I still remember visiting the United Nations building a few years ago. Only seeing the empty conference rooms amazed me so much, and I thought it was so surreal because I have only seen them on TV before. Of course, I would have never thought of myself being able to be physically at a United Nations conference at that time. Surprisingly, I was in Copenhagen last December and I was at the UN Climate Change Conference. Even though it has already been half a year, I still feel the experience was so surreal when I look back now. I would have never imagined myself being surrounded by delegates, top scientists, medias, and youths from all around the world. The Bella Center felt just like a magnet that attracted all the important people in the world to Copenhagen. The days we spent at the conference center were so busy that we would not even find time to eat. There was so much going on in the conference center and so much to take in every minute while we were there. The rapid pace just made people forget about everything else. When I think about the experience, “amazing” would be the first word to come up in my mind, but I doubt I would use the same word to describe the result of the conference.

Before the conference, there were some parties who have already expressed their stances on the issue. European Union was willing to reduce 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions based on the 1990 emissions level; Obama strongly supported the green economy by making billions of dollars of investment on renewable energies; and China has made a voluntary reduction target of reducing energy intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 for the first time. Thus, everybody had extremely high hope for the conference and people wish there would be a meaningful agreement for the post 2012 period as the product of the conference. The goal of this conference was to solve the questions such as how much emissions the developed countries should reduce, how rapidly growing countries like China and India should control their greenhouse gas emissions, and how to fund developing countries in emissions reduction and adaptation programs. With resulting only in the Copenhagen Accord, I think the conference has somewhat let the world down.

The Copenhagen Conference was not necessarily a total failure, but it was not a complete success. First, even though the accord has set basic time and reduction framework and the developed countries agreed to reduce their emissions by 80 percent by 2050, it failed to carry out a detailed number target for each country. And even though developed countries have promised to provide developing countries with billions of dollars to help tackle the climate change issue, it did not address how the money should be allocated. Moreover, different parties, including developed and developing countries and international organizations wished the outcome of the conference could be legally binding, but it just did not happen eventually. Also, the accord did not change the goal of controlling the temperature change within 2 degrees Celsius to 1.5 degrees Celsius like many small and island countries were trying to appeal, and it did not include any specific plans, procedures, and institutions in terms of how to achieve the goal.

The conference did not completely fail simply because it could not. However, look at the bright side, this conference will guide and become the foundation of future climate change negotiations. It has set out a clear direction and recognized the areas that it needs to work on. I think all of these will be useful during the COP16 in Mexico this year. Even though Copenhagen is a place for fairy tales, I guess climate change negotiation did not have too luck to reach the ideal state.

This is the first time for me to take an interdisciplinary class and it allowed and taught me to look at things from different perspectives. The experience of this class and the trip to Copenhagen enabled me to better work with other people and to think critically. It was really sad and disheartening to learn about that people were forced to leave their homes because they were facing huge threats resulted from climate change. They were simply asking for help to keep their homeland and have a place as a home, which probably is a common commodity for people from rich countries. Seeing how grandiose and huge exhibit rooms of European Union and US were and how some countries were underrepresented made me think about the inequality and the equity issues existed during the climate change negotiations. Also at the same time, I noticed that there were so many youths there and some of them were official delegates. Active participation by the youth and the growing number of youth at the COP compared with previous years gave me hope. What I saw and learned was precious.

There is simply so much to say about this amazing experience that I probably cannot articulate myself well. I am glad that I chose to apply for the program. This is definitely the experience that I will remember for the rest of my life, and I am sure what I got out of this class will serve me well in the future. Climate change problem is the one that not only should be discussed on the international policy level, but it also must be recognized by the people on the ground. People should start taking actions simply by changing their life styles. It can be as small as taking minimum showers and recycling. It may not sound very influential, but imagine if every single person did so, how big an impact it would generate. I have been reading the news recently that thousands of miles away back on my homeland, people in south west China have been suffering from an extremely horrible drought and the land even cracked. Another city in China just got hit by a terrible earthquake that millions of people have lost their lives. The news shocked me. It was disheartening that I cannot even verbalize my feelings. Climate change did not necessarily cause these disasters, but it somewhat contributed to them.  I genuinely hope that there would soon be an international climate change treaty being established and the world could see obvious progress in the process of tackling the climate change.

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