Two York College students are among the four student delegates at the United Nations climate talks in Qatar.
Representatives from more than 190 nations gathered for the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 18th Conference of Parties that began Nov. 26 and ends Friday.
Nicole Deluca, a York College junior from East Stroudsburg, and John Siller, a York College senior from Flemington, N.J., are representing the American Chemical Society as delegates with U.N. accreditation, along with Marla Bianca from Moravian College and Parker McCrary from the University of Alabama.
The students interview scientists, policymakers and national leaders and discuss how the science of climate change could be incorporated into international policy, and then they report back to their peers in an effort to promote climate literacy and action.
York College chemistry faculty members Greg Foy and Keith Peterman are serving as faculty mentors for the project.
The student delegates answered questions during a teleconference with students from four science classes at York College on Tuesday.
U.S. perception: The United States is not held in high regard at these talks, Nicole DeLuca explained to her peers via teleconference.
DeLuca said having the entire conference in English is nice, but makes her feel like the United States isn't even doing much when it comes to learning other languages.
"People don't look up to the U.S. in regards to policies, but in science I think we are pretty highly regarded," DeLuca said.
Peterman added that the science of climate change is clear but the policy is lagging too far behind what the science is saying.
Foy said the U.S. has been viewed as obstructionists at the past three
conferences he has attended.
"It's one thing to say we don't believe in climate change and another to obstruct and not let other countries do what they want," said Foy. "There is hope, but not a ton of hope."
The tone from the U.S. delegation is not one of being ready to turn around obstructions, Foy said.
Efforts: Siller said one of his favorite lectures discussed specific steps nations are taking to address climate change.
In places like the United Arab Emirates, they are experimenting with pumping carbon dioxide into wells to extract oil, Siller said. The theory behind this is that it will help produce more yield and the carbon dioxide will stay underground and not be emitted into the atmosphere.
Denmark, Iceland and Sweden were praised for their efforts on a national level, and regional efforts by collectives in Germany were noted for their use of solar panels, biofuels and wood chips, said Siller.
Foy said China is considered a leader in developing renewable technologies, and there has been a lot of discussion at the conference about balancing rapidly growing populations and energy use, with the hope of shifting to a less carbon-intense world.
The delegates are staying at the Le Park Hotel, a three-story convention center located on 10 acres in Doha, Qatar, on the Persian Gulf.
To learn more about their experience, visit their blog at www.studentsonclimatechange.com.
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