Douglas Fischer/Daily Climate

#ClimateClass: Reports and reflections from the Bonn climate talks.

What happens when you pull 11 students out of Montana and toss them into the middle of the UN climate negotiations? Change.

#ClimateClass: Reports and reflections from the Bonn climate talks.


BONN—As climate reporters and pundits speculate on what President Trump will do about the Paris agreement, here in Germany negotiations plow ahead—and a group of undergraduates from Montana roamed the halls, networked, and got a firsthand look at how the sausage is made.

I'm one of the instructors. We spent the semester learning about climate science and policy: Where do they intersect, and why do they seem to move in opposite directions. After the semester ended, we flew to Germany to participate in the UN talks. After a week spent observing semi-frozen politics, we'll fly to Iceland to look at something that's really moving: The country's melting glaciers.

These mid-year climate talks are formal, arcane and tedious: They're meant only to set the agenda for the larger, higher-stakes talks in the fall—and to assess nations' willingness for more ambition and commitment. I knew these students would be lost. I certainly was on my first visit, in 2009 in Copenhagen.

A different view

But I also hoped they would see the vast diaspora of ideas and perspectives gathered here at the United Nations. That they would realize international diplomacy is difficult. That they would more clearly see the complexities of getting 200 nations heading the same direction on the path toward a sustainable future.

I get it: I struggle to get four roommates on the same page about the dishes

– Laura Ippolito, Montana State

"I get it: I struggle to get four roommates on the same page about the dishes," writes Laura Ippolito, sophomore at Montana State University. "But I have seen, in just three short days, something incredible."

That's the magic that often gets lost amid the headlines and the daily stresses. Ippolito and fellow students—and my two fellow professors—had a front row seat all week. At 11 students and three professors, the Montana State crew came one delegate short of matching the biggest delegation at the talks, the U.S. negotiating team.

We asked everyone to capture their impressions for our class blog. We've edited and reprinted a few essays here, with more to come over the next few days.

Measuring optimism, emissions and people, by Lucas Thorsness

Inside job, by Tony Hartshorn

Bonn voyage! By Laura Ippolito

Here we are now, entertain us, by Scott Powell

EHS director Douglas Fischer is in Bonn for the first week of the intersessional talks underway May 8 through 18. Follow him on Twitter @cptnclmt.

The Daily Climate is an independent, foundation-funded news service covering energy, the environment and climate change. Find us on Twitter @TheDailyClimate or email editor Brian Bienkowski at bbienkowski [at] EHN.org

Photos - Douglas Fischer/Daily Climate.

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