In early September, hundreds of people came together at the Global Climate Action Summit to address climate change and to “Take Ambition to the Next Level”. This conference has been developed on the belief that all social sectors play a critical role in mitigating climate change and have the responsibility to collectively commit to this mission. Undergraduate computer engineering student, Nikko Bouck was invited to the summit as a youth delegate and attended as a representative of UC San Diego.
Reflecting on his experience, Nikko summarized by saying “Thousands of dignitaries and delegates at this event were working to build some kind of sustainable infrastructure, system, or business” and iterated that much of the conversation revolved around the electrification of the transportation sector. While he appreciated the intent of the e-vehicle movement, he was critical of the hazards created by lithium-ion battery waste. Because battery recycling has not been developed to a sustainable and standardized scale, he worries that converting to electric vehicle fleets will catalyze “an ubiquitous environmental problem, as [lithium-ion batteries] are certainly volatile and can burn at great temperatures if not disposed of correctly”.
In voicing these concerns, Nikko also elaborated on potential solutions via his non-profit organization One Habitat Foundation. His organization has developed a software called Operation Trash Route that will be “introducing an e-waste collection option as a way to reduce the hassle people face when trying to find hazardous waste disposal”. He discussed this project with many representatives at the summit, including small-business owners, the Buenos Aires President of the EPA, and a member of the Mayoral Committee in Johannesburg.
Nikko truly embodied the theme of the Climate Action Summit – “Take Ambition to the Next Level”. Instead of simply celebrating the idea of converting the transportation sector to electric vehicles, he processed it with a critical eye and is making efforts to address its weaknesses.
Nikko was the 2018 recipient of UC San Diego Sustainability’s Outstanding Student Award. Read more about his accomplishments here.