195 A Mock United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for Undergraduates at the University of Oklahoma

Monday, 11 January 2016
Renee A. McPherson, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and A. Bamzai, E. Martin, and B. Moore III

Handout (23.7 MB)

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France, from 30 Nov to 11 Dec 2015 marks the Twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP11). The convention has the objective to achieve the first major binding, international agreement on climate since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997. Most nations agree to that increase in the global average temperature should stay below 2°C (and many think it should be lower), but agreement as to how to ensure temperatures do not exceed this threshold is difficult because of the vast differences in economic conditions, impacts of climate change, and governmental priorities from one nation to the next.

In a new, Fall 2015 course entitled “Managing for Climate Change,” the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences will mentor students toward understanding these differences and how to negotiate under international scrutiny. The course provides an integrative understanding of the components of the climate system, the range of natural climate variability, external drivers of climate change, impacts of a changing climate, and different approaches to policy solutions. A semester-long project divides students into groups of three and assigns each group a specific country to represent. The students research the physical and human geography of their country, its energy portfolio and economic drivers, the primary impacts of climate change on its society and environment, and policy positions taken by the country's delegates to the prior UNFCCCs. Using this information, student teams create their own policy positions and role play in a mock UNFCCC during the first week of the Paris convention. On the second week, they receive live tweets and blog postings from faculty members at the convention and develop reflective papers on what they learned throughout the semester.

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