At the COP28 Student Sustainability Forum, students came together with the UCL COP28 team to discuss what action needs to be taken to go further and faster, in the race to net zero.

Students engaged in a series of round table discussions with academics, covering a range of themes that will be raised at COP28; including how we can galvanise people, organisations and governments to increase their ambition to drastically reduce the effects of climate change.

Mary McHarg, your Union Affairs officer is attending COP28 as UCL's first official student representative, ensuring the collective student voice is being represented on the world stage.

Head to our Instagram page to see how the forum went and explore our Climate Leaders page for real-time updates on the progress Mary is making.

Academic panel

The Forum kicked off with a panel focused on an overview of COP28, its objectives, and what to expect at the conference. The academic on the panel included:

  • Dr Yaroslav Melekh, Research Fellow in Economics of Energy Innovation and Systems Transition, Bartlett School of Energy, Environment and Resources. 
  • Dr Simon Chin-Yee, Lecturer in International Development, Department of Political Sciences. 
  • Prof Lisa Vanhala, Professor, Department of Political Sciences. 
Panel discussion with UCL academics going to COP28, led by Mary

As academics and young people, we need to make sure our voices are heard to ensure those with vested interests are forced to make some meaningful change - Student Sustainability Ambassador

Student roundtable discussions

The most interactive part of the Forum took place in the second hour, with themed roundtable discussions facilitated by staff and academics. The themes included:

  • Climate Justice/Loss & Damage 
  • Climate Finance 
  • Engaging Youth and the Role of Young People
  • The Future of Climate Action 
  • Gender Equality 

We are very excited to have someone from our student union going to COP28. As Sustainability Ambassadors, we really hope she is the one to represent our voice at the university because we are the next generation of climate change leaders - Student Sustainability Ambassador

Mary facilitating the roundtable discussion on engaging youth in climate action

One of our big challenges is moving away from apathy to taking climate action. We still have a long way to go but there are glimmers of hope - Student Sustainability Ambassador

Read here the Student Sustainability Ambassadors summary notes from all roundtables with participants. Mary is in Dubai for COP28 now and brought all the student ideas with her.

Are countries ready to go further than ever before?

Deep and urgent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from all the G20 countries are the only actions that will make the “course correction” the UAE hosts have called for. To hold true to the 1.5C limit, all nations – particularly the fossil fuel producers - will have to come to Dubai prepared to go much further than any have ever done before. We look forward to Mary feeding back on the discussions taking place at COP28 and for the subsequent climate action that will take place following their return.