A little more conversation, a little more preparation

Friday 6 November 2009

Amidst the hustle and bustle of stuvac, the ANU Climate Change Science and Policy Field School took time out to spend a day at a preparation workshop for Copenhagen.

I arrived slightly apprehensive as I had only ever taken one other ENVS subject at the Fenner School – Climate Change Science and Policy – whereas most of the other people taking this course were Environmental Science or Interdisciplinary Studies students. However, my apprehension was unfounded when I remembered this is a particularly friendly faculty!

Janette gave us a brief overview of housekeeping and logistics in Copenhagen. She also introduced Kiri and Shannon as our tutors for the course. We then brainstormed themes for our research papers. We went around the room and everyone mentioned one or two topics they were interested in researching at the Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen. Never would I have imagined we would have come up with so many diverse topics! There were topics ranging from human health to Business and Industry NGOs and everything in between! We then all tried to collaboratively figure out rough “groupings” of the topics so each of us would have two or three other people to support us at the conference – we could go to side events together, organise interviews together and discuss broader themes within our groups.

Initially, I was interested in tracking the “Big 2” – the US and China. My second idea was to research the role of NGOs at the conference. After seeing the six or so groupings, I decided I would rather go with the NGO idea. This was for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was overwhelmed by the whole concept of this course and thought tracking the US and China would be even more overwhelming! Secondly, I wanted to pick a topic which made the most of the opportunity of being at the conference. I figured I could research the role of US and China in climate change negotiations from Australia. Furthermore, as an Asian Studies major, I am already interested in China. I thought this would be a good opportunity to make the most of a field school environment and learn something completely new. Finally, there wasn’t really a group tracking the major players however the NGO group was the biggest one with around eight students to begin with.

After splitting up into our various groups, the big NGO group split into two again. One group was broad examining activism, inside versus outside the conference, Business, Industry and other NGOs. I was in the other group which was focused more on big, global NGOs like Greenpeace and WWF. I was with Alexis, Michelle and Phoebe. We all seemed to get along very well and had some lively discussion. Phoebe spoke briefly about the youth movement with the NGOs and the particular power they are perceived to hold because of the principle of intergenerational equity. I thought this was an interesting thesis.

It was very difficult just picking one topic! There were so many topics and groups I would have loved to have been a part of including human security and climate justice.

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