Paris Liu, a fourth-year engineering student and co-chair of Zero Waste McMaster, is in Egypt this week for the United Nations’ annual global climate summit.
Paris Liu, a fourth-year civil engineering major at McMaster, is co-chair of Zero waste McMaster, a club dedicated to promoting an accessible, zero-waste lifestyle for students on and off campus. She is a member of LIFT Church and uses her faith to inform the work he is doing to address climate change.
And this week, he’s in Egypt for COP27, this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Liu, who is part of the Christian Weather Observers ProgramHe will join delegates from around the world to review the progress made since last year’s summit in Glasgow, take the talks beyond negotiations and begin to implement solutions that reverse the effects of climate change.
We sat down with Liu to learn more about COP27, why responding to climate change is so important, and how people can take action to make their daily lives more sustainable.
What would you say is the importance of climate summits like COP27?
All countries are affected by climate change, whether you are a major contributor or one of the countries experiencing its effects.
So we need all countries to come together to be part of a dialogue on how we can adapt to, mitigate and make nations more resilient to its effects. These types of dialogues can be carried out more effectively at climate summits such as COPs.
Also, these conferences provide a great opportunity for more media coverage on climate change, which has fortunately been increasing over the years, but not always high enough. The more the general public can hear about climate summits and climate change in general, the more awareness there will be about the problem, and hopefully that awareness will spur more people to act.
What is your role as an observer at COP27?
There are the obvious things, like attending meetings, briefings, workshops or exhibits during the summit.
In addition to these events, I have the opportunity to develop position papers and make formal presentations, conduct bilateral meetings with government delegates, showcase and advocate for climate action through press conferences and side events, make joint statements in plenary, and prepare dialogues and briefings
But personally, I would say the biggest role I have as an observer actually comes after the conference, because by then I’ll be more equipped to mobilize the communities I’m a part of to action.
What do you hope to learn from COP27?
I look forward to gaining first-hand information on global climate change efforts and learning about the political side of climate change, as that’s not something I learn every day.
I would also like to learn from world leaders and other activists and use the things I have learned to mobilize the communities I am a part of to action.
Finally, I am excited to learn about the Christian Weather Observer Program. Since I became a Christian three years ago, I have unfortunately kept my faith and passion for environmental stewardship in silos. The reality is that there are many opportunities for faith and climate action to work together for a better future.
Can you tell me a bit about how Zero Waste McMaster promotes and encourages sustainability initiatives on campus?
I have had the privilege of being a part of Zero Waste McMaster since it was founded as a club four years ago. Since then, our club has grown into a community of students who are incredibly passionate about sustainability. We run a variety of educational and tangible action-based initiatives because we believe that while raising awareness is important, it’s also important to walk the walk and take action.
Over the years we have hosted a variety of workshops, including ones on living waste free, reducing food waste, and greenwashing.
But going beyond the educational piece, we’ve also done some more tangible things on campus, like partnering with local sustainable stores to offer discounts to McMaster students in an effort to make sustainability more accessible and hosting four community cleanups. . We have also indirectly planted over 1,000 trees through a school-wide partnership with Ecosia, a free search engine that plants trees for every 45 searches.
In addition, we have put a lot of effort into promoting composting at McMaster.
Over 60 percent of organics end up in landfills. Once these organic compounds are in landfills, they generate methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide when measured over a 100-year period.
So we created a map of all the compost bins on campus, and last semester we partnered with Union Market and The Grind to divert over 600 pounds of coffee grounds from landfills into compost.
What motivates you to take action on climate change, and what advice would you give to someone looking to make their daily lives more sustainable?
Many people think that sustainable living is more complicated than it really is. However, the reality is that the solutions are simple and most are already available: contact your local parliamentarian about climate issues, use public transport, remodel your home or simply vote with your dollars. It really is just a matter of walking the path and really running.
For example, composting is a free program offered by the City of Hamilton – you can contact the city and get a green bin for free. Composting takes a bit more work, but if you can pinpoint the specific reasons why it’s important to you, it makes it all worth it.
As a Canadian living in a developed nation with one of the highest per capita emissions in the world, one of the reasons I take action is because other nations are suffering the damage my country has contributed to.
As someone who wants to have children and has had the opportunity to experience the beauty of life and creation around me, I take action so that my children and future generations can have a future.
Finally, as a Christian, I am called to be a steward of God’s creation and love my neighbor as myself, which includes helping those around the world most affected by climate change. Ultimately, for me, the Christian message of reconciliation, love and hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus is what motivates me to care for the earth and what gives me hope that it is not too late to take action against climate change.
Those are some of my reasons, and maybe they can inspire some of yours. Just figure out why you care, and the rest will come naturally.