Peek behind the curtain at Climate Policy Camp

climate policy camp

Attendees of CCL’s 2018 Climate Policy Camp

Peek behind the curtain at Climate Policy Camp

By Flannery Winchester

Each year in the days before CCL’s International Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., climate policy wonks of all ages flock to CCL’s Climate Policy Camp. The camp is a chance to learn directly from the experts about the technical aspects of greenhouse gas mitigation policy, including how U.S. policy interacts with other regulations and policies at home and abroad.

Catherine Garton climate policy

Catherine Garton

“I chose to attend CCL’s Climate Policy Camp because I wanted to be a more knowledgeable advocate for carbon pricing,” says Catherine Garton, a University of Michigan student who attended last year’s camp. “In the process, I learned a ton—and I also realized that our cause is way more complicated than I’m used to.”

“I realized that for good legislation to pass, we need to have people campaigning for it out on-stage, as well as people behind the scenes. I had never peeked behind the curtain before,” Catherine says, but Policy Camp allowed her to do that. “We spoke with economists who understood the economic implications of our plan; lawyers who knew the boundaries and interactions of policy; professors who could speak to the inner workings of the electrical grid; international experts who could interpret how interactions play out on the world stage; and legislative analysts who know what good policy looks like, among many others.”

Led by CCL’s Governing Board chair Professor Ross Astoria, this year’s instructors include experts from the Universities of Wisconsin, Colorado, and Michigan, as well as members of the organizations IQCarbone, Resources for the Future, and Climate Leadership Council.

Camp highlights: Community and climate negotiations

Catherine says, “My favorite part about the camp was the community-driven, collaborative atmosphere. Every day, a few hours would be dedicated to ‘Open Space’ or ‘Collaborative Commons’ sessions, in which groups of students could gather to have a discussion about any topic they were interested in.”

Amy Orta-Rivera climate policy

Amy Orta-Rivera

Another highlight for many attendees was the simulated international climate negotiations. Amy Orta-Rivera, a student attendee who chose the international track during last year’s camp, explained, “During the simulation, we were going to negotiate a climate agreement that could engage every party’s interests and concerns. For example, the Bangladesh team’s (who were also representing developing countries and small island developing states) interest was to secure funding for climate adaptation projects. On the other hand, China’s interest was to reduce GHG emissions while protecting its own economy.”

Amy was a part of the Chinese delegation. “It was an amazing experience to be in a position of a negotiator,” Amy says. “This type of simulation gives you a perspective on how difficult it is to agree on a treaty when more than 190 countries have different problems, interests, projections for climate mitigation and adaptation and perspectives on how their economy should work.”

China climate policy camp

The Chinese delegation at CCL’s 2018 Climate Policy Camp

Students give their stamp of approval

At the end of the day, Amy says, “There was so much to learn, not only from the readings but also from the people that were participating. Everybody brought something important to the discussion which enriched the experience. I totally recommend this Policy Camp. If you do not understand something, there is always someone willing to help you.”  

Catherine adds, “CCL does a really good job of allowing us to use our abilities wherever we will be most effective, and for many volunteers this does not involve delving into the details. But for people who are interested in this aspect, CCL provides it in spades with this policy camp.”

This year’s Climate Policy Camp takes places June 5-7 at American University in Washington, D.C. In addition to being a great learning opportunity for anyone, students specifically may be able to take advantage of fellowships or college credit. Get all the details and register today!

Flannery Winchester
Flannery Winchester has put her words to work for magazines, for marketing agencies, and now for our earth as CCL's Communications Director. She is grateful to spend every day working to preserve this beautiful planet.
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