developing workplace sustainability methods
  • Exporting feasible, effective on campus ideas to the wider community – eg. Schools, neighbourhoods. For example, introducing urban composting in neighbourhoods; local and state government regulation of green building initiatives, etc.
  • We want sustainable living to become second nature and not something crazy hippies with dreadlocks do. Targeting universities students is one effective way to do this.

Surprisingly, our proposal won "most feasible" category of proposals. I was lucky enough to be chosen from our group to present the project to the afternoon workshop which had leading climate scientists, professors and lecturers (as well as the Japanese Ambassador to Denmark!) in the audience which was both nerve-racking and thrilling!

We had a great lunch where we mixed more with the Tokyo and Copenhagen students and professors and headed over to the afternoon workshop where we heard an array of experts speak on sustainable living and low carbon cities. Many of us enjoyed the irony of all the plastic drink bottles filled with water and soft drink that were on offer at lunch.

I was particularly interested in the case studies of Canberra, Tokyo and Copenhagen in the talk "Towards Low Carbon Cities" and "Food Flows and Ecosystems" which was also on this in relation to the international linkages of food and how difficult it is to eat locally. We heard about e-waste and the lack of regulation surrounding it internationally and how it could possibly be integrated into CDMs for developing countries.

Afterwards we had an amazing dinner of tapas and wine! We headed out to see the bike powered Christmas tree but got sidetracked by a bar.

I'm really excited about getting to know the group of ANU students better. They seem really lovely. Meg showed us all the pictures of her wedding in our room which made me want to get married. Who to? I do not know.


"Why so early if Obama's not coming?" (Meg as she drifts off to sleep and we are talking about waking up early to register)

"Look, your digital diary must be as boring as shit if you're quoting me." (Meg one minute later)

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