Role-Playing Climate Conference – Day 2

After the second day, there were two issues that I heard the most about:1) what should be done about getting more participation in the discussion, and 2) should the group be focusing almost exclusively on funding environmental action in the developing world? Address both of these issues by stating whether you think each is a concern, and if there is something that should be done about it. Please post your comments by noon on Monday.

17 Responses to “Role-Playing Climate Conference – Day 2”

  1. willbennett2012 says:

    It seemed like this past class participation rose some, which I thought was helpful in the discussion.
    On the 2nd point, I think this is not more important necessarily, but I would say equally important. My impression was that the fund in the task sheets was designed as some sort of a transition fund to aid in both the effects that are already upon us, and the costs of implementing new technologies to combat climate change. I don’t see how we could run a climate conference like this without some discussion of funding for new technological implementation.

    • Tori Wong says:

      I agree with will, I think while the conversation was still dominated by a select few “countries,” participation did increase with the discussion of funding. I know that there are some countries, however that have very strong positions (some developing countries that aren’t even asking for money!) that can definitely throw a new angle into the negotiations.

      Second, I think funding is a HUGE part of these negotiations, but I think I may have lost sight of the end goal for a second. We ultimately need to come up with emissions goals for each of our blocs by Thursday…there is definitely a way for us to combine the funding goals that we’ve already discussed with the emissions goals we need to develop. Using the “wedges” as a guide, we’ve already seen where and how much we can reduce our emissions by in one year, I suggest we try to finish the money discussion Tuesday after the reaction statements, and all come to class Thursday with emissions numbers?

  2. James Cruz says:

    1. Class participation did rise, yet we all desire more class participation. However, we need to keep in mind that some countries will tend to dominate the conversation more, regardless of who is representing it. For example if a person who never talked was the United States of America no matter what they will participate more in the conversation than someone who is representing a less developed country. We must keep this in mind before we jump to believing the lack of participation of some is only a product of apathy, lack of preparation, etc.

    2. I am not sure if I am understanding the second question, but I think we should focus more on the developed world. I made this point when I gave my brief introduction for China, but the rise of the middle class comes with an increasing desire for affluence. Perception of affluence and social class are social constructs, dependent on existing examples. Today the universal example is the western method, which so far has been negligent of the environment.

    If the Western world adopts a truly Eco friendly model it will be much easier for the peoples of the developing nations to follow suit.

  3. Sara Zolnick says:

    I think the class participation level went up drastically and that definitely helped the conversation flow better.
    As for the second question, I think it’s important to know the funding necessary but I also think we should focus more on what we actually need to do to complete our goals and reason with the funding if we have time in the end. I think our conversation did not necessarily apply to the over all goal when we focused so much on funding. We should figure out exactly what each country needs to do to reduce their emission levels or reforest their land instead of how much it would cost to do so. Since this is a hypothetical situation, I’m not sure the funding should be our priority, although it is important to the overall picture.

  4. Amanda Howland says:

    1) I think it is important to keep in mind what James said when he said “some countries will tend to dominate the conversation more, regardless of who is representing it” but that other countries who don’t speak is not a result of their “product of apathy, lack of preparation, etc.” While all around class participation has increased some, some people still do the majority of the speaking. However, I believe that it is important to let others speak too. We are all getting graded here and it’s not fair for the major countries to do all the speaking while the smaller countries never get a chance to speak. I know I had a lot to say in class Thursday but seriously every time I went to talk someone always interrupted me and spoke over me (and I know this happened to other students too). Maybe, from now on, we could ask if anyone else had anything to say before we moved on to another topic, such as when we were talking about natural gas. My country, Singapore, relies entirely on natural gas for electricity, currently importing 155 million cubic feet per day, and I feel as though I really could have contributed to the conversation about that topic if only I had the chance to actually speak before we moved on.
    2) While funding environmental action in the developing world is an important topic and needs to be addressed, I also think we should focus on reducing actual emissions in our countries. After all, by Thursday each group has to come up with a proposal for reduced emissions. Maybe we could split the remainder of the two days up into focusing on each topic. Both of these topics are very important and I believe we need to remain focused to get everything done on time while still thoroughly discussing each topic, especially tying the wedges into the funding environmental action topic.

