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Month: November 2016

COP-timist Jin

COP-timist Jin

Let’s just say that election night was a rough night. In four days, I was headed to Morocco for COP22, and the United States had just elected a person, who may or may not believe in climate change, as President. News articles following the election did not help. There were reports on President-elect Trump’s transition team of various climate change deniers, on ways in which President-elect Trump could pull out of the Paris Agreement, and on how President-elect Trump could reverse all the environmental progress done by the Obama administration. From my perspective, there were only reports of gloom-and-doom for achieving the 2ºC goal of the Paris Agreement, and so, I flew to Morocco with overcast hopes.

However, Morocco dispelled the dreariness of the media’s forecast on climate change. Beginning with the first panelist discussion I attended for the week, everyone had the same message: no one nation has the power to stop the momentum towards a cleaner, healthier environment. Large multinational companies assured the audience they were going to continue investing in renewable energy solutions and in building a low-carbon economy. To them, it would be bad for their business not to invest. Markets are already shifting toward a low-carbon economy. With climate change impacted communities in unprecedented ways, financiers now require businesses to be resilient to those changes. Other countries began implementing methods to meet their national determined contributions and are now looking for innovative solutions to meet their goals. To pull out of the Paris Agreement would be a diplomatic nightmare for the United States as other nations view climate change a core element to international cooperation. Moreover, cities and states in the United States are establishing their own climate agenda to address the impacts of climate change already affecting them.

A skeptic would find it hard to swallow all this optimism. Only those dedicated to mitigating and adapting to climate change attend COP. Neither Exxon Mobil nor Shell showed up. No representatives from North Dakota (think, Dakota Access Pipeline) or Alberta (Keystone XL) showed up either. Plus, it could all be said for PR purposes. The panelists definitely had prepared answers to tough questions. And in the tough questions they had not prepared for, they fumbled, saying vague words of assurances on how they were not worried about meeting the Paris goals.

But, in the end, nothing good comes out of being a skeptic. Hypothesizing about the worst case scenarios for climate change under the new administration does not get us closer to meeting the Paris goals. Expending energy reading about how the new administration could suffocate the EPA, reinvigorate the coal industry, or roll back on renewable subsidies may be captivating, but it provides no real solution.

At COP, people recognized these new problems that could arise with the new administration. But instead of stopping there, they immediately began addressing them. Countries with large and small economies recommitted to the Paris Agreement, and set lofty goals for themselves. Maybe, just maybe, the world needed the threat of President-elect Trump’s reversal on the United States’ climate change policy to accelerate this growing momentum toward a low-carbon economy, such that the 2ºC goal of the Paris Agreement could be met. So, I guess, you can call me a COP-timist.

Nov 11th: Last Day in Morocco

Nov 11th: Last Day in Morocco


Today was the last day; I cannot believe a week has flown by so quickly. We started the morning with our last breakfast at the Riad and off to the conference we went. The first session we sat in on was a global climate action showcase focusing on energy. Energy is a key topic–it’s a pretty new concept but it’s pivotal to our future conceptions of renewable energy. 2.9 billion people don’t have access to cook cleanly, and 1.8 billion can’t access clean energy. There needs to be a focus on a decarbonized world, drop of price in renewables, and give a larger role to women. They also emphasized public and private collaboration, which creates more effective policy.

After that, I wandered around some of the other exhibits and gathered last minute information. I also did one last walk through of all the countries pavilions to say my goodbyes. We got lunch and then headed to the Green Zone.

In the Green Zone, we walked around the different booths. One of the booths was about catching fog and turning it into clean drinkable water in hilly dry areas. They even had samples of the water to taste. We also talked with people making art out of completely recycled materials. It was a short day because we had to go back and get ready for our travels. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to the COP. Though it was sometimes tiresome, it was also incredibly interesting, and there were always people to meet, sessions to attend, and exhibits to explore.

We then walked back to the hotel, and said bye to Kate who is off to Spain. We grabbed a quick dinner and shuttled into a taxi headed for Casablanca, to spend the night before our 7am flight. Tomorrow morning, we head out bright and early back to Atlanta.

