The Perse School

Perse geographers challenged to reach agreement at mock UN Climate Change Conference

30 Nov 2018

With the United Nations Climate Change Conference set to get under way in Poland this weekend, Perse Upper Sixth geography students took part in their own mock UN assembly.

Representing the USA, the European Union, China, Russia, India, Australia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Venezuela and the Maldives, students acted as delegates as they aimed to reach an agreement on how to save the planet while also acting in the interests of their respective countries.

To add a further element of realism to the occasion, delegates were even greeted by a scrum of reporters, environmental and industrialist campaigners, all played by Year 9 drama enthusiasts, as they headed into the conference.

With three ‘delegates’ per nation, students researched their countries in groups and put forward their pledges for reducing greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2050 and how much of their GDP they would give to the cause of limiting climate change, overseen by the ‘UN secretary general’ – Perse Head of Geography James Riley.

The mock conference saw a global consensus reached on emission reductions and on financial contributions to the Green Climate Fund – the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s fund to assist developing countries in adapting and mitigating practices to counter climate change. However, their agreed figures would still mean, if climate change trends continue, the global temperature would hit three to four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and the financial pot would fall $70billion short of the intended $100billion target.

Mr Riley felt the event had been a useful exercise for the students in understanding the challenges that will be faced by delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference, which starts in Katowice on Sunday.

He said: “One thing I hope they learned is seeing that the process is difficult and it’s all about making compromises and giving away more than you want in some cases. We hope that those in Poland will do a better job than we did. There should be a lot more empathy from the students about the complicated nature of what’s going on and how hard it is to reach a global consensus, with 200 countries with different cultures, needs, populations, geographies and politics.”

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