They say ‘travel broadens the mind’. I truly believe this is the reason why hundreds of students traveled from different corners of the world to the southernmost city in the Netherlands – Maastricht – where they took part in the 10th European Model United Nations – EuroMUN.
On behalf of IOGP, my colleague Olaf Martins and I went to join them.
On 27th April, Maastricht was a city of celebration to mark the Dutch King’s birthday – but we refused to be distracted and went straight to work with students taking on the role of diplomats and ambassadors, representing different countries. It was as exciting as it sounds!
Having studied international relations, I love the fact that in EuroMUN you get to put into practice the theories you encounter while studying. You also get to negotiate and lobby just like a real diplomat! I’m sure it is very enriching for all young people to interact with their peers from diverse continents and cultures; expanding horizons through debating global issues and looking for real solutions.
At the Maastricht EuroMUN, the IOGP delegation was involved in sessions related to the development of African countries, reduction of carbon emissions and the improvement of the air quality in the European Union. A number of politicians have been debating these issues for a long time and by now it’s become clear that there is no silver bullet to solves them. But oil and gas do also have an important part to play. Olaf and I took the opportunity to highlight that at the EuroMUN sessions.
In a nutshell, we emphasized that:
- Switching from coal to gas can halve carbon emissions from power stations and so help countries adhere the agreements made at the UN’s COP21 session in Paris. Improved energy efficiency, alongside measures targeting end-users, will further reduce CO2 emissions.
- In Africa, oil and gas companies embrace the concept of hiring local workers and buying locally-produced supplies. For this reason, they have come together to support the Skills for Oil and Gas Africa (SOGA) project, a partnership linking the governments of the UK, Germany and Norway. The SOGA project aims to get around 32,000 East Africa residents into sustainable work by 2020, with 35% of those women and 40% aged 15-24.
- Cleaner-burning natural gas is also helping to improve air quality thanks to its lower emissions. Gas scores better than coal on SOx and NOx. Burning gas gives off virtually none of the particulates associated with respiratory diseases. That’s why there has been a widespread shift from coal to natural gas in power and heat generation, as well as in residential heating.
It was interesting how the young and bright students reacted to our recommendations. While they naturally challenged us, they were curious about what else the oil and gas industry can do to help resolve global challenges.
Personally, I hope that one day the EuroMUN alumni will recall Olaf’s and my remarks on the role of oil and gas and fuel their own energy debates in their future careers.
About Kamila Piotrowska
Born in Poland, Kamila been part of IOGP’s EU Affairs Brussels team for 5 years. She is responsible for energy, climate and air quality policy issues. Before joining IOGP, she did traineeship at the European Commission’s DG for Education and Culture, where she followed the activities of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. Kamila holds two Master’s Degrees: one in international relations and the second in European Studies.