COP26 – Earth Team Interns Negotiate a UN Climate Agreement

18 Earth Team interns role played as UN delegates to negotiate a climate agreement at our virtual Conference of the Parties.

On April 18th, 2020, 18 interns representing every high school’s Earth Team came together over Zoom to negotiate a climate agreement. For two hours, they were no longer a group of high school students; they were instead UN delegates and representatives of two special interest groups. This meeting was the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP26.

Earth Team’s COP26 focused on implementing COP21’s 2015 Paris Agreement. In other words, Earth Team interns needed to decide how different countries would make efforts to reduce global warming to 1.5C by 2100 and raise $100 billion for the Green Climate Fund.

Interns were split into 5 groups: Developed Countries, Developing A Countries, Developing B Countries, Fossil Fuel Lobbyists and Climate Activists. The country groups represented different Parties grouped together by development status. Each country group made pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and donate to the Green Climate Fund. Their pledges were entered into the C-ROADS model, which predicts global temperature rise by 2100. The Fossil Fuel Lobbyists and Climate Activists represented Non-Party observers who aimed to influence the Party pledges.

After several rounds of negotiations and learning that investing in technological innovation is necessary, COP26 was successful! The interns reached both goals and signed the 2020 Zoom Agreement. This meeting would not have been possible without adapting the World Climate Simulation, developed by the think tank Climate Interactive, in partnership with the MIT Sloan School of Management and the UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative.

Here’s what the interns thought of the event:

I enjoyed meeting other earth team members and talking to them and trying to find a compromise for the nations.

My position, developing B really taught me that smaller nations can try to do their best but it can do almost nothing if the others don’t help.

I enjoyed making deals and seeing the final result finally going down.

One thing I learned was how to negotiate with other people. One thing I enjoyed was listening to other people’s ideas.

One thing I learned is it will take an immense amount of effort, energy and participation to get the temperature down to 1.5. What I enjoyed was being able to make deals and negotiate.

Listen to intern negotiations here:

Or, watch a 16 minute summary of the event here:

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