  5. McKenna Lehman says:

    I agree with most people, when they say that the two class periods should be divided. However, I think we are close to wrapping up our discussion on funding, so hopefully we can finish our “wedge” plan/fund by the middle of class on Tuesday and then spend the rest of the time figuring out our proposals for reducing emmissions. Funding is important, it is the only way some of the developing countries will be able to decrease their emissions at all, and therefore it needs to be talked about. However, it is not solely the job of the Developing countries to decrease emissions. More Developing countries, as Tori and James had mentioned, have some pressure they need to put on the Developed countries. Also, discussion was definitely expanded last time between more people, which was great. Even though I know it’s frustrating to be interrupted and talked over, that’s just how it works sometimes, especially when things get heated (which can sometimes add for a fun debate!) SO although I think it is important for everyone to speak, maybe they need to be just as outspoken as others. It’s hard to stop a discussion (especially if it’s a heated one) just so one person can talk. Maybe they can interrupt just like they got interrupted (this obviously isn’t the best way to do it, but maybe it’s the only way.) Overall, I’m really happy with the way things are going and am interested to see how the rest of this pans out.

  6. Kelly Horvath says:

    I think participation from other countries did increase from the first class discussion to the second one. Although some countries spoke more than others, it helped make the conversation flow and added some structure to the discussion, which encourages the countries to reach a conclusion. I think participation from various countries will continue to increase.

    Funding for implementing climate change is extremely important so I think it is okay to focus on that, but obviously it should not be all that we discuss. As others mentioned, we should address the issue of the pressure from developed nations towards the developing nations to lower emissions, along with emissions goals since proposals are due by the end of the last discussion. We should continue to use the “wedges” scenario in order to calculate how much money is needed from the developed nations and then end with a discussion of the other topics and the final emissions plans from the groups.

  7. kscrimsh says:

    The participation is going up, but it could stand to be higher. There are just countries that are more inclined to be opinionated about a specific issue. I think giving brief overviews of everyones countries was an excellent idea because it really helped make all the countries become more aware of everyone else.
    In reference to question 2, I do not believe the entire conference topic should be on the financial situation and trying to figure out exactly how much money should go where. Instead there should be discussion on what each country has to offer in reducing the emissions. Although finding out the financial situation will need to be done at some point,I believe the discussion needs to be steered in a direction that will include more participation.
    Tying in both of these issues, perhaps to get other countries to talk more and to get the conference moving a little bit more, maybe there should be a focus less on specific monetary funding and more on what countries will do to reduce, how they will reduce, and what certain countries can do to help pitch in and contribute. There should probably be more discussion on the wedges with less of how much it will take to get it done, to what needs to get done first.

  8. Brian Brown says:

    The discussion of different technologies to solve environmental problems was a good means to open discussion to more students, but still, James brings up a good point. Some countries are going to be more involved in the discussion simply because their political, economic, power etc dictates so. Talking about funding did help bring other countries to the table and I’m not entirely sure how to go beyond that. To consider it further, in an actual UN conference would Singapore or South Africa as deeply involved in the proceedings as the US? I’m not entirely sure where the line, how the authenticity of the role play can be reconciled with the expectations of discussion.

    Secondly, I’m a little pessimistic about the funding aspect. It seems arbitrary on the level that it glazes over the actual problems nations are facing in simply saying that 500million will simply solve deforestation for one nation. But I suppose UN conferences don’t necessary care for the process but more the consideration that they are considering it. Overall, to somehow resolve funding, divvy up who is contributing what, and then setting goals for cutting emissions etc seems quite unreasonable by Thursday considering the pace of discussion so far.

