In The Field

Climate war game: Game concludes with a limited agreement

10:15 a.m.

The game ends. Delegates worked out compromises on the emissions targets, with regard to both India and China, and then spent another 45 minutes poring over the rest of the agreement. What’s remarkable is how fast a role-playing “game” turned into a seemingly interminable political and bureaucratic exercise. Notes were passed, objections were raised. No word was too small to dispute.

But United Nations Secretary General John Podesta finally rang the bell, acknowledging that a number of issues – including his own proposal to create a major new international fund for clean technology – were left on the table.

Significantly, the game ended without a binding agreement on emissions reductions. The United States and Europe committed to a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2025, and all of the parties agreed to shoot for the same targets at a global level. But China, while endorsing the idea of numeric targets, did not actually agree to any specifics. India walked away with specific targets, but with some contingencies as well. And even these concessions might not have been possible without a substantial cash infusion from the West.

On migration, the countries agreed on the need to recognize climate refugees as such, while stressing that they must be distinguished from people who are displaced by other natural disasters, such as earthquakes. “Non-coercive repatriation” to the country of origin should be the preference, and international assistance should be forthcoming to smooth this process.

The draft agreement broadly supports new agricultural programs and regional partnerships for managing water resources, although there is little in the way of specifics. It would also create a new “International Disaster Relief Organization” to help coordinate emergency operations around the globe.

The complete agreement will be posted on the CNAS website.

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