American University of Sharjah (AUS) is preparing for an exciting few months ahead as it readies itself for COP28, having been named as a member of the COP28 University Taskforce by the UAE Special Climate Envoy to COP28. Being part of the taskforce will allow AUS representatives, including staff, faculty, students and alumni to participate in key debates on climate change. With world leaders and global scientific experts attending COP28 to discuss how climate change can best be addressed, it is an honor for AUS to be a part of a taskforce that is having such a direct and positive impact on some of the world’s greatest challenges.
COP28 will be held in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023. With a reputation as one of the region’s most sustainable universities, AUS is well-placed to contribute expertise at COP, an international climate conference held each year by the United Nations. AUS has been ranked by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) as one of the top five institutions worldwide for community engagement in sustainability, according to AASHE’s 2022 Sustainable Campus Index. In addition, AUS was the first university in the MENA region to achieve an AASHE STARS sustainability ranking. The university was the first in the UAE to begin to ban all single-use plastics on campus, and in 2021 announced its Climate Action Plan, which aligns the university’s sustainability efforts with the UAE’S Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.
COP28 provides a unique opportunity for AUS to showcase its sustainability achievements and disseminate the climate-related research breakthroughs of its faculty. Such achievements are wide and varied and include increased efficiency of hydrogen production (an alternative fuel source) through femtosecond laser technology; using AI to make solar energy capture more effective; and investigating how traditional building techniques can reduce air conditioning use in hot climates, among many others.
The community is invited to learn more about AUS’ climate change research and sustainability achievements in the run-up to COP28 through the university’s newly launched Climate Coffee podcast. Experts from science, business, government and the NGO-sector are invited to take part in the podcast, sharing their insights into how all sectors of society can better work together to address and mitigate climate change, from the smallest individual actions, through to intergovernmental agreements. Rose Armour, Head of Sustainability at AUS, and Dr. Jeannette Vinke, AUS Chief Operating Officer, both passionate about sustainability and the changing climate, use the first episode to educate listeners about the history of COP and what we might expect from this year’s event.
The university has also launched a COP28 Speaker Series, bringing climate action experts from around the world to the AUS campus to share their views and experience on specific issues related to climate change. The first speaker was Muwaffaq Al Khedery, a renowned Climate Change Advisor at GHD Group Abu Dhabi, who discussed his work on carbon emissions modeling and shared insights into challenges and opportunities in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The next speaker in the series will be Dr. Claire Williams Bridgwater, a research professor at American University, Washington, DC, who teaches atmospheric biology, science diplomacy and environmental sciences and whose most recent studies examined environmental peacebuilding in the world’s most fragile states.
“Climate change will impact the future of our students regardless of where they are located in the world or what industry they work in. Understanding climate change–not just from a scientific perspective but also its geopolitical ramifications, is therefore essential to any young person’s education. As future leaders it is important that our students are aware of the many complex issues surrounding climate action and have the skills and confidence needed to ensure the organizations or industries in which they will work are best equipped to deal with the challenges climate change presents, and ultimately act in a way that is beneficial for our planet. There is no better way to learn about climate action than by taking part in COP. This is a great opportunity for our students, and all our community, to make a difference on a global stage,” said Armour.
AUS has launched a dedicated web page for the community to stay up-to-date about all its COP28 initiatives and learn more about how the university has become a global sustainability leader. This page also houses the new Coffee Climate podcast: https://www.aus.edu/cop28.