  9. Valerie says:

    I agree with a lot of what has been said, Tori brought up a good point that in our quest to reach a compromise with funding we have lost sight of the true goal. While it is all fine and good to discuss funding as an option I think too much focus and emphasis on the actual mechanics of that is unnecessary and pulls away from what could otherwise be a meaningful discussion on more issue based topics. Furthermore, it places all emphasis on the lesser developed countries needing aid that the more developed countries can supply rather than discussing that the more developed countries need to be doing. While the more developed countries have money this doesn’t mean their environmental obligations and goals are being met. No attention has been brought to this. So far it seems like the lesser developed countries are being pitted against the more developed countries and it feels like we are begging and making excuses more than discussing which would be more beneficial.

    Participation is an issue, and I agree with what many have expressed here that conversation seems to be dominated by a few countries, and I think a shift away from the current conversation on funding and more of an issue based conversation would help this. I also think it would be helpful to have a proctor who could direct questions at certain countries sometimes if it felt like they weren’t speaking up. For example someone could say “I know Iran has a vested interest in natural gas but don’t you have an interest as well, Pakistan?” just an example, and not a particularly good one, but none the less it would be a good way to stimulate conversation and include others. It would be a kind of speaker of the house position of sorts. But honestly, I think a discussion that is more about issues and less about nit picky logistics would help exponentially.

  10. Tomoya says:

    1.) I agree that some groups, especially the developed countries since money is being asked from them, will be talking more but there was more participation the second day than there was on the first day from both developed and developing countries. Since this is being treated as more of a debate the only effective way of getting a lot of participation is by blurting out what you want to say rather than raising hands.

    2.) Though I felt we did a good job at finding out what half of the countries needed for funds along each wedge, I still feel, as I stated in my brief introduction, that more attention needs to be focused on what the developed countries intend on doing to drastically reduce CO2 emissions since they are the major contributes to the world wide problem. Some countries, such as the Philippines don’t need money so much and have already taken several important steps towards a greener environment.

  11. Brandy Simpson says:

    While I think funding is an important part of the conference, I do not think the group should be focusing exclusively on this aspect. Although there is a bit of a time restraint, I believe that there should have been at least a small part of the discussion dedicated to the actual programs each country will be implementing to reduce carbon emissions. Even though we got a brief overview of each country’s plan, looking at the finer details of each country’s plan may have made the funding discussion go smoother.

    I agree with the general consensus that there are some countries that will naturally play a larger role in the conference and will therefore participate more. In the case of the developing countries, I believe that the phrase “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” can be applied. If a developing country consistently tries to get their country’s view into the debate, then the other countries will eventually take notice.

  12. Kelsey Voss says:

    Participation has improved. There is no other way we can get more people to participate without forcing them to prepare another statement to share with the class individually. What could help though is better quality discussion, which can get smaller countries more involved. Developing countries should come to class prepared to present what they are proposing, and the amount of funds they will need. Each country should be able to speak up about what they have to offer. (ex: my country uses a lot of coal, so our “offer” of what would help the world the most, is to cut back on our coal use)
    Funding is important, but the most important thing is to determine where funding will be used most efficiently. Countries that have large emissions and poor economies should get the bulk of the funding, because in the big picture, more emissions will be reduced this way. I think its important for people to realize that not every developing country can get funding, and the ones that do get funding can’t get funding for every problem they are facing. If people really want to be smart about this, instead of just asking for money from developed countries, they should think about ways that they can come up with their own funding for projects. (ex: india has put a tax on coal.. which is what they consume the most… the tax collected from this is going into a national fund to create renewable energy projects) Other countries should be able to raise a good amount of money on their own with strategies like this. This could make the discussion on funding a bit easier, if we aren’t requesting absurd amounts of cash.

