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COP26 - student negotiators best the politicians

Student delegates negotiateAs world leaders threw coins for luck at the closing of the G20 summit in Rome last weekend, delegates at the University of Warwick held their breath for the results of a weekend of tense negotiations at the 2021 Warwick Climate Negotiating Forum (WNCF).

Organised by and for students, the WCNF saw fifty attendees step into the shoes of delegates from 18 nations to hold their own global climate negotiations, with the aim of inspiring the next generation of climate campaigners.

Delegates sought to agree a wide variety of policy targets modelled on the real life COP themes, including overall emissions reductions, energy generation, deforestation, and carbon capture and storage.

Agreements were tested against a detailed computer simulation which showed that the policy package ultimately agreed by the delegates would cap global temperature increases at 2.1°C – better than the 2.4°C estimated as achievable by existing real-world commitments.

Warwick postgraduate student and President of the Forum, Todd Olive, said:

“This is a stark reminder of the scale of the challenge faced by the negotiators at COP26.

“Our group of passionate, dedicated student negotiators could not find a pathway compatible with preventing dangerous levels of global heating beyond 2°C – let alone one capable of restricting temperatures to 1.5°C, the higher-ambition target set by the Paris Agreement.

“We await with concern and interest the outcome of the real-world negotiations in Glasgow.”

Ubayd Khan, second year undergraduate student in Global Sustainable Development and delegate for Russia, said the negotiations were a “lively and eye opening experience that allowed me to develop a better understanding of the climate emergency from perspectives I would not have known otherwise.”

Second year Modern Languages and Economics student Rosy McGee, representing India, observed that “the most important point to take away from the event is that we need action now and we need everyone to get on board with that as soon as possible.”

In addition to headline emissions policies, delegates agreed a wide-ranging policy document covering international climate finance, restorative justice against unequal track records of historical emissions, and the impacts of the changing climate on biodiversity and ecosystems.

Passed unanimously by delegates after fraught last-minute amendments, the document calls for a substantial expansion of private-sector funding for climate adaptation in the Global South, in addition to technology transfers, targeted global investment in renewable energy, water desalination, and relocation programmes, in addition to a global enforcement mechanism under the UN with the power to fine countries for non-compliance with their own emissions reduction targets.

Delegates also committed to a $105bn annual Climate Adaptation Fund to support nations most vulnerable to climate change.

The event also featured a wide range of speaker and workshop events, made possible by the generous support of university staff and funding by the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

3 November 2021

  • Watch a short report on the event from Capital Midlands.


Sheila Kiggins

Media Relations Manager

Social Sciences

07876 218166