Student takes off to Madrid for COP25

UNSW Co-op Program scholar Ben Munro attends the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention.

Ben Munro

Munro at a pre-briefing in Canberra in September with COP25 delegates.

Climate change is arguably one of the biggest threats against humanity, with experts stating its effects are already being felt around the world.

Australia is experiencing prolonged drought, water scarcity and extreme weather events such as mega bushfires, with many citizens wanting more done to curb greenhouse emissions and slow the effects of climate change.

A part of this movement is final year UNSW Co-op Program Business School student Ben Munro who is currently at the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid (COP25) part of a four-person delegation with Global Voices in their scholarship program.

The Business School student said the Global Voices program provided young people with an opportunity to see how policy and politics operate on the world stage.

At COP25 Munro will be involved in discussions on renewable energy, circular economies and oceans and seas.

COP25 is designed for countries to address the next crucial steps in managing climate change ahead of 2020, the year which the delegation has committed to submit new and updated national climate action plans.

According to Munro, it puts pressure on countries internationally to start thinking about climate policies whilst opening the forum for sharing policy ideas and programs to tackle climate change.

Ben Munro and fellow delegates

Munro at a pre-briefing in Canberra in September with COP25 delegates.

Munro said he was frustrated by the lack of action and policy, especially in Australia, addressing the reduction of carbon emissions and bushfires.

“We can see what’s happened in NSW at the moment. The effects are just not on habitats or on natural landscape but… on our economy and the way we … live,” he said.  

In preparation for Madrid, and to assist the research process for his policy paper he wrote in the program, ‘Increase the viability of the renewable energy sector in Australia through better grid management’,  Munro spent time at a pre-briefing in Canberra in September with COP25 delegates.

The policy paper proposed the introduction of government-mandated financial products that help renewable investors manage the risks associated with grid congestion.

 “I picked the energy sector because … it’s one of the areas where we can do the least, and get the biggest return.

“Australia is rich with renewable resources and they have now become the cheapest form of new electricity generation. Private investors are ready to jump on the industry, but Australia lacks the infrastructure and policy framework to achieve this,” he said.

Munro said while it was reasonable for people to vent their frustration about climate change in the form of strikes and public gatherings, after going to Canberra and hearing the negotiations, he realised that to enact real change you need to think more strategically and have more understanding of the big global agreements.

“Be a bit more specific and more directed with what you are trying to achieve, which I think is really helpful in … getting things to actually change.”