Nov 10th: My Kind of Day: Youth and Future Generations Day

Nov 10th: My Kind of Day: Youth and Future Generations Day


Today we got to the youth delegation (RINGO) bright and early! Due to this, we got tickets to attend a closed APA article 4 session: adaptation communication. We then went to a showcase event about cities and human settlements. It focused on resilience in cities and buildings but was mainly in French. Due to the lack of understanding, I left this session and wandered around the side exhibits meeting people who were interested and passionate about youth advocacy. They also happened to have free chocolate bars (obviously my favorite way of advocating for change). I met with people focused on sustainable education who were making a video and made books and curriculum for children about the importance of climate action.

Next, we went to my favorite event of the entire conference: How Engaging Youth Actions Are Integral to Implementing Climate Justice. This session was run by youth delegates and highlighted the importance of youth action. These young adults created an organization called Make It Real where they run workshops all over the world to facilitate climate dialogue and encourage innovative solutions from the future generation. At this session, we learned about the work of the organization and then we mapped out our own “climate change map” which consisted of the ways in which we became active in climate justice. We then broke off into groups based off of interests in order to network and discuss possible solutions to the areas we are passionate about. My group focused on social injustices and came up with ideas about education and technological initiatives in order to bridge the climate gender gap. I loved this session for many reasons. First off, these are people who are ready to do something. Obama once said: “We are the first generation to see the effects of climate change, and the last one to be able to do something about it.” Many sessions consist of a few monotone delegates talking at the audience. This one wanted to make climate change something everyone can be engaged in, and they showed the importance of youth advocacy, and the ability young adults have to make an impact.

After this session, we got lunch. Today there was a protest about the unequal representation of women, which I’ve talked quite a bit about in my posts. The slogan was “Why do I need a mustache to be heard?” and they passed around different paper mustaches.

Then I headed to some press conferences. The first one was Grassroots Movements to Support the Paris Agenda. It talked about the importance of having contacts with people on the ground in emergency relief situations, as well as highlighting the role of cross-sector collaboration. There was another press conference hosted by WEDO, Global Gender Climate Alliance, and the Women’s Delegates Fund. Many of the speakers I had met the day before.

Next, Emily, Jennie and I headed to the closed APA session. Truthfully, I didn’t understand much of what was happening, yet it was still a unique experience. You walk into a room with tables set up in a square with country name tags for the party’s delegates. You take a seat along the wall as an observer. The go over the policy which is projected on large PowerPoints. (Side note: someone needs to teach UN officials how to use PowerPoints! Their slides have several paragraphs and are just awful!) Then as they review the policy of Article 4 countries can ask to change or clarify sections.

After this was another press conference focusing on indigenous peoples and how climate change affects them. The speakers spoke Spanish, but there was the decent translation. We learned how tribes are adversely affected by climate change, as it changes their agricultural cycles. This can then lead to a lack of food and water when the seasons seem to be always changing, and they have trouble planting or harvesting their crops. Afterward, we interviewed the main speaker who was dressed in traditional garb. He gave an interesting response when we asked him what message he wanted to convey to the public. He said that all indigenous people are diverse and that we need to start protecting the planet because it is home to all, but some are more affected by global warming than others, and it’s important to be aware of that.

As we were leaving the conference, we ran into many indigenous people performing their cultural customs and ceremonies. It was lively and fun to see and hear all these different traditions come together.

On the walk back, we caught a beautiful sunset! We went back to the Riad and sorted out a few things for check out the next day. We got dinner at an awesome restaurant in the market area. Then we shopped around the market place which seems to light up at night, and headed back to the hotel to get some rest before the last day of our trip!!!!!

Nov 9th: Wondering What The World Has Come To…

Nov 9th: Wondering What The World Has Come To…


Disclaimer: this post is rather political.

Woke up to the devastating news about America’s newly elected president. At first, I thought it was a prank my friends had pulled on me, but when I found out the American public had really elected Donald J Trump, a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, privileged white man to be president, needless to say, I was very, very upset.

We had a quiet breakfast on the roof of the Riad as everyone tried to digest the news. We then walked over to the COP to begin day 3. We started our day off again at the RINGO meeting for the conference “Youth,” but I must admit we got there a little on the later end and didn’t get that much out of it. We sat in for a short period on a Chinese-affiliated lecture about the sustainability of bamboo forests but left to go to a US panel. The panel consisted of three main projects and speakers about sustainability initiatives in Washington DC, Santa Monica, and India, along with the health benefits these efforts would cultivate. However, the audience was told not to ask the speakers about the results of the election at all, and the subject was blatantly ignored. Even afterward I went to talk to one of the panelists, Elizabeth Beardsley, the Senior Policy Counselor of the US Green Building Council about how to get involve and exchange personal contacts, and when Emily asked her what she thought about Trump’s presidency a PR person came running in to stop her from answering.

