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Graduate Student Attends Climate Change Conference

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
January 13, 2010

Dovev Levine
Dovev Levine, who attended the Copenhagen climate change conference in December. Perry Smith, Photo Services

More than 30,000 delegates attended the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference held in December in Copenhagen. UNH Ph.D. student Dovev Levine was fortunate enough to be one of them.

As a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the natural resources and environmental studies program, Levine was pleased to receive a fellowship to present his work at an energy and climate research workshop in Germany. Even more exciting was the timing of the November seminar, which provided time at the end for those who wanted to travel to Copenhagen for the climate change conference.

Through accreditation granted by Boston University’s Pardee Center, he was able to have official delegation status allowing him to attend official UN meetings as an observer.

“It was an incredible opportunity,” says Levine, whose research focuses on campus-based climate activities, based on the idea that universities are among the leaders in commitment and accomplishment of energy and greenhouse gas reductions.

As a delegate, Levine, an academic counselor in the graduate school, was able to see the 12-day summit unfold. There were three waves of government representatives. The first, those that Levine witnessed in action,‘set the table,’ working out the definitions of the language—for example, what is meant by ‘deforestation.’

“You don’t understand how difficult it is to have this kind of discussion until you are there in person,” Levine said. “They spent hours haggling over how to define things like ‘forest’. It underscored the fundamental divide between nations on even the most seemingly basic issues.”

The COP15 conference reinforced his belief that change must begin with a few key parties involved.

“It’s not just the issues encompassing negotiations, it’s that there are too many players at the table,” Levine said. “It’s unwieldy.” More than 190 countries attended the Copenhagen conference. “The current negotiation system is very likely damaged. We need to think seriously about focusing on a new type of agreement with a much smaller number of nations and begin there.”

The Berlin workshop, “Forging Closer Ties: Transatlantic Relations, Climate and Energy” took place at the Environmental Policy Research Centre of the Free University of Berlin.

It brought together 13 Ph.D. students studying in the United States with faculty from various U.S. and European universities to examine developments in transatlantic climate and energy relations and gave the students the opportunity to discuss their research with representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations.

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