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The Minister for Environment and Climate discussed COP26 with the student associations

News: Nov 24, 2021

On Monday, Minister for Environment and Climate Per Bolund met with students from Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg to talk about the climate and results of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow. The meeting took place at GMV– the Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development–where 15 students from six sustainability associations were represented.

When the student associations at Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg discussed climate issues with the minister responsible for this area, many different fields of study and nationalities were represented. Per Bolund, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, asked to meet students committed to climate issues. He immediately felt at home in the international and interdisciplinary group and recalled his own days as a student at Stockholm University.

“When I studied biology, it seemed as if only biologists cared about environmental issues.”

He began by talking about the negotiations at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, which he had recently attended. The climate ministers met during the second week of the meeting, and Bolund mainly participated in negotiations about financial issues related to climate. It was difficult to achieve results in the polarised discussions in Glasgow, and Bolund wanted to emphasise the important role of the British chairpersonship in leading the negotiations forward.

“The Paris Agreement was saved through the Glasgow meeting, which now serves as an important milestone in international climate collaboration.”

While the negotiations at COP26 did not achieve as much as Per Bolund had hoped, they led to several important steps, such as specific mention of fossil fuels and their subsidies in the agreement.

Discussions with the students

Minister Bolund’s introduction was followed by a discussion moderated by Karin Bylund, project manager at GMV, who works with the Student Sustainability Hub and Sustainability Week.

The first question came from a student who participated as an observer at this year’s Conference of Parties (COP) and had noted that there were very few young delegates in the countries’ official delegations: What is Sweden doing to increase young people’s representation in international climate negotiations?

Per Bolund provided examples from the pre-COP meeting in Milan earlier this autumn, which included discussions on representation by young people in the climate negotiations. Two of the six Swedish delegates attending were young, and Sweden then encouraged other countries to include more young people in the processes. At next year’s major environmental conference, Stockholm +50, which commemorates the UN Environment Conference in 1972, he hopes that more young people will be involved in preparing for the June meeting and be represented.

Questions about the transport sector

This was followed by a series of questions that the students had prepared at a workshop just before the meeting with the minister. Several questions concerned the transport sector, such as the environmental impact of electric cars and biofuels from a life cycle perspective.

Per Bolund believes that electric cars are not the whole solution, and that we also need to streamline transport and use cleaner fuels for other cars. Railways and costs for infrastructure investments in comparison with travel volume were also discussed. Other issues concerned energy sources such as nuclear power, hydropower, and wind power, with Bolund noting that offshore wind power is an important up and coming solution.

Questions were then asked about the links between sustainability and climate in the health sector. Minister Bolund highlighted emissions that affect health, such as nitrous oxide, and the health effects of the increased number of heat waves and pandemics to which climate change is expected to contribute. He said that increased investments in healthcare will be required if we are unsuccessful in limiting climate changes.

Parting words to the students

Finally, moderator Karin Bylund highlighted the fact that many students in the sustainability associations feel frustrated that their questions go unheard, and they want more students to address sustainability issues and believe higher education institutions should do significantly more. What parting words of advice could Per Bolund, in his capacity as Minister for Environment and Climate, provide for the students?

His advice was to continue taking part in organisations and political processes, either in or outside party politics. Other ways to exert influence include involvement in the local community, responding to documents circulated for comment and participating in open hearings on various societal issues.

As Minister for Environment and Climate, Bolund concluded by expressing thanks for the meeting and for the students’ willingness to discuss climate issues with him, and he praised them on their involvement in a sustainability association.

“Understanding and commitment to sustainable development are good for your future choice of profession and for your career. Your knowledge and skills are in demand in the job market,” he concluded.

BY: Mikael Östblom

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 6/17/2021

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Utskriftsdatum: 2022-05-26