“If you choose a job you love, you will never have to work another day in your life” – Confucius.
Sitting behind my desk at the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) in Washington D.C. as an International Policy Associate Intern I realized that being part of this institution, known for producing transformative, finance-ready climate mitigation solutions with far-reaching impact, is an opportunity I wouldn’t have missed. This is especially true because CCAP supports ground-breaking climate, air and energy solutions that balance countries’ unique environment and economic development interests in a region of personal and professional interest to me—Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
Since my last post I completed work on Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) analysis in preparation for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) and learned about the importance of teamwork and proper communication in conducting evaluations of country projects which CCAP supports.
The Paris Effect
My tenure at CCAP could not have happened at a more meaningful time, as the organization and the rest of the global community was preparing for the major climate Conference in Paris (COP21). Countries were putting forward their INDCs – how they plan to do their part in addressing climate change, and CCAP quickly realized that after Paris, Parties will need to focus on how to effectively operationalize these efforts, converting those INDCs into finance-ready policies, programs, and measures.
One of my first tasks at CCAP was to analyze the contributions of the top fifty emitters. As a result of this work, I became the something of an “INDC Guru,” with a base of knowledge that allowed me to advise colleagues on which contributions stand out, what trends there were among the contributions, and how the INDCs of our closest partner countries compared to others. This research and analysis allowed me to utilize some of the quantitative and qualitative skills developed at Bard CEP to conduct relevant analysis and provide research support on the many INDCs being submitted.
This analysis was then developed into a discussion paper “Converting INDCs into Action.” This paper, which focused on the Non-Annex I countries that populated the initial list of 50, notes that 35 out of 39 of the highest emitting developing countries indicate that they need financial support to achieve higher reductions than they can achieve on their own. Most developing countries communicate dual targets in their INDCs – a target they can reach unilaterally, and one that they can achieve given conditional on international support, and it is their conditional target which would lead to the highest level of emission reduction. CCAP presented initial thoughts on undertaking this type of conversion at the inter-sessional UN climate meetings and the 2015 Paris COP, and the discussion paper has been well received by many Parties.
CCAPs flagship program, the Mitigation Action Implementation Network (MAIN), provides support to developing countries in Asia and Latin America in designing and implementing Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). As part of this program, CCAP prepared a report to assess countries’ progress towards achieving climate goals and implementing emissions reduction policies between 2013 and 2015 in the 14 MAIN countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Malaysia Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam.
A diverse in-house team comprised of an American polyglot, a trilingual French Canadian and me, a bilingual Trinidadian, was responsible for updating, researching, analyzing, and reporting on the level of impact that the project had had in these countries. The execution of this evaluation process required a heavy commitment to meet the December 2015 deadline, and we had to work flexibly and creatively in the midst of the challenge posed by the focus on COP21, both within the organization and among partner country contacts.
Despite the challenges that I expected us to encounter I found solace in the fact that my CSP classes, comprised of four culturally diverse students, helped me understand not only what it felt like to work in small teams but also the importance of proper communication, especially when working with team members from different educational, language, and writing backgrounds. Despite the challenges, we were able to deliver a final product that was well reviewed by senior staff.
Looking Back and Moving Forward
As I continue to reflect on my internship experience at CCAP, I realize that CCAP has helped to not only reinforce some of the main skills developed at Bard but that it has also helped to increase my passion for improving the Latin America and the Caribbean region. I am thankful that my internship afforded me the opportunity to provide technical backstopping on projects which required the use of skills acquired during my graduate classes, especially on pioneering projects like INDC conversion which is set to be the focus of international discussions until 2030.
Finally, I am thankful for the experience because it has also enabled me to understand the level of time and detail that is required for proposal development, project evaluation and grant reporting. The skills acquired during these processes will be essential during the final phases of my Master’s degree program this spring.
This blog post is a discussion of the author’s personal experience as an intern, and any opinions or conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Clean Air Policy.