From 30 November until 13 December 2023 Expo City, Dubai, played host to the United Nations’s 28th annual COP meeting, the supreme convention in climate governance. The core climate and sustainability issues raised at the conference are increasingly relevant within the University of Sussex. The recent summit was not without controversy, largely due to the status of its host country being a prominent fossil fuel producing state and the appointment of President-Designate Dr Sultan al-Jaber, the CEO and Managing Director of the Abu-Dhabi National Oil Company. Criticism of the summit was heightened by allegations of ‘greenwashing’ aimed towards the Gulf state.
An estimated 2,456 fossil fuel lobbyists were in attendance in Dubai, a drastic increase from last year’s conference where, according to Amnesty International, there were 636 present. This number is something that the University of Sussex Students’ Union (SU) has recognised as a grave issue due to the vast number of these lobbyists who were recruited whilst at university. The SU, therefore, has taken action by launching a campaign, stating: “we are calling on Sussex University to ban all fossil fuel and mining recruitment on campus before the end of 2024”.
To facilitate this, the Union has launched an e-petition in accordance with the Fossil Free Careers campaign to promote and enact this ban, aiming it directly at the University Vice-Chancellor, Executive Team, and the Office for Careers and Entrepreneurship. A link to the petition can be found on the Sussex Campaigns Instagram page (@Sussex_Campaigns).
The Sussex SU has been committed to the Fossil Free Careers campaign since the December 2021 Council vote was overwhelmingly in favour, becoming just the second SU to do so. The Students’ Union has boycotted fossil fuel and mining recruitment in all events since and remains supportive of the cause.
The University of Sussex Business School has teamed up with JUSTNORTH to promote their research. JUSTNORTH is an EU-funded project that works with institutions such as Michigan Tech, UiT and the Sussex Energy Group right here at the University. The aim of the partnership is to create a more sustainable Arctic region through economic decision-making during an era of drastic temperature rises. At COP28, the Business School’s Prof Roman Sidortsov and Dr Abdul Abbas hosted a Pavilion with JUSTNORTH to present their research developments on the economics of innovation and industrial policy, the energy transition, the circular economy, the future of work, and the ethics and justice of Arctic economic development.
On the importance of the Business School’s attendance Dr Abbas commented; “As the world prepares for COP28, this year’s themes ‘technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance’ underscore the urgency and complexity of the issues at hand, emphasising the need for comprehensive and inclusive solutions to tackle climate change. The current climate crisis necessitates innovative, evidence-based approaches, making the academic community’s attendance crucial. It’s a pivotal moment to contribute research insights, advocate for evidence-driven policies, and collaborate across disciplines to drive transformative solutions towards a resilient, equitable, and climate-resilient world. The University of Sussex Business School’s Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) is in a strategic position to contribute to these solutions.”
For those back home in Brighton, between 6 December and 11 December, the Business School also hosted a series of free to attend, live-streamed events from COP which featured a number of experts, practitioners, students, and relevant policymakers. These events focused on topics including the acceleration of industrial decarbonisation, the promotion of social acceptance, and community participation in energy projects. COP28 concludes with the agreement between countries to make progress towards a reduction in the usage of fossil fuels within the energy sector with a target date of 2050.