World climate simulation

It took 23 years for UN climate negotiators to get from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris agreement, in 2015. And these are negotiators who, for the most part, already agreed on a shared objective – to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees and thus limit the worst effects of climate change. But it still took two decades.

Today, I took part in a climate change negotiation simulation, another event hosted by the City of Somerville for Sustainaville week. Essentially, a group of us got together for a little role play, representing different nations and regions in the climate change negotiation. It’s kind of like Model UN.

I was on a team representing the largest emerging economies, including China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. It was fun getting into negotiations, particularly trying to hold developed countries’ feet to the fire. We demanded they put in most of the funding for the global fund for mitigation and adaptation, for example, and they eventually conceded.

Here’s the thing, even in this group of climate change mitigation advocates, we couldn’t limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees. Our initial negotiation got us to 2.6 degrees, and another round of negotiations got it down to 2.5 degrees. The 2 degree scenario, as we played with the simulation more, depends on addressing emissions pretty much immediately. It was a sobering realization.

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