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We did run into many people who wanted to talk about it too, though. Before the panel, we met a man from New York who outwardly expressed his disappointment about the election and how the fact that Trump has clearly stated that he believes climate change is a hoax, will influence USA’s future climate policy. We talked to people from Canada that staged a demonstration for indigenous people all over the world who have been treated horribly i.e. Australia, Canada, and yours truly America. They were outraged by the results of the election and Trump altogether (they happened to be Bernie supporters hahaha). Also, at an art installation at the Green Zone, two French ladies asked about what they thought was going to happen to the States, and they were also upset. Overall, today I found myself questioning what has the world come to? How can we make choices based off of fear, ignorance, and hate?

In the Green Zone, we went back to and saw more of the art installations connected to climate change. I also listened to a fascinating talk/discussion about how climate change disproportionately affects women in the world, especially in African countries. In many African countries, women are responsible for the agricultural components of their society. They are the ones who go out to the forests and plant and harvest food. Due to climate change which brings extreme weather conditions, their agriculture is suffering. Though women play a vital role in the agricultural developments, they are not allowed say when it comes to government policy and or funding about protecting the environment.

Decided to cut today a little short, and left the conference at around 2:30 to make our way back to the hotel. Rested up a bit, then I ventured out to the Bahai Palace. The Palace was beautiful and had a photo exhibit that was created for the COP about pollution in Morocco, and was displayed in the large elegant hallways.

As the night comes to an end, I will share an MLK Jr. quote I received today from a mentor of mine:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Time to make sure we keep the arc bending towards justice, and being here at the COP is a constant reminder that it’s the people who make a difference by coming together, speaking up, and taking action.

Nov 8th: COP 22: Day 2

Nov 8th: COP 22: Day 2

This morning we got to the COP early to meet all the other RINGO (young people) delegates. We all introduced ourselves and I think I am the second youngest person at the entire conference! It was an interesting networking experience, and cool to see the diversity of backgrounds coming to address global warming and climate change.

Today’s theme is “Earth Day” and we went to an information session about the importance of cross-sector collaboration and observation in order to understand and make positive change to the natural world. Afterwards, we got some lunch (which was a little bit better today). Then we explored the different countries, which have pavilions at the COP organized by region that explores that countries climate change action plans. Africa’s region was amazing because Morocco had a really cool display that focused on the importance of Africa, which is a continent that I believe people devalue, and mainly focus on their deficits rather than their assets. Other highlights included Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, USA, and India, which had interactive displays.

Then we headed back over to the Green Zone (public zone). I saw the Facebook stand and then went over to the civil societies section which was really eye-opening. There were lots of art exhibits which displayed climate activism, with graffiti and areal photos, as well as hands-on art making (where we made recycled art).

We left to the town center for a traditional dinner and went back to the hotel to rest up. Nervous to see what the election results will be, but will find out in the morning.

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Nov 7th: New Kids on the COP

Nov 7th: New Kids on the COP

Today was our first day at the COP 22! It was a bit hectic getting there because the roads were packed and it rained all day long. We went through security and got our official badges, then entered the arena. The conference is the size of a mini city with large tents holding different conference centers, meeting spaces, and exhibitions. It was rather overwhelming because there is so much, and the conference is paperless so it’s a bit tricky to find out the schedule.

We started the morning sitting in on the SBSTA opening plenary, which was quite dry, but went over the Paris agreement and the countries assigned to do research and propose sections at future hearings at the conference.

Here is a quick link to the background of the Paris agreement, settled on last year, which will goes into effect here in Marrakech.

Then we went to hear about developing countries expectations of the COP. After that we got some food (for which we had to wait in an hour line!). Then I wondered around the side exhibits and talked with people from all over the world. Emily, Jennie and I headed to the green zone (an interactive area open to the public) to explore their exhibits and learned about Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA), which focuses on helping African countries hopefully end food insecurity. We also got to try out virtual audience.

We all reconvened and got on a bus to take us to the center of the city. We got an awesome dinner after a very long day. We had a very interesting conversation over dinner about nuclear energy and it’s controversies.

