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Insights from COP25 – the Simulation and the Conference

Last week, over 80 UMN Sustainability Studies students simulated the complex negotiations of the UN Climate Change Conference. At the same time, a delegation of 13 UMN faculty, staff and graduate students attended the ACTUAL conference in Madrid. Both groups identified the importance of taking initiative, by countries and even by individuals. They also both saw a need to consider differences between communities and to make use of financial incentives, systems of accountability and more radical solutions than are currently being considered.

In the classroom World Climate Simulation, the students stepped into the roles of climate negotiators and then successfully negotiated a global climate change solution that held down greenhouse gas emissions to just over 2.0 degrees celsius in the remainder of this century (this is better than the Paris Agreement). The students played the roles of six key countries or regions of the world – a simplification of the actual negotiations between 196 countries – but still an enormous challenge. The simulation is free, available online and very accessible to those who have never attended a climate negotiation, and is a great resource for faculty members, teachers or anyone involved in climate change outreach and communication.

The University’s delegation members each bring a unique perspective, connected to their varied expertise and interests. Several are providing regular twitter updates and photos at #MNCOP25, and two wrote blogs for a Minnesota-based climate education organization, Climate Generation, in their well-curated and insightful Window on COP25.

Kristen Mastel, a UMN outreach librarian serving Institute on the Environment and other departments, blogged about her experience at COP25 and the unique support role for libraries:

I am the first librarian most attendees have met in this setting. This has provided an opportunity to discuss with attendees and officials the role libraries play in not only supporting climate change research, but also actual support to the communities (e.g. providing a safe space during extreme weather events, programming, and resiliency open dialogues).

Picture Credit: Kristin Mastel

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