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Author: Emily Li

Humans of COP22 – Native American Canadian Youth Delegate

Humans of COP22 – Native American Canadian Youth Delegate


Native American Canadian youth delegate Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie (Photo credit: Jennie Sun)
Native American Canadian youth delegate Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie (Photo credit: Jennie Sun)

How do you feel about the results of the presidential election?

I wish Bernie didn’t drop out. It could have saved so many people… I don’t think [Trump] totally understands his own capacity—I don’t think he’s smart enough, to be honest. He doesn’t know what it takes to be president, I don’t think he understands how much work is put into it, and he’s just going to bulldoze whatever he feels like isn’t working without respecting process… To be honest, I don’t even understand his policies.

How do you think Trump’s administration will affect America?

The way I see it is that like people are going to be rioting on the streets… It’s not even just like marches at this point, people are really going to express a lot of their frustration on like every single thing that’s been happening. People are going to be very reactionary, which could be a good thing but also a bad thing. Good in that people are expressing their frustration, but also the bad thing is working on how possible is anything that we’re striving for. And that discourages a lot of people… That’s the only way that they’ll be heard. They’ve exhausted all other avenues of posing questions, trying to write letters, talking to other people, doing ground work and writing as much as possible, on science and everything surrounding climate justice.

But there’s a wall now, officially. It’s become like a dictatorship within a democracy. And people will start to get the sense of that to the point where that they will have to do something—like civil disobedience—that is the only way for a lot of people to express a lot of their frustration because they’re not going to get any answers anywhere else. Which sucks. But maybe that’s needed–maybe it’s necessary that people have to get to the point, because I feel like a lot of people are very removed, are very passive. I’m sure that there’s a good population of people that are, but now when they’re realize that he’s not going to fulfill anything that you asked him to and that he said he would, he’s literally in there for, you know, corporate interests, the fame. People assumed that, ‘Oh, he’s there for me because he’s somewhat hearing my racism, he’s hearing my sexism, he’s hearing all these things that I feel are amazing,’ but when it actually comes down to it, he’s not going to help them with jobs, he’s not going to help them with anything that really matters with their life day to day. 

What do you think the unrest will lead to?

You know one of these days he’s going to lose a lot of his support—it’s only a matter of time… He’s so against anything progressive and anything that’s rights-based. People might react and try to get him assassinated or something. I wouldn’t be surprised and I wouldn’t be sad, either. People feel like, ‘Oh yeah, he totally aligned with me,’ but they’ll finally realize that he’s not actually going to help them… It will happen, though. There will be somebody who’s driven to much rage and frustration that they say, ‘This person needs to be out,’ and bypass the election process. Seriously, there’s some crazy people out there in America.

— Sadie Phoenix Alexa Michelle Lavoie, University of Winnipeg

Talking About the Elephant in the Room—COP22 Reacts to Trump’s Election

Talking About the Elephant in the Room—COP22 Reacts to Trump’s Election

Elizabeth Beardsley from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) speaks in a panel at COP22 (Photo credit: Emily Li)
Elizabeth Beardsley from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) speaks in a panel at COP22 (Photo credit: Emily Li)

“Before we open up for a Q&A,” said Karen Florini, “I’d like to remind everybody that the questions must be directly related to the topic of this panel, and not about the events of last night—as much as you’d like to ask them.”

Florini, a deputy special envoy for climate change from the U.S. Department of State, had the unenviable responsibility of moderating a U.S. Green Building Council discussion on how health impacts could inspire local climate action—the day after the United States presidential election. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t stop a flurry of pointed questions about how “new leadership” in the federal government could affect green building policies, inciting her PR manager to shadow her closely throughout the session.

If you’ve somehow managed to stay unaware of the reality show that’s been unfolding in America, I’m impressed. In an effort to remain nonpartisan, I’ll let Donald Trump say his talking points for me—how Mexican immigrants bring drugs, rapists, and crime to the states; how he can do anything as a celebrity, including grab women by their genitals; and how climate change is a “hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.” Did I mention he’s been elected by the American people to one of the most powerful positions on the planet?

Given Trump’s position on climate change—he once said that we “need global warming” because it was snowing in New York—talk of the election was inescapable at COP22, even if a lot of it was hushed around press offices. (We approached several UN representatives and officials unwilling to give us much more than, “I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to talk about this.” One UN representative from the Norwegian delegation added, “I hope it will not affect too much of what’s happening here. I hope he changes his mind.”) Otherwise, however, Trump was on the tip of most delegates’ tongues—a universally sour flavor for climate activists across a variety of cultures and identities.

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Knowing What We Don’t Know—Earth Information Day at COP22

Knowing What We Don’t Know—Earth Information Day at COP22

Panelists for Earth Information Day at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco (Photo credit: Jennie Sun)
Panelists for Earth Information Day at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco (Photo credit: Jennie Sun)

The one thing we can all agree on is that climate change sparks a host of complex questions. Besides the questions of whether it’s occurring in the first place and if we’re responsible (hint: yes and yes), the debate then turns to its repercussions—how is climate change affecting our world? Our oceans? People and ecosystems of all nations and coasts? And most importantly, what can we do about it?

Unfortunately, it’s difficult—not to mention costly and ineffective—to fix something that you don’t understand (i.e. why Macs usually get replaced instead of repaired). Likewise, it will be very hard to effectively respond to climate change without collaborative scientific knowledge. Thankfully, this conclusion itself is common knowledge. The Paris Agreement, which became international law two weeks ago, reflects global consensus that “accelerating, encouraging, and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting economic growth and sustainable development.” With this seed of thought—as well as watering and care from the UN World Meteorological Organization—the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) 2016 Implementation Plan was born.

The plan was introduced to the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC at Earth Information Day on November 8, 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco. In general, the day also provided an important “up-to-date picture of the state of the climate an outlook on future development and opportunities to take the most effective climate action.” The UNFCCC’s Newsroom went on to report that the event would “link the work of the science community, including systematic observation, to the implementation of the Paris Agreement’s goals and aims to provide key information.” In other words, the day provided an overview of an international blueprint in the works for building a scientifically-informed, sustainable future.

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