University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Prior to the COP I attempted to explain this UN Conference on Climate Change to a 12-year-old. I told her to imagine a typical Friday night for her and her friends. She loves going to the movies and so I had her imagine trying to plan all of the details involved in going to the theater. She said it was difficult to come up with a decision regarding whose parents will drive, how much people can spend, and what movie to attend. Then I told her to imagine that the whole world needs to go to the movie as soon as possible but everyone has different amounts of money, the theater cannot support all of the people, and everyone represents multiple interests of movie choices.
I was able to tell this story to the chair of the African group, a delegate from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and he explained the urgency that the world faces in collectively acting and changing the current policies. The movie analogy is an oversimplification of the situation. Attending the COP allows for a truly unique experience. One important aspect of the UNFCCC is the fact that the UN is principally based on democracy.
Based on the first day at COP 16, the buzz words in negotiations are legally binding agreement, equitability, comprehensiveness, ambition, stringent standards of emissions, inclusiveness, and most importantly, transparency. Democracy ensures that the majority will triumph. However, in this conference a total consensus is necessary. It is evident by being an American at the COP that the U.S. has more political clout, and if the U.S. is unable to agree on any resolutions that are passed, it will lack credibility and effectiveness. Many countries are looking for the U.S. to lead the world in climate change policy because it has been a global leader for arguably the last 40 years, but the U.S. was unable domestically to produce a federal policy, which limits their abilities to compromise and negotiate with other countries. So going to the movies is complicated, but of the utmost importance for the future of life as we know it.