We then walked back to the Riad and I did some work.

That is all for Monday.

Nov 6th: First Full Day in Morocco

Nov 6th: First Full Day in Morocco

So it Begins: First Full Day in Morocco

Today was our first full day in Morocco, and because the conference doesn’t start until tomorrow we got to explore the city!

We started off with breakfast at our Riad, and then walked over (through a palace) to the Riad we are staying at for the rest of our trip. This one is even more beautiful! After being welcomed with tea and cookies we set up our plan for the day and headed out.

We started with a horse carriage ride to the Jardin Majorelle which was serene and beautiful compared to the ever so hectic city. I was also interviewed about the garden for a Chinese news program which airs in Africa???? Then we grabbed a bite to eat. We then went to the Moroccan Photography Museum, which wasn’t that interesting but had views over the entire city! After that, we walked through the market place (called the souk) where there were so many vendors and it was filled with color, people, lanterns, spices, and more.

Palace and Garden

Lanterns

photo-lanterns

The old city of Marrakech is filled with tiny alleyways and it is easy to get turned around, but fun to explore. We made it back to our hotel and welcomed our 5th delegate, Kate, who had just flown in with a traditional Moroccan four course meal!!!

Marrakech is such an interesting city; it is developed in some ways and not in others. There are definitely gender discrepancies where people would always go up to Tyler before any of the other of us because he is a he. In a group, I feel very safe, but I can’t imagine being here alone. Tomorrow the conference starts! So I’m off to bed to get some sleep, so tusbih ealaa khayr or goodnight!

Nov 5th: Our Journey

Nov 5th: Our Journey

Hello all,

Jennie, Emily, Tyler and I (4 of the 5 Emory delegates heading to Morocco) left Emory at around 3 to head to the airport for our big adventure! We got some food to chow down on, and of course Emily had to make a quick pit stop to grab her selfie stick, and then we were all ready to go.

The first flight was to Paris, it was overnight but rather smooth with good movies too! Tried to work on my research paper… won’t go into too much detail about how that went. Once we got to Paris we had a four-hour layover, and then we flew to Casablanca.

Morocco was ready for us! Once we got to Casablanca everything was COP 22 (the name of the conference) themed! the entire airport had transformed and people led the way to a private lounge for us to wait to take a setup bus to Marrakech. As we drove along, police escorted all the billboards had been changed to be environmental-friendly adds.

During the three hour drive, we saw the country, which was mainly composed of dessert. We barely saw any towns until we got to the city, which was hustle and bustling. It took a while to get to the riad (hotel), but we made it. We went on an adventure to get some food and cash near the main square and came back to eat and share stories. Finally, we went to bed, and woke up to see the beautiful Riad this morning. Adventure awaits, today is our day of sightseeing!!!!

Lastly, I want to write about what I hope to gain from this experience so I have a point of reference at the end of my trip. I hope to be able to push myself this next week, to explore and go out of my comfort zone (safely). I want to be trusting while enhancing my “street-smart” skills and I want to learn and soak up information like a sponge because this is such a unique opportunity. I want to meet new people, network, and learn from others my listening and being curious and inquisitive.

The airport and drive form Casablanca to Marrakech:

 

 Our first night Riad (Hotel):

 

Humans of COP22 – Youth Delegates from Malaysia

Humans of COP22 – Youth Delegates from Malaysia

 

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Why is climate change important to you? Why are you at the COP?

I graduated from University of Nottingham in Malaysia with a degree in Environmental Sciences. I started my interest in climate change by getting involved with local NGOs, youth organizations, school projects, and volunteer programs in my country. I am really interested in seeing how science interacts with policy in dealing the problem of climate change. As a youth representative of my country, I believe youth is an important part in getting involved with climate solutions, and I am hoping to see the impact of youth in dealing with climate issues.

Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham (left)

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Humans of COP22 – Luis Miguel Tayori Kendero

Humans of COP22 – Luis Miguel Tayori Kendero

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How has climate change affected your life and work?

During last year, in our community, people had less water. Because of climate change, we have to grow the crops that we used to grow at different times. For example, we used to harvest bananas in August, but now we cannot harvest them in August anymore. Native seeds don’t grow the same way because sometimes, for example, there is too much sun. Because of climate change, we don’t find the same plants in the same months. It also happens on animals, because they can no longer find the same plants to eat. It is all a chain. Everything has changed.

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