Yale student delegation to participate in U.N. climate change conference

Yale has sent a student delegation to a U.N. climate change conference in Doha, Qatar, to participate in negotiations for an international climate treaty.

 The students will represent small island states in their negotiations for a treaty, lobby, blog and immerse themselves in the details of bureaucratic give-and-take. The conference, which bwill run until Dec. 7, will also feature the introduction of a mobile application designed by doctoral student Angel Hsu that will allow participants to provide instant feedback to negotiators.

The Doha summit, dubbed COP 18, comes on the heels of a climate conference last year in Durban, South Africa, that launched a new round of negotiations to create a legally binding international agreement limiting a global average temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The Yale students will research, track and write briefs on important issues for negotiating teams, and analyze and defend the positions of the countries they represent during negotiations. They were prepared for the Doha summit in courses, such as Roy Lee’s “Environmental Diplomacy Practicum” and Gordon Geballe’s “International Organizations and Conferences,” as well as by their work with the Yale Climate and Energy Institute, Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and Yale Law School’s Environmental Protection Clinic.

In addition, Eva Garen, director of the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI), Alicia Calle, leadership program coordinator, and Hazel Consunji, the Asia training program assistant, will present an exhibition at Forest Day, showcasing ELTI’s publications, and participate in a discussion on “Forest Landscape Restoration: Enhancing More than Carbon Stocks in all Types of Forests.”  

Garen said deforestation rates in Southeast Asia and Latin America are often driven by extractive industries, such as oil palm production and cattle ranching. Efforts to integrate conservation and restoration in productive landscapes, she said, are needed to re-establish environmental services from forest ecosystems and provide for sustainable rural livelihoods.

Hsu’s mobile application for smart phones, called DecisionMakr, will allow Twitter users to give real-time feedback to decision-makers on the quality of their proposals and statements made at Doha.

Her application won an AT&T-sponsored “Hackathon” out of 25 teams and 120 developers at a Social Good Summit in New York City in September. A team of engineers and developers at Parvieda Solutions in New York City made the mobile application for Hsu.

“I learned from previous experience the value of using social media to understand what is happening at huge and hectic conferences,” she said.

The DecisionMakr app allows users to ranks speakers based on a five-star rating system, which is displayed on a leaderboard.

“At the end of an event, you can clearly see which decisions were most influential and effective,” she said. “The app is a lot of fun and a good way to become more engaged.”

At COP 18, negotiators will work on the design of a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and set the parameters for the negotiations leading to a new international agreement in 2015.

Jose Medina Mora, a candidate for a master’s degree in environmental management (MEM), will represent Mexico as a member of its delegation and the Yale Climate and Energy Institute. He plans to collect data for a paper analyzing how developing countries learn from policies that developed countries have enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The work with the Mexican delegation ties together with my MEM project,” he said.


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Media Contact

Dave DeFusco: david.defusco@yale.edu, 203-436-4842