Sustainability Intern, COP 26 Delegate, BC Class of '22
Cynthia Ma ’22 was one of the many delegates from BC that attended the conference during the second week. One goal of the event was to receive commitments from all participating countries to reduce their carbon emission. “Countries representing 90 percent of the world’s economy have now committed to zeroing out carbon pollution,” said COP President Alok Sharma. Cynthia mentioned, “panelists wanted to hear from youth leaders and indigenous leaders,” but she questioned how much of that translated into the agreement. She has a positive outlook on the conference and believes more actions to offset Greenhouse Gas emissions from countries can occur.
Boston College received accreditation to send faculty and students to attend and observe COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. (BC News October 2021) At the end of the Summer, she saw an email from Environmental Studies about an opportunity to attend the conference. Environmental Studies contacted her in September, and the planning occurred in October. When she arrived at the conference, the high-level events with world leaders had been completed, but week two was more about the details of negotiations. She attended multiple panels hosted by different organizations and countries with a similar theme, tackling climate change. With her particular interest in environmental health, she specifically focused on the discussions at the nexus of energy, environment, and human health.
During her morning commute to the Scottish Exhibition Conference Centre, Cynthia noticed the protesters in favor of climate actions outside the conference building. She saw senior citizens in the healthcare field committed to climate change mitigation within the healthcare system, and she felt supported and appreciated by their activism. At the end of the event, she felt “there were some successes and more work that needed to be done.” (Photo by Cynthia Ma) This was the first time that fossil fuels were included in the agreement language. Although the phrase “phase down” instead of “phase out” was included in the final declaration, Cynthia still believes that “it was promising that the term fossil fuels were explicitly included in the final agreement.” She has hope for COP 27 because of climate change’s drastic effect on the continent. “Hopefully, people have more awareness of the community justice issue in climate change.”
In the Spring semester of the 2019-20 academic year, Cynthia was hired as an intern in the Office of Sustainability, working on sustainability projects and office support. She helped the office create three virtual programs; on hiking in the Boston area and education and awareness about the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals. She later became an intern at Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation with the support from Joseph E. Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action. She was an undergraduate research fellow with Professor Praveen Kumar at the Boston College School of Social Work and was included as a co-author for a published journal article, and in May, Cynthia graduated from Boston College Class of ‘22 from the Morrissey College of Arts and Science. (Photo by the Office of Sustainability) On behalf of the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Services, we appreciate your dedication while in the Office of Sustainability, and we wish you well as you continue your graduate studies at Harvard T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health.