F&ES students participating in Durban climate conference

Twenty-five students from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) are participating in the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, which opened Nov. 28.

The students are in Durban to support vulnerable small island states in their negotiations, represent official delegations, lobby, blog, and immerse themselves in the arcana of bureaucratic give-and-take. They researched, tracked, and wrote briefs on important issues for negotiating teams in preparation for the conference and will be analyzing and defending positions in draft texts of the countries they are representing during negotiations.

The students are representing the small island states of Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Maldives, as well as Latvia and Afghanistan.

“These students are well-prepared to inject themselves into the substance of the proceedings,” says Roy Lee, who teaches an Environmental Diplomacy Practicum at F&ES. “The Yale team has formed a supportive network to share information and keep each other apprised of quicksilver changes in events.”

Delegates from 194 nations are gathering in Durban to seek agreement on ways to address climate change, specifically the differing obligations of industrialized and developing nations, the question of who will pay to help poor nations adapt, the urgency of protecting tropical forests, and the need to develop and deploy clean energy technology.

Last year in Cancun, Mexico, delegates produced an agreement that set up a fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change, created mechanisms for the transfer of clean energy technology, provided compensation for the preservation of tropical forests, and enshrined the emissions reductions promises that came out of the Copenhagen meeting.

The students will blog about about their experiences in Durban.

The conference ends Dec. 11.