UN Climate Negotiations: Why is a Deal so Elusive?


Instructors: John FurlowMelody Braun and Elisabeth Nebie, International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Schedule: (VIRTUAL) November 2020, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00pm - 8:00pm ET

  1. Tuesday, November 3 (U.S. Election Day)
  2. Thursday, November 5
  3. Tuesday, November 10
  4. Thursday, November 12
  5. Tuesday, November 17
  6. Thursday, November 19
  7. Tuesday, November 24 (3 hour session 6:00pm- 9:00pm)

Price: $1,199.99 


The impacts of a changing climate are already affecting communities and economies across the planet. Scientists warn about irreversible catastrophic impacts if action is not taken to rapidly reduce carbon emissions. Given the magnitude of the challenge, urgent collective action is necessary.

Since 1992, the climate negotiations facilitated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been the world’s approach to planning and coordinating these actions. Through the “UN Climate Negotiations” workshop, participants will have a unique opportunity to learn about the history and purpose of the UNFCCC, the major alliances and interest groups, and the process for making progress. The workshop will be led by experts at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society who have participated first-hand in multiple negotiations, and will also feature guests offering different perspectives on what is needed to secure a climate deal and why an agreement has eluded negotiators for 26 years.

The UNFCCC is a treaty signed by almost all countries committing them to take action to reduce emissions and adapt to the consequences of the changes. Decisions from the UNFCCC have the potential to reshape the global economy and environment, but how does this process work? If the science is clear, why is agreement so difficult? What has it achieved so far? Is it sufficient?

Workshop participants will learn about and discuss major topics debated at key negotiation sessions, landmark negotiations (e.g. Kyoto, Copenhagen, and Paris) and their impacts, and what has succeeded and failed at these negotiations. By the end of this workshop, participants will have a strong understanding of the importance of global climate negotiations and will be able to analyze how possible climate deals could affect their own personal or professional interests. 

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand what the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is and what it is meant to do
  • Learn how different negotiating “agenda items” or topics could affect societies and economies in different countries
  • Analyze the potential impacts of negotiated outcomes on different sectors (i.e. business, energy, agriculture) while considering the various perspectives of developed and developing country actors during the negotiation process