December 6, 2019
By: Kristen Mastel, Institute on the Environment COP25 Delegation

A Librarian’s Perspective on Climate Change

We are halfway through the first week of the UNFCCC and what a whirlwind it has been.

This is my first COP, so everything is new and a bit confusing. We need an acronym binder to keep track of all the abbreviations thrown around in every session. Also, based on everyone’s reactions, I am the first librarian most attendees have met in this setting. This has provided an opportunity to discuss with attendees and officials the role libraries play in not only supporting climate change research, but also actual support to the communities (e.g. providing a safe space during extreme weather events, programming, and resiliency open dialogues).

Since I am not doing actual climate research, this has provided me with the freedom to attend sessions from many different tracks. The big issue this conference is addressing is Article 6 in the Paris Agreement. Article 6 focuses on a global carbon market system in order to help countries reach their emissions reductions targets, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Some of the key issues being discussed are: double counting, CDM credits, and mitigation. These sessions are standing room only, so we have to get there early to get a spot!

I was particularly interested in IPCC’s panel on “Science for Policymaking” yesterday. This session touched on many points that libraries and information professionals are trying to address: information access and dissemination issues, literacy, scholarly communication, and barriers to access and research distribution within the scholarly community, especially in the Global South.

Underrepresentation remains a large issue in the research world from the Global South and indigenous peoples; one piece of which is that the dominant language of science is English, hindering progress at the local and national levels. These are issues around global participation in research and publishing are ones that libraries are deeply concerned about. I would like to see more library staff participating in this arena and partnering with scientists, researchers, and organizations to help make progress on issues related to climate change.

I would like to thank the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment for this opportunity to attend COP25. If you would like to read more about my experience please follow me on Twitter at @klmlibrarian.