This weekend, Queen’s students are learning more about the compromises and backroom negotiations behind the global fight against climate change.
Feb. 6, 7 and 8 will mark the first Queen’s Interactive Crisis Simulation (QICSim), hosted by the Queen’s International Affairs Association (QIAA).
The event will simulate a simplified version of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Copenhagen in December, where the successor to the Kyoto Protocol treaty is expected to be adopted.
QICSim Director Paul Hershaw, ArtSci ’09, said he came up with the idea for the conference after attending the Princeton Interactive Crisis Simulation, an international relations crisis simulation conference held at Princeton University.
Hershaw said this Queen’s event will include about 30 delegates in addition to a staff of 15.
Delegates will be divided into teams of three or four, each representing the cabinet of Germany, Canada, Russia, the U.S., China, Brazil, Tanzania and Sudan.
The delegates’ main task will be to debate domestic and foreign policy.
“We’re debating what are the policy measures that will most fairly solve the problem of climate change,” Hershaw said, giving carbon tariffs as an example of a proposal. He said teams will spend much of the weekend working individually on their own policy goals, and any negotiations that occur will be ad hoc and initiated by the teams themselves.
“It’s not really a debate; it’s a crisis simulation,” he said. “They can choose to interact with other countries in the world through diplomatic avenues, i.e. round table debates, or through direct policy actions.”
Hershaw said his main goal in organizing QICSim is to increase awareness of the Copenhagen negotiations, adding that climate change talks receive little attention from the media and academia.
“I just don’t think people really know enough about it, and it’s a shame,” he said. “The ramifications of these failing are so much worse than if the [World Trade Organization] fails.”
Hershaw said that, because climate change is a global problem, an international governing body with effective enforcement mechanisms is needed to oversee climate change reduction.
“Because of the nature of greenhouse gases as a pollutant, it doesn’t matter if you emit it in Canada or in China—the damage to the world will be the same.”
Hershaw said many scientists believe dramatic action on climate change is needed within the next 10 years to avoid tipping points after which environmental damage would be catastrophic, citing decreased crop production caused by rising temperatures as a catalyst which could lead to mass migration and international conflict.
“QICSim will alter the space-time continuum in order to bring expected future damages of current threats to the forefront of the debate. For example, climate change is expected to change precipitation patterns. Specifically, dry areas will become drier due to increased evaporation, and wet areas wetter due to increased precipitation,” Hershaw said, adding that one possible scenario could involve a severe drought in the southwestern United States, which would reduce water levels of the Columbia River and eventually lead to inhospitable conditions for agricultural activity in Mexico’s Mexicali region.
Hershaw said he wants Queen’s students to take a leadership role on fighting climate change.
“It would be very nice to see the Queen’s campus take the lead on this issue,” he said. “Raising awareness makes a world of difference.
“Everybody on campus should know what Copenhagen is by 2009.”
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