Biniaz, who is now a visiting lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) — and who next semester will lecture at Yale Law School — is among more than 40 representatives from Yale attending the global conference.
Biniaz, the former lead climate lawyer for the U.S. State Department’s Legal Adviser’s Office, says two critical strands will emerge during COP 24. One is technical: completion of the so-called ‘Paris rulebook,’ which essentially means resolving outstanding issues in the historic Paris Agreement passed in 2015. The other, she said, is the discussion of potential commitments global leaders are prepared make — particularly in light of a dire UN climate report and the recent California summit on the role of non-state actors.
“Many countries and civil society groups will be looking to the COP to say something enthusiastic and to commit to at the very least consideration of further action,” said Biniaz, who is also a Senior Fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.
This semester, Biniaz taught two courses that prepared Yale students for the complexities of climate negotiations. Earlier this month, as part of one of the courses, she led a mock negotiation that enabled students — including many who will be in Poland — to engage in the kinds of complex discussions that are common at these summits and to utilize some of the negotiating tools commonly used by global leaders.
Specifically, she challenged them to negotiate a statement on climate commitments from G20 leaders, forcing them to find common ground among “national” teams with divergent priorities and goals.
“They did a very good job — it was inspiring,” Biniaz said. “They had interesting ideas and were able to come up with proposed compromises. I was impressed.”
For many of them, now comes exposure to the real deal. Here’s what a few F&ES students will be doing at COP 24:
“At COP 24, I will be on the delegation from Tonga, a small island developing state (SIDS) in the Pacific. Tonga is especially susceptible to climate change impacts as rising tides and changing weather patterns are already a daily fact of life. They’re particularly interested in seeing high ambition from parties to the Paris Agreement and have taken steps to set impressive climate goals domestically, even though their own emissions are negligible.
“In Poland, I will be tracking negotiations between Parties regarding transparency (e.g. what emissions information needs to be shared for international review) and ambition (e.g. how to ensure that parties continue to put their best foot forward with their climate action at home). I’ll also be focusing on the ocean-climate nexus and carbon pricing.”
“At COP 24, I will be the youngest member of the national delegation for the Republic of Rwanda. Though a low-emission country, Rwanda is highly vulnerable to climate change as it depends on rain-fed agriculture for rural livelihoods and exports. The Rwandan government is encouraging parties to ratify the Kigali Amendment, a 2015 amendment to the Montreal protocol that promotes a global phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — a group of industrial chemicals used for cooling and refrigeration and a powerful greenhouse gas — and to ‘forge transparent technology and financing mechanisms for climate change.’ My role will be to support the delegation by providing additional support during the negotiations and achieving Rwanda’s long-term goal of boosting capacity building.
“I am particularly looking forward to seeing more developing countries ratify the Kigali Amendment, and to seeing a clear framework and a roadmap on how developed countries will provide finance and technology to developing countries to assist in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.”
“My research and professional efforts are focused on helping to mobilize the necissary capital to help deploy climate solutions commensurate with the scale and pace of the problem. There is roughly a $1 trillion per year financing gap between what is currently flowing to clean energy and energy efficiency, and what is needed to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement (to stay well below 2 degrees C warming). Closing this gap and moving toward a low-greenhouse gas emissions economy is a critical imperative from an economic, ethical, and environmental perspective.
“I am hopeful that we can land the guidelines and methodologies that will allow for the more rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement, known as the ‘Paris Rulebook.’ The certainty that agreeing to this rulebook will bring to the international process will be helpful in encouraging countries, subnational and non-state actors to further enhance the ambition of their climate targets, and spur more aggressive climate action. Simultaneously, I’m hopeful that by sharing our new approach to financing clean energy and climate solution projects we can help make good connections and accelerate the human response to anthropogenic climate change.”
“In addition to this, my participation at the COP will be vital to engaging with International organizations and partners on a current regreening initiative for Northern Nigeria that I have been working on through the EverGreening Global Alliance. I am looking forward to successful adoption of innovative ideas to increase climate action in my region.”