First U.S.-China undergraduate conference on climate change to be held at WUSTL

Washington University Students for International Collaboration on the Environment (WUSICE) will host the first U.S.-China Undergraduate Conference on Climate Change and Sustainability Thursday through Tuesday, Nov. 4-9, on the Danforth Campus.

The conference, which will address issues of energy, food production, climate change, environmental justice and more, is free and open to the public.

Eleven undergraduate students representing Fudan University in Shanghai, China, will attend the conference at the invitation of Washington University.

Speakers include:

  • WUSTL Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton;
  • Richard L. Axelbaum, PhD, WUSTL professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering and director of the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization;
  • Robert E. Blankenship, PhD, the Lucille P. Markley Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences in biology and in chemistry at WUSTL and director of the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center;
  • Pratim Biswas, PhD, the Stifel and Quinette Jens Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering at WUSTL;
  • Robert E. Blankenship, PhD, the Lucille P. Markley Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences in biology and in chemistry at WUSTL and director of the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center;
  • Maxine Lipeles, JD, co-director of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Law Clinic and senior lecturer in the WUSTL School of Law;
  • Jennifer R. Smith, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences at WUSTL;
  • Yang Guoqiang, consul general of the People’s Republic of China to Chicago;
  • Stephanie Ohshita, PhD, associate professor of environmental science and management at the University of San Francisco and visiting faculty in the China Energy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and
  • Heather Wigmore, program director of the Million Tree Project for the Jane Goodall Institute — Shanghai Roots and Shoots.

In addition to the lectures, the Chinese students, with a group of 11 WUSTL students, will participate in Mock COP16, modeled after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held later this month in Mexico.

The students will debate the major issues currently being discussed in negotiations, specifically mitigation actions, financing, accountability, technology transfer and capacity building, and market mechanisms.

The Mock COP16 will begin at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 204.

The final product will be the Washington-Fudan White Paper, a document summarizing the outcomes of the negotiation. Junior Jiakun “Summer” Zhao, president of WUSICE, will share the paper at the 2010 UNFCCC COP16 beginning Nov. 29 as the Sierra Club International Student Delegate.

WUSICE is an entirely student-driven organization founded in December 2009. Frustrated by the results of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Dec. 6-18, 2009, 10 undergraduate students decided to take action by planning and hosting the climate change conference.

“After Copenhagen, it disappointed us that the governments are not doing much, and we believe it is time for us students to start the international environmental collaboration,” Zhao says. “Through this conference, we students want to show the world that we care about the environment, want to collaborate and together make a better future.”

The objective of the conference is to initiate international collaboration at the undergraduate student level, says sophomore Karen Mok, WUSICE China liaison.

“This will begin with the United States and China, as they are the current top emitters of carbon dioxide emissions,” Mok says. “The long-term goal is to build a global collaborative network of undergraduate student action. Through dialogue, cultural understanding and joint projects, WUSICE will build the foundation for undergraduates to take decisive global action on climate change.”

The conference is sponsored by WUSICE, the Office of the Chancellor, the College of Arts & Sciences, InterChina Water Treatment Corporation, WUSTL Dining Services, Bon Appetit, the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, the Chinese Students Association and Student Union.

For more information on the conference, including a schedule of speakers and events, visit or e-mail Zhao at