  13. Jaclyn says:

    I apologize for the lateness of this posting. Firstly, I think class discussion improved in the aspect that more people got involved in the discussion, and the introduction of the other countries definitely helped everyone see what we were dealing with as a global problem. The problem of participation still exists, but in the aspect that in many ways, including myself, we were discussing on the more abstract topic of what would work and what would not work than representing our own countries in this dilemma.

    Secondly, I do not believe that the discussion should be based completely on what the developing countries should do to help the global climate crisis, but to focus on top of the how we are going to do it and add what we are going to do it with (what resources we need), why we are doing this( how this would help the global climate crisis) and lastly what actions should we take to protect our main goal of decreasing CO2 emissions and so forth, in keeping our main focus of the crisis but also have room to address the problem that as people the actions we take usually have their own consequences that follow and we as counties and as the world need to be prepared for these consequences, how we are going to do that has yet to be discussed, and to me is critical to be discussed for any plans of fixing this crisis to be solved.

  14. ehall says:

    1) I feel that participation was a lot higher than in the previous discussion, although I feel that it could be higher. I know that there were some comments that I wanted to add in to the conversation, but the conversation had been extended so much that it was not feasible for me to add it my comments. I do not feel, however, that there is any way to do fix this, as there were important other points being made, and it is up to me to speak up.
    2) I feel that there should be focus on funding for the developing world, but also on the developed world. The developed world should not only help those that need funds to be pushed past the “dirty energy” but they should also help their own countries continue to create clean energy. I feel that we should have time in class to be able to discuss in class this issue, as well as the other issues brought up.

  15. Kaley Huston says:

    1) Although I did not attend the first day of discussions, I noticed an increase in class participation from what I had heard about past involvement. The funding seemed to get everyone talking, which in these economic times is understandable. The most notable debate was that of the developed/developing countries with the United States and Canada. I thought the wedges was a good, inclusive solution but some countries disagreed with my assertion. However, disagreement caused more dialogue, which is how these things get solved in real world conferences and hearings. We left the last class with more dialogue still to be had, which can be continued in the next session. With the reaction statements to follow, I believe every country has a personal connection to the material being presented. Every country has to have an opinion of what the other team is presenting. This requires discussion and reactions. I expect that tomorrow will involve the same amount if not more discussion from the other countries.
    2) I think that developing countries and developed countries have different issues that need to be funded and addressed. I think developed countries have a responsibility to not make the same mistakes they made with developing countries. Developing countries also have more capacity to get environmentalism, technology and development to be more sustainable. I think both aspects need to be equally addressed.

  16. Stephanie George says:

    1) Participation did increase, but efficiency in getting anything accomplished did not seem to increase. After two days of discussion, there is still a general feeling of ambiguity as to what specific actions are necessary and can be agreed upon. As is usual in all our class discussions, I feel that opinions and solutions have only been brought up and or discussed in any meaningful fashion by a select few people in the class. I would love to see more countries, especially those with a lot at stake and/or a lot of important resources, contribute more to the discussion.

    2) As the United States, I have generally gotten the feeling of being seen as a blank check to be filled out and apportioned to whoever wants monetary aid for the issue. While some countries such as Brazil have made clear that they fully intend to do their part in reducing emissions, most other countries are resistant to or at least have yet to express their action plans. Some countries have simply thrown out figures of what money they need, but haven’t taken the important step to look at the bigger picture of this issue.

    Overall, I’d like to see ALL country representatives be more vocal and concise in what they are and are not willing to do, as well what aid they need to be able to reach our goals. I’d rather have more people involved, even if it means there is a good amount of disagreement on the issues at hand, than continue on with the current air of apathy. Everyone knows how heated real political debates and action proposal discussions become. Everyone in the class is genuinely interested and concerned with the issue of climate change. Let’s try to make this role-playing assignment reflect our passion for the planet, even if the country we represent doesn’t have the planet’s best interest in mind.