Royal Dutch Shell took their seats in the centre of the room. As a global powerhouse for the private energy sector not afraid to wield their lobbying muscle, many eyes were trained on them below eyebrows of cynicism that made clear how the company’s position at the high table of one equal vote was seen.
|Players in the Climate Change Negotiations event|
|Groups set out their position on the five resolutions|
Next up was Ethiopia, and Shell’s toughest negotiating partner of the afternoon, with both sides reluctant to give too much away too soon. Propositions went back and forth with constant consultations between the two negotiation teams. Eventually, as the time of the session came near to an end, a voting deal was done with a handshake. Shell had done well; a trade on keeping the Arctic open for what was a compromising, but not disagreeable, vote from Shell on the protection of climate refugees.
|Ethiopia: Shell's toughest negotiator!|
And the final three minutes meant free-roaming negotiations and last-minute deals. The room was buzzing as now was the time to shore up some multilateral bloc voting agreements in a final attempt to get favourable resolutions passed in the final vote. Shell, the corporate power house, reached quick backroom agreements with political and economic powers the USA, Russia and China, in a final attempt to ensure that the logic of the market and the multiplier effect would prevail for the benefit of all, even if they wouldn’t see it.
Following a break for lunch it was time for to vote; five resolutions to determine a global strategy for how the world’s resources, environment and the people affected by it, would be managed for years to come. The negotiating teams waited and voted patiently, assessing the room with each show of hands to see how the vote was going whilst justifying their various positions.
|Voting on the five resolutions|
The resolutions passed by this group of students have resulted in a climate change agreement that sees: all countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050; a global fund of $100 billion for at risk countries by 2025; the protection of all climate refugees; the protection of the forests under a REDD-style scheme; and the end of exploration of the Arctic for fossil fuel supplies. On final reflection it was a great day; an exercise in critical, lateral and creative thinking, in empathy, in dirty dealing, strategising to maximise interests, in bargaining and compromise. Shell had not seen a single one of their preferred positions on the resolutions passed; the best they took away was a second preference on one resolution.
That wasn’t evidence of a lack of skill on the part of Shell’s negotiators but, above all, about bringing some hope and solidarity to the table. This hope was secretly shared by the Shell delegates as they thought about the future of the environment and their role as part of the global powers responsible.
|Backwell School students pose with Sir Winston Churchill, former Chancellor of the University of Bristol|
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