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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change, Key COP17 Issues, Mosaic Action » “Naivety breeds cooperation.”

“Naivety breeds cooperation.”

Last Thursday night the entire Mosaic class (all upperclassmen) and a First-year seminar had the names of countries assigned to them and were put in a room for three hours and told to solve the problem of Global Climate Change. I can’t decide if it was harder or easier than I thought it would be.

Final Plan Accomplishments (Gray - BAU*)

On one hand, it was a lot more difficult to solve the problem than I expected. At first everyone seemed eager to cooperate. As the night went on, however, people started to get protective of their designated country groups (Developed, Rapidly Developing, and Developing). As part of the Rapidly Developing Group (as India) I thought that it would be relatively easy to negotiate with the “Developed countries” if we just told them we would do what we could if they helped us monetarily, and we would agree to lower our emissions if they agreed to lower a significant amount, since they were in the best position to. It seemed rational to me, but then we got in a huge dispute over the fact that they didn’t think they could be expected to give us lots of money as well as lower their emissions. This argument never really got solved (we ran out of time). I thought I was going in with an eagerness to cooperate, and it surprised me how fast I got defensive over something that really meant nothing to me past 9:00pm that night.

On the other hand, I was surprised at how a bunch of college kids could come up with (almost) a solution to Climate Change. With our actions the model told us we could bring the ppm of CO2 down to 590, a huge improvement over what the world is currently looking at. If we can do it, why can’t they? But there was one huge difference between us and the real UN, we don’t really represent those countries. The phrase “naivety breeds cooperation” was used in our recap of the event. I think it is true. It was hard for me, and I’m sure others, to stick with the ideals that I knew India held. I found myself giving in to things that I knew I never would have were I the true representative. Because of this we were able to cooperate and make the moves we knew were necessary to stop global warming, because that, really, was our goal. In reality the goals of the parties are more domestic than international.

We all got a taste of what a UN meeting might look like that night through the innate competitive tension we experienced. Our version, however, lacked the historical tensions, political tensions, personal tensions, and rather, reality, that shapes the true UN meetings. Without this reality we were able to cooperate out of naivety, but that isn’t a true representation of how things actually play out. And if we naive college kids can only bring the CO2 concentration down to 590 ppm, how is the real world going to get it down to 350 ppm?

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4 Responses to "“Naivety breeds cooperation.”"

  1. mrees says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this simulation last week. It was a new and interesting way to look at climate negotiations, while having some fun. I too was in the Rapidly Developing Countries category, representing South Africa; I am in complete agreement with you, Emily. I thought our negotiations for receiving funding for sustainable development seemed rational, and I was surprised when negotiations went less smoothly.
    It would be interesting to see how negotiations would go with more information (i.e. financial status, development plans, etc.). With as little as we knew about our respective countries, I think with more information, a more heated debate and negotiation would occur.

  2. Timothy Damon says:

    You are very correct, Emily. The blocs are far more heterogeneous than our “naivety” caused them to behave. For example: I don’t know how well you were getting along with China over at your “Rapidly Developing” table, but in reality India and China are having some serious issues. Aggressive Chinese expansionism has India feeling very vulnerable. I’m not exactly sure how those security concerns pay out in terms of climate negotiations, but I would expect them to distrust each other a bit and to undertake GHG reductions only if they believed it would not disadvantage their economies relative to the other one.

    And I completely agree, Maggie. Being able to get “into character” better (like the tensions I mentioned above) would likely has produced more heated negotiations. Yet, I also think having more economic and demographic information available for the three blocs would have put different proposals into a better context and facilitated reaching an agreement. It would have added some more facts to the debate about what percentages were “fair”.

  3. Timothy Damon says:

    Also, to give an example from the “Developed” bloc I was in: the United States and European Union also have very different perspectives. The EU has already been taking climate change relatively seriously, while America still can’t even seem to agree that climate change is real. Our US representative was very cooperative with the rest of our bloc, but in the real world I highly doubt that would be the case.

  4. babsone says:

    I really liked your phrase of “naivety breeds cooperation” Emily! I really believe that was a key issue with our simulation(or maybe not an issue in terms of coming to a consensus, since it actually helped us all to agree!) So I also agree with Maggie and Tim that being able to get “into character” definitely would have produced much more heated arguments.

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