Devan Hawkins became passionate about trying to explain the urgency of climate change when, as a student at North Middlesex Regional High School, his history professor, Mr. McEvoy, challenged him to get a letter to the editor published in a local paper. Since then, Devan has continued working to make climate change science, politics, and policy options more accessible to the general public. Later this month, he will bring those skills to Doha, Qatar, for the next round of United Nations climate talks.
The Pepperell native, now a biology and epidemiology student at UMass Lowell, will be traveling to the Middle East with SustainUS, a volunteer-led youth NGO which has been sending highly qualified young people to international summits for more than 10 years.
The conference in Qatar is the 18th annual meeting on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a process that brings together 194 countries to negotiate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the hopes of keeping average global temperature rise within two degrees Celsius, a threshold that scientists see as critical for containing damage to communities and ecosystems.
Hawkins was selected for the delegation based on his leadership role in the UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative, which regularly contributes resources to middle school and high school teachers to help bring climate-change education and communication into their classrooms.
He knows that change will not come easily, lamenting, "it is very disheartening to see how unwilling many people are to act, even though there is a much stronger willingness to protect ourselves against threats that have a far lower degree of certainty."