What do we do Post-COP 28?: Dissemination and Climate Literacy

by Tristan Durocher ’25

We are now two days removed from COP 28, an exhausting summit extending an extra two days past the prescribed 12 days planned. Being on the other side, I’ve now had time to process, reflect, and understand that the responsibility of being a COP attendee doesn’t end when the plenary is over and the metaphorical gavel is struck for the last time in Dubai. The responsibility really can’t fade because, as observers—whether we choose to attend another COP or not—we are forever left with the knowledge of the complex processes that go on and the actual depth of a global conference. So, what do we do with this responsibility? What did I do? What do I plan to do?

I planned to contact my old high school, Brimmer and May, to see if they might want me to do a presentation on COP, and then create an Instagram account for those at home in Boston and back at Colorado College to follow along and ask questions.

After reconnecting in early fall of 2023 with a one-time advisor and science teacher (Cecilia Pan) who I knew ran the AP Environmental Sciences program, we agreed that I would do a short Zoom call with Global Studies Diploma students (as an alumnus of this program) as well as those interested in climate change and international relations. So, on December 14th at 9:00 pm Dubai time and noon Eastern time, the call was scheduled.

Knowing this, I made an extra effort to take in as much information as possible at the COP, fleshing out my knowledge of how negotiations functioned and the nitty gritty details that had to do with UN bodies and constituencies. I asked myself all the questions a high school student would want to know: What is consensus? Who holds these countries accountable? Who is actually at the COP other than nations? When the presentation day finally rolled around, I felt prepared; I had created a short slide deck with some fun photos and written down everything I knew about the COP, making a document about three pages long, bullet-pointing out every process I understood.

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Tristan Durocher ’25 presenting to Brimmer and May AP Environmental Science students on COP 28

Just like that, the presentation was over. I had bounced from subject to subject, trying to create the most precise picture I could of what I had experienced, secretly hoping that I would inspire at least one person in the room to follow in my footsteps. What I found was that, though some students had thought-provoking questions that I had even asked myself during COP, such as how we hold countries accountable for their promises and how ambiguous language makes it into formal documents in the first place, what was most rewarding were the questions my former teachers had.

In those moments, it felt as though I could see how the teachers themselves took the role of students — of climate change — in the same way that I am a student of that subject. It wasn’t me becoming their teacher, though; instead, I was able to work through complex questions with educators who wanted to simply know how they could better prepare their students to talk about climate change. It was gratifying to feel as though the work I had done at COP would help to inform later generations on how to approach the issue, how to learn from it, and how to decipher the complex nature of a global event on this scale. I may not have done groundbreaking study work or made profound conclusions on the progress or lack of progress we made at COP. I was able to share, though, how I stay present with the issue, paint a picture of my journey that led me to consider climate change, and encourage that, although it is a monumental task, we can genuinely attack it from any angle. In that, I want to thank Brimmer and May for giving me the platform to disseminate the information I took from the COP and allowing me to practice my presentation skills! I hope I can inspire another group of students from my alma mater to take this work with them into higher education to create more interdisciplinary thought around the issue.