PhD student in Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering attends COP27

Nada Adham, a final year PhD student, writes about her experience attending week two of the COP27 Conference in Egypt

Photograph of Nada Adham standing next to the official logo for COP27 in Egypt
Nada Adham standing next to the official logo for COP27 in Egypt

I am Nada Adham, a final year PhD student in the Electronic and Electrical engineering department at the University of Sheffield. I was privileged to be a week two delegate for the University of Sheffield in the 27th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. 

The COP has been going since 1995. It is a conference providing an international stage for parties from all over the world to negotiate and come together to agree how to jointly address climate change and its impacts. The conference is divided into two zones: the green zone and the blue zone. The green zone involves ministries, civil society, academia, artists, and business (mainly from the hosting country) organising exhibitions, cultural performances, workshops, and talks. The blue zone consists of negotiation rooms and pavilions representing a lot of countries and global organisations, where each pavilion hosts their own talks and events. There was also an Innovation hub which addresses current challenges in the innovation process and provides a space to rethink ways of addressing development through panel talks and private businesses pavilions. In COP27, several thematic days were designated for focused discussions such as: water day, energy day, youth and future generation day, etc.

Photograph taken at COP27 with MP Graham Stuart
Nada Adham and colleague at COP27, with MP Graham Stuart

I applied to attend the COP27 in order to see the science-based solutions to tackle the climate change crisis and to track the global usage of renewable energy to achieve the net-zero goal by 2050. At COP27, I got a chance to meet and have a conversation with the UK minister for Climate, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy, MP Graham Stuart, and he showed a great interest in my research project at the University of Sheffield. My project aims to improve solar cell efficiency by developing and characterising new potential material. I met him after his contribution to the “CDR Launchpad” talk in the Danish pavilion. I also had a chance to meet the UN High Level Climate Change Champion of Egypt, Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin, after a talk titled “The national initiative for smart green projects” - he even invited me to connect on LinkedIn!

Nada Adham with Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin
Nada Adham with Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin

I enjoyed the whole week at COP27 as it was full of novel experiences, and speaking to people who are very passionate about work being done around climate change. I was lucky to attend the first “Water Day” in any COP. In one of the talks on that day, a representative from Africa mentioned that it was amazing to have the first water day happening in COP27 in Egypt, where she was told that it was written in one of the ancient temples that ancient Egyptians believed whoever polluted the Nile would be banned from going to heaven. She also mentioned that water in some African countries has been privatised. In other words, whoever has money has access to water in those countries, when water is supposed to be available for public use. In 2040, it is forecast that 700 million people will suffer from draught, and currently approximately 408 million people suffer from draught. Hence it is so crucial that the whole world should cooperate to tackle the water scarcity crisis.

The first Children and Youth Pavilion also took place at COP27. In light of this, I contributed to the “Youth messages to world leaders” panel discussion in the Thai Pavilion with the Thai Minister of Natural resources and Environment. I talked about the importance of the renewable energy field to achieve the net-zero global goal. 

On the “Energy Day”, in a very interesting talk, it was brought to everyone’s attention that solar cells are far less implemented in the countries with more sunny days throughout the year. This means that more investment should take place in order to achieve the COP26 initiative “One Sun, One World, One grid”.

Photograph of Nada Adham next to the COP27 sign
Nada Adham next to the #COP27 sign

The slogan for COP27 was “Together for implementation”. The major outcome of COP27 was the loss and damage fund which has great potential to alleviate some of the severe shocks due to climate change in vulnerable countries. This is an essential aspect to consider for climate justice and helps to address the geographic imbalance between the cause and effect of the climate crisis. In other words, it means that the developed countries are becoming aware of the detrimental impact of climate change on the developing countries.

Attending COP27 enriched the opportunities I have had so far in my studies to network with academics and representatives from the public and private sectors, and broadened my horizons. I learnt more about the climate crisis, and the climate justice efforts and initiatives carried out by governmental and non-governmental organisations to tackle global warming. Listening to the youth’s opinion helps to co-create the knowledge that will support world leaders and policy makers to tackle the challenge we face. Solving the climate crisis requires us to strive to be better not only as individuals but as communities, nations and most importantly citizens of planet earth. 

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