Negotiate an international climate change agreement at the Hutchinson Center

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to sit at a table negotiating climate policy with nearly 200 representatives from countries throughout the world?

University of Maine graduate students Anna McGinn and Will Kochtitzky, who attended the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland last December, will facilitate a two-hour, interactive simulation of World Climate Negotiations 5–8 p.m. May 9 at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center. Molly Schauffler of the UMaine School of Earth and Climate Sciences and a faculty member at the Hutchinson Center also will facilitate.

During the three-hour guided, interactive simulation, which is free and open to the public, participants will learn how climate negotiations work. They will experience how negotiators interact and what decisions they need to make to agree on commitments that will reduce global carbon emissions sufficiently to meet the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

The lively, engaging session is designed to deepen participants’ insight into the climate negotiation process and the nature of the challenges that a rapidly changing climate poses to the world’s citizens and governments.

Participants are assigned a country (or regional country block) to represent and are given background information. The simulation proceeds through three “formal” negotiation sessions, with time to regroup and negotiate informally with other countries between the formal negotiation sessions.

The collective task is to agree on commitments and a time frame to reduce greenhouse gases, increase forestation, and contribute to a global green climate fund to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Commitments pledged by participants are fed into a climate policy simulation model, C-ROADS, which predicts the impact of the commitments on global temperature. The world climate simulation activity and the C-ROADS model were developed by the organization Climate Interactive in partnership with the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Climate Change Initiative at UMass Lowell.

The simulation activity and model have been used to bring international climate negotiations to life with public audiences and school groups in over 850 events in 74 countries around the world since 2015.

Participants need not have any particular background knowledge about negotiations or climate change; information needed will be provided at the outset of the activity. Quick access to data about countries also will be available to participants during the simulation.

Facilitators McGinn and Kochtitzky are graduate students in the Climate Change Institute. McGinn is studying climate policy, and how people are adapting to the impacts of climate change at the international level, as well as at a local level, using a case study in Nicaragua. Kochtitzky is studying why glaciers in Alaska become unstable, how they are responding to climate change, and why they contribute more to sea level rise than any other group of mountain glaciers on Earth.

Schauffler coordinates science programing at the Hutchinson Center, and works with middle and high school teachers to improve data literacy and climate education.

The Belfast event is a collaboration between the University of Maine Hutchinson Center, the UMaine School of Policy and International Affairs, the UMaine Climate Change Institute and the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.

A light dinner of vegetarian chili and cornbread will be served. To reduce carbon footprints participants are invited to bring their own bowls and spoons; however, paper products will be available.

To register or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Michelle Patten, 338.8002;