Climate Change Institute member profile: Aaron Tang

11 December 2018

PhD student, Aaron Tang

Back in 2015, Aaron Tang was a ‘somewhat directionless’ undergraduate student, who was unsure what he wanted to do with his life.

Over the next couple of years, he attended various Climate Change Institute (CCI) events, including one on the Paris Climate Agreement and a debate on Trump’s plan to exit the Agreement.

“Those CCI events are what got me into being a good student in the first place and gave me the motivation to be more deeply engaged”, he said.  

“That’s really why I’m here today.  The combination of people at those events – researchers, diplomats, policymakers, negotiators - piqued my attention.   Where else in Canberra could you have such a fascinating, interdisciplinary discussion and debate?”

Aaron is now studying for his PhD on the international politics and environmental governance of the emerging field of carbon dioxide removal, known as negative emissions.

“My work is largely about the future – many negative emissions technologies are still theoretical and don’t exist yet,” he said. “It’s a matter of understanding the problems broadly from many different perspectives and synthesising those perspectives to try to figure out what we can do in future.”

Aaron has also found the interdisciplinary nature of the CCI has helped him immensely.

“I’m in the business of understanding people. I can’t do that from the perspective of politics or economics or sociology alone, so the guidance and networks that the CCI have given me are so fantastic.”  

“The contacts I’ve got from the Institute have been so useful - Mark Howden (CCI Director) and Bec Colvin (Knowledge Exchange Specialist) have introduced me to people I wouldn’t have found otherwise.  For example, they connected me with my PhD supervisor Andrew Macintosh from Law. I have no Law background and it never occurred to me to look in that direction, but Bec and Mark helped open up this option for me. ”

He’s also found CCI’s knowledge sharing and communications to be really useful.      

“Knowing what’s going on via the newsletter, attending events like the CCI member breakfast and hearing about new research all help keep me sharp and across the bigger picture.”

Aaron attended the United Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP24) in December 2018 and has his first PhD publication in the pipeline with several more planned.