“The numbers need to go up! Be reasonable! Be practical!”
Representatives from the U.S., China, India, the European Union (EU) and other developed and developing nations scrambled around Newcomer 19, as they frantically searched for negotiations with each other that would help alleviate the global climate crisis.
The bartering continued as promises were made, accusations thrown around and national budgets stretched.
Senior Mandira Panta arranged the mock UN climate negotiation as a way to involve students in a real-world experience on how countries come together in an attempt to solve the greatest threat facing the world in the coming years. The simulation, generated by Climate Interactive, has gained traction around the world and 1,355 events have been held in 93 different countries.
Students were assigned a country or set of countries to represent before they entered the room, and as they gathered with their other delegates, they were each given information about what their country wanted from the process.
The simulation was broken into five parts: an introduction of rules and guidelines, description of roles, two sets of negotiation time and a debrief period.
Negotiations were the bulk of the process as delegates met with one another, keeping in mind their country’s wants and needs while also trying to keep global climate change levels below a 2 degrees Celsius increase by 2100.
Delegates weighed carbon emission goals, deforestation and afforestation rates for their countries as well as money each of them was willing to contribute to Green Climate Fund.
Participants role-played to reenact a real climate negotiation as best they could, passionately encouraging the U.S. to increase their allocated budget to the Green Climate Fund.
Senior Becca Choi and sophomore Anna McVay, both U.S. delegates, held firm at giving $3 billion to the fund through negotiation one, but were persuaded to commit $8 billion once the delegates saw they were still at a 2.6 degrees Celsius temperature increase.
This, along with other changes in countries plans were not enough in the end, as the nations gathering were not able to minimize the temperature increase in the two negotiation sessions.
Panta emphasized in the debrief period how much power students have in this process beyond the simulation, encouraging participants to vote for representatives who care about issues like climate change.
“Citizens like us have so much power…we are the ones who form that group who care about the people who care about the environment,” Panta said.
Participants reflected on their experiences in the debrief period.
“Because it’s a simulation, it’s easier to ask for more extreme measures than what would be practical in the real world,” junior Luke Mullen said.