One of my biggest concerns when I graduate Champlain is the fact that I have not had any true hands-on experience in developing policy that benefits our environment. Now, I know what your thinking: you are an environmental policy minor, how is this possible? Did you skip class on that day?
Well, let me explain: Many of the minor required Environmental Policy classes offered at Champlain do a great job at highlighting the issues that are often brought up at these climate summits we have been hearing more and more about (issues such as increasing methane levels, acid rain, deforestation, and many more). However in many cases, the extent to which these issues are covered dies down at the fundamental understanding level. While I am sure that Environmental Policy Majors have a much greater opportunity to focus on the drafting, lobbying, and implementing of Environmental Policy measures, I still want an opportunity to experience the politics of environmental policy myself!
While this hankering of mine took a backseat to my other coursework and my quest to understand how to actually create GIS maps, the idea became reintroduced to me in a very pleasant manner. I received an email from my mother asking if I would like to attend an event with her called the “World Climate Project”, as this event was scheduled to take place in Boston over my Spring Break. Skeptical, and distracted, I requested more information about this event before committing either way. I was sent an email link to the World Climate Project’s website which explained what entailed at the event, and instantly I knew this may be the best chance at getting some policy implementation practice in before I graduate this spring.
When I got back to Massachusetts for spring break, I decided I needed to conduct some research on the project, as the exacts were certainly unclear to me. Luckily, the World Climate Project had a rather comprehensive website that would answer any general questions. Almost instantly my perception that this event would be low-key was shattered. One of the first things on the project’s website that stands out is the formation of the World Climate Project. After reading up on the website, I learned the initiative was launched by the US Government in 2015 as an effort to engage tens of thousands of people worldwide around climate change
In summation, this project takes the form of a simplified international climate change meeting simulation. The site describes how one facilitator leads the group, playing the role of a UN leader, while each participant plays the role of a delegate representing a specific nation, company/organization with stake in the issue or even an interest group. Everyone then works together in their respective roles to reach a global agreement that successfully keeps climate change well below the preindustrial levels of Carbon emissions. Once the stakeholders find terms to agree on, a computer simulation provides rapid assessment of results to determine if (or how far off) the users were from the preindustrial mark of fossil fuel emissions
Instantly, I was wow’ed by this idea: could there be a better opportunity to gain the hands-on experience I desired? At this point, my mind was rushing with ideas about how I could get all my friends involved in this. The fundamental concept is brilliant, and the results are sure to show those who attend those conferences just how difficult it is to get anything substantial completed when dealing in a political setting. I almost called up the Director of the Environmental Policy department to learn more about the program and lobby for our own event in Burlington, as it seemed like a perfect place to hold an event that focuses so closely on climate change.
According to the World Climate Project’s website, 312 events held in 50 countries with 13,610 participants as of March 11, 2016. These numbers are showing a strong interest around the globe in understanding not only how climate change is becoming a keystone talking point of the near future While I have yet to tend this event, I can only hope it is as interesting and applicable to my post-college career as I hope it will be!
A quick synopsis of the Climate Change simulation: