Manchester Met students act as key players in mock COP26 climate change summit

  • Students replicate 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties
  • Participants take part in difficult and contested discussions
  • Main event in Glasgow will bring together leaders of around 200 countries

A Man Met Mock COP26 event gave students the opportunity to play the roles of members of the government, global activists and economists.

The conference, which took place on 20 October, was designed to engage students in discussions and challenge ideas based climate change issues.

At Wednesday’s summit student participants represented countries including the UK, Ethiopia and the USA.

Others represented organisations including Shell, and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), an intergovernmental group of coastal and small island countries.

The aim of the event was to mimic the experience of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Glasgow will host the 26th conference running from 31 October to 12 November. COP26 will be attended by around 20,000 diplomats, leaders and activists.

The goal is to agree a plan to cut fossil fuel emissions by 2030 and prevent average global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Prior to Mock COP26 students were sent briefs to guide them in their roles as country or organisation representatives.

The Mock COP26 summit began with Professor Liz Price welcoming students to the session.

Liz, who will be attending the real COP26 in Glasgow next week, said: “What we are doing today is trying to replicate the real experience of COP by experiencing lots of different view points.”

Mock COP26 organiser Matthew Carney relayed vital statistics relating to climate change and advised each group to prepare opening statments outlining their background and main goals.

Participants explored topics such as nature conservation, greenwashing and refugees.

George Walden, acting as the US delegate, spoke to NQ about his role and how negotiating with other countries and organisation reps had been.

He said: “You argue different points. 

“The US obviously has come through a change with the Trump administration before and now the Biden administration having different view points on what they want to do with the economy, so I’ve chatted with other people on how to go about that.”

Later in the day contributors were asked to vote on seven themed climate resolutions.

The event was supported by members of the UN World Food Programme who helped provide context and took part in reflection on the final vote outcomes.

Matthew spoke to NQ after the summit. He said: “We threw up some really interesting results. The most shocking one I think for a lot of people was the teams had voted to not really support climate refugees, though they commited to reduce emissions.

“I thought that was really interesting and speaking to World Food Programme about that it does often reflect the real world side of things.

“People will say they will commit to climate goals, but when it comes to money and people impact they don’t really want to commit to that.”

Many participants took time to discuss the expirience and what their roles in the Mock COP26 day had taught them.

Elenor Broome, representative for Ethiopia, found the negotiation process enlightening.

“One thing with the negotiations, there is a massive conflict of interest between industrialised countries and developing countries and it made it hard to compromise on more difficult issues,” she said.

MMU delegation prepares for COP26 from Northern Quota on Vimeo.

Man Met student Eva Boyle reflected on the mock event, saying it was “a really good experience to consider COP26″.

“When their company is based completely around fossil fuels it’s interesting to think about how they are going to progress in the future.” she said,

With the real COP26 taking place in a matter of days the agenda has been outlined. It is believed much of the focus will be on issues such as switching to electric vehicles, protecting ecosystems and encouraging investment in renewable energies.