Event By Event: What happened
As the week draws to a conclusion and we continue reflecting on our memorable experience in NYC, I would like to take the chance to complete my review of the delegation, and give you a summary of what happened, event by event. As you may have already established, our journey was a hectic, but of course enjoyable venture. Throughout the week, we talked to leading academics in the global energy field to broaden our horizons on sustainable energy for the future. We also visited numerous community initiatives that may somehow prove pivotal for global energy on a worldwide scale. So, here's what happened...
Tuesday 1st November
Having all arrived in New York from our respective countries, we made our way to the hotel. Immediately, through no one's fault, we were rushed into a meeting with both Tori Edmiston and Al Benninghoff of the White Roofs project.
This project has developed rapidly in the space of a year, where many volunteers are involved in painting certain roofs White. And the aim of this is that the roofs will then reflect the sunlight, rather than absorb it. In my opinion, it is certainly a good organisation, if it is attracting interest from numerous non profit organizations. Hopefully we may see the majority of roofs in New York painted white at some point in the future, you never know!
Wednesday 2nd November
Following a relieving first night's sleep in the buzzing city, we were all set the following morning where we began the day at the UNISDR. It was set up in 1999, and has proved as a good source for countries in need following natural disasters. Some key points to that were noted were:
.That risk development is not keeping up with reduction
.Vulnerable areas of flooding are swiftly identified and maybe more investment needs to be put into those areas
.There is a big but focused gap between the dominating countries on "on the ground" countries. However, it does work effectively
.UN assistance isn't required as highly nowadays compared to previous years
We then all took turns round the table to explain about our respective countries' recent natural disasters, if any
Next up was a session with Jeremy Teperman at the Science Barge. Upon arrival, he greeted us at the gate, and led us in to the Center. Firstly, we were given a tour of the green house. There, we looked in depth at the method of growing "hydropronically". In this process, no soil is used. Then we had a look along the neighbouring Hudson River, before discovering the compost containers of waste disposals and dead plant cells. Throughout the visit, we learnt about the basics of growing hydropronics. Towards the brink of the Barge, are Solar Panels, that are in the ideal position to catch the sunlight. And even better, is the fact that the barge is located in a slightly more remote area of the city, which will only count as being beneficial.
At the end, we had a quick challenge of designing the "Ultra Effecient building", which was quite challenging.
After the talk with Jeremy Teperman at the Science Barge, we then took the minibus to the iSchool. There, we discussed about climate issues and how they can be resolved with some of the students at the school. Following a relaxed session, we were then given a tour around the school, and it was interesting to compare their ways of education.
Sun Works Center
Then were were driven off to the Sun Works Center. It is located in an ideal position, on one of the lower rooftops of a school. This, I think, helps to promote energy efficiency to younger generations, which was of course one of our key topics that provoked heavy debate. Again, it was quite similar to the Science Barge, where we were elaborating on our learning of hydropronics from earlier on.
One thing I found quite positive was that this hydropronics is only just taking off, and we should expect to see a lot more interest in it in future years. Hydropronics is high yielding and efficient, with energy and water effieciency vital. Urban agriculture can bring STEM to the lives of the young. And Belgium, Israel and the US are three notable countries in terms of hydropronics. NASA currently are carrying out the most research on this method of growing.
Thursday 3rd November
From an early point, we began our day working, with Tim Jones, a lead chemist and also Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Warwick, joining us in a breakfast session. With him, we discussed about the significance of solar energy economically. What was interesting was where we learnt that silicon panels may not be worth their value in terms of the watts they generate.
Then we went to the United Nations Headquarters. There, we had a tour of the building. I was most excited about visiting the General Assembly, which was fantastic. During the tour, we had a look at their developmental goals.
Afterwards, it was time to visit Solar One. This is a community space for education where all power used is collected from the solar panels above. Also, we were intrigued to know about the upcoming Solar Two building. It is to be a Net Zero building, the first of its kind in New York. Two points raised that I was personally interested in were:
.the Oo-Gen systems (capturing waste energy)
.And the Post-Consumer Society (looking to raise awareness to everybody to save energy and to reiterate that it needs to be done)
Penultimately, we went to the UNIDO programme. UNIDO stands for the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation. George Assaf was briefly in attendance, and it was a great experience to meet him. After a short talk with him about the plan, we also spent time with other staff there discussing the environmental aspects of UNIDO's ambitions.
UNIDO's core functions are:
.Analysis and policy advice
Some key points I went away with included the fact that most countries that develop are to go through industrialization. Next year is also the International Year of Energy for all. Recommend by UNIDO, the three Rs are "Reduce, Recycle and Reuse". Industry sectors are where UNIDO puts a lot of focus on. They don't focus on tariff barriers. Also, developing countries may find it difficult to cooperate fully with the bid to create energy policies, and private sectors sometimes worry about whether their investments are worthwhile in the project.
Baroness Amos Reception
So we headed back to the hotel to get ready, anticipating what was to be a great night at the BBC Worldwide Studios at the Hippodrome. It was for the Inaugral David VandeLinde Lecture, where Baroness Amos was lead speaker. And it was a great experience to hear the voice of the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. During the question time, we asked her questions, some of which may have caught her off guard. At the end, we queried her further about general topics. In all, it was enlightening to come away with that experience.
Friday 4th November
We awoke last Friday, with a quieter morning ahead. First of all, we had a boardroom discussion with Professor Margot Finn of the University of Warwick, who kindly gave her time to discuss climate issues that challenge the world today as well as the historical factors to it.
It was a challenging debate, and we all seemed to jump in when there was the chance to talk about education future generations about future energy, with the possibility of it being put onto the curriculum. Some agreed, others had their own opinion. All in all, it was a good review.
Unfortunately, our talk with May Boeve was cancelled, so we instead used the time to update our blogs. At midday, we jumped onto the minibus to go to NYU Chemistry Department. There, we were given a presentation by Dr. Zhong Lee. He talked to us about his in depth findings of Organic Solar Cells.
Our last energy-related visit of the trip concluded when we visited the UNDP to talk to Stephen Gitonga. UNDP look at climate issues from a development point of view. Its primary objectives are:
1.Universal Energy Access (Expanding resource access for a much higher proportion of the world's population)
2.Energy efficiency (not just for energy but also for the security of countries)
3. Financing for Governments and Energy Service Delivery.
UNDP looks closely at leakages, especially in less economically developed countries, where there is a lot of corruption.
Saturday 5th November
Our last day was spent seeing the sights, and it was brilliant, visiting the 9/11 Memorial, walking the high line, taking a cruise past the Statue of Liberty to Staten Island and back, and also walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
All in all then, we enjoyed our trip to New York to the full extent, and learnt a lot. I am overly satisfied that I've had this great opportunity. I will be regularly updating the blog with my thoughts on certain factors of global energy, beginning with how Public Transport can play a part in energy efficiency next week...