Research at COP23

COP23 marks the 10th year of our engagement in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

As an observer to the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties since 2007, the PCCRC has sent a delegation to the international climate negotiations with the overarching goal of better understanding the challenges and opportunities presented in the global negotiation process. Over the years, members of our delegation have participated in side events, served as scientific experts to negotiators, and conducted new research. This year, a team of 5 Purdue researchers will join thousands of others for the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) taking place from 6 to 17 November at the World Conference Centre in Bonn, Germany, the seat of the Climate Change Secretariat. The Conference will be convened under the Presidency of Fiji.

The Paris Agreement, a treaty developed under the UNFCCC at COP21, establishes an international framework to strengthen the global response to climate change. The Agreement establishes an ambitious goal of limiting global warming to under 2oC. To meet this goal, rather than impose country-specific emissions targets, the Paris Agreement instead depends on voluntary mitigation contributions, allowing countries to set their own mitigation goals. With the focus on voluntary, nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the Agreement depends on mechanisms to assess whether collective mitigation action is on track to meet the global temperature goals of the Agreement. Much work remains to be done to design how to evaluate the implementation of the Agreement, and Purdue professor Manjana Milkoreit has a new research project underway exploring one of these potential assessment mechanisms—the Global Stocktake.

How to Design the Global Stocktake? Making or Breaking the International Climate Regime

Milkoreit and graduate student Kate Haapala are attending COP23 to conduct interviews for Milkoreit’s project entitled, "How to Design the Global Stocktake? Making or Breaking the International Climate Regime." The project’s goal is to develop a framework for assessing forthcoming design proposals for the Global Stocktake with a view to effectiveness, and establishing strong science-policy interactions. If you are engaged in the climate negotiations and would like to provide input into the design criteria for the Global Stocktake, please take part in our mini online survey, and/or contact Dr. Milkoreit for more information ( The project is supported by Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts.

Survey link:

Serious Games for Serious Decisions

In a related project, Milkoreit and colleagues from Purdue, Utrecht University, and Glasgow Caledonian University, are conducting research to develop a game-based science-diplomacy engagement process that will support delegates by providing timely decision information on two connected issues: climate tipping points and global temperature goals (e.g., Paris Agreement’s 2oC.) At COP23, the research team will gauge negotiation parties’ information and learning needs, which will inform the game design process over the next year. Joining Milkoreit in Bonn for this work is Purdue professor Jason Reed and graduate student Roberta Weiner. If you are engaged in the climate negotiations and would like to contribute your ideas to this project, please take part in our mini online survey on tipping points and global temperature goals. This project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation under its Global Grand Challenges Initiative.

Survey link:

Project link:

NGO Collaboration at Intergovernmental Organizations

Graduate student Bi Zhao will also be attending COP23 to better understand collaboration among the international NGOs in attendance, particularly those involved with gender climate justice. More specifically, she will examine how existing network structures and inter-organizational relationships affect the collaborative behavior of NGOs, and why NGOs faced with the same political opportunities may react differently in terms of their collaborative choices.

Meet our delegation

Manjana Milkoreit is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Purdue University and a PCCRC affiliate. Her research integrates international relations scholarship and cognitive theory to study motivations and policy design in global climate change politics and diplomacy. She is interested in governance challenges at the science-policy and science-society interfaces that impact the search for and implementation of sustainable solutions to climate change. Two major topics dominate her current research agenda: the challenges of future thinking (scientifically informed imagination) in climate change policy and decision-making, and the design of effective review mechanisms under the Paris Agreement.

Jason Reed is an assistant professor of Library Science. His overall research program focuses on information literacy and how information is used in the decision making process. His interests include evidence-based decision making and the role of gaming to engage audiences with information—either as a presentation medium and/or as a way to have them leverage what they know to simulate a real world decision making situation. At COP23, Reed’s first time attending the Conference of the Parties, he hopes to gain a better understanding of how the global negotiation process works; and, more specifically, what is the role that scientific information plays in the talks. He will be interviewing negotiators about their understanding of climate tipping points and how those relate to the temperature goals that were established in the Paris Agreement.

Bi Zhao is a 6th year PhD student in the Department of Political Science. Bi will participate in gender-related climate justice meetings at COP23 to understand if collaboration among NGOs can affect political outcomes. Throughout the meeting she will be interviewing practitioners from leading organizations in gender climate justice and participating in side events in the Bonn Zone related to climate justice, indigenous peoples and climate change.

Kate Haapala is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Political Science. During COP23, Kate will be working with Dr. Milkoreit on a project that aims to inform the design of the Global Stocktake (Article 14 of the Paris Agreement), with a special focus on the role that science and scientists play in shaping global governance. Kate will be speaking with negotiators and scientific experts to gather their input on the design of an effective review mechanism.

Roberta Weiner is a 1st year Master’s student in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. Roberta will be assessing climate negotiators’ attitudes and knowledge about climate tipping points at COP23 as part of Dr. Milkoreit’s Serious Games for Serious Decisions team.


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP23

About the Global Stocktake

Designing the Global Stocktake: A Global Governance Innovation (via Center for Climate and Energy Solutions)

INSIDER: Designing the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement – The Catalyst for Climate Action (via World Resources Institute)

Discussion Brief: Maximizing the potential of the Paris Agreement – Effective review in a hybrid regime (via Stockholm Environment Institute)

About Climate Tipping Points

Climate Transitions, Tipping Points, and the Point of No Return, see box 3.1 (via National Academies Press book Understanding Earth’s Deep Past)

Climate tipping points: What do they mean for society? (via Science Daily, July 2016)

6 climate tipping points: How worried should we be? (via Environmental Defense Fund)

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