CSU’s Jacob Genuise, a master’s degree student in ecosystem science and sustainability, has taken the lead in planning for events at COP26. He studied meteorology and atmospheric science as an undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma before starting his graduate degree at CSU.
“Young people really see climate change as a challenge, but also a way to reshape the world and make it more equitable,” he said.
Genuise said that there’s growing optimism about climate change among young people.
“We can do something beneficial in the long-term for equity, inclusion and social justice within climate change,” he said. “We are scared about climate change but also really optimistic about what this conference could mean for the future and reshaping institutions.”
Kaydee Barker, a senior at CSU, is also studying ecosystem science and sustainability. She is one of the founders of the Livable Future podcast, which aims to educate the public about sustainability and environmental science. Barker and CSU alumnus Cody Sanford will produce COP26-specific episodes for the podcast.
Before starting her degree at CSU, Barker spent five years traveling in the U.S., Central America and in the South Pacific. Barker said that the experience had a profound impact on her.
“I saw climate change in a way I’d never seen it before,” she said. “It was life changing, and it made me want to make a difference, to go to bat for my friends now that are around the world in different ecosystems.”
Maryam Tidjani, who plans to graduate in December from CSU, grew up in Cameroon, a country in Central Africa. She knows first-hand how climate change can impact people if we don’t take action.
“I have a different way of seeing this and am also looking at it with a critical eye,” she said. “Coming from Africa, I am not as trusting of the UN. I’ve seen the UN work well, and I’ve seen it work not so well. Sometimes organizations can make empty promises or take too long to follow through.”
Tidjani hopes to work in the realm of energy transitions and urban sustainability after college. Her skills and education will be helpful as cities decide to move sources of energy from fossil fuels to cleaner energy, water, wind or solar power.
“We need more ‘hands on deck,’” she said. “People should get involved and incorporate principles of sustainability in their lives, to make it everyone’s solution to find a better way.”
Professor Julia Klein, who taught the international negotiations class with Bowser, will also attend the UN climate talks. She leads the Mountain Sentinels Collaborative Network, which seeks to catalyze innovative solutions for global mountain sustainability. The Network is involved in several events at COP26.