My final visit to COP 21 was probably the best one (except for the first day with the heads of states attending). I was able to attend a question and answer session by Al Gore, and watch some of the negotiation process. Al Gore is an amazing speaker who is very passionate about climate change. He started the Climate Reality Project, and has trained thousands of people to become climate educators and climate activists. There were so many people who attended his presentation; they had to move it to a different room. About fifteen people were able to ask him questions, and it was amazing to see how individuals from all over the world were trying to solve the problem of this generation. There were Ugandan organic farmers, investors from the UK, an Indian nun, a lawyer from Bangladesh, and many more. Questions ranged from divestment to gender issues, artic climate impacts to the role of youth in the climate crisis. He answered all of the questions and gave great advice on how to be involved, and that he thinks civil society is a very powerful voice that negotiators need to listen to. I left this discussion feeling hopeful, because there is someone influential and passionate about climate change that can make a difference in areas that other people cannot.
The session of the negotiation that I watched was very surprising. I could see why nothing really is done, or happens at a very slow pace. The session started fifteen minutes late because some of the countries were tardy, and then several countries started to say how they did not agree with some of the changes in the revised version of the agreement, and wanted to go back to negotiating wording after the co-chair of the session said there would not be an negotiations until the evening session. For the hour that I stayed to listen, forty-five minutes were composed of different countries asking for clarification on what the directions were! I could see the co-chair getting really frustrated, but he stayed professional and answered each country’s question, with a little bit of sass. At one point, the Venezuelan ambassador started to comment that at the rate the session was going, “They weren’t going to compromise on anything and the agreement was going to hell”, to which the co-chair responded, “Then we’ll follow it to hell”. I think this shows that the parties will do everything in their power to come to a globally binding agreement. It is encouraging that they will not let stubbornness and indecisiveness get in the way.
The experience of attending COP 21 has been amazing and allowed me to see what different solutions and adaptation methods there are to dealing with climate change, and how it impacts everyone differently. I am so glad that Moravian College has the UNFCCC accreditation and allowed my fellow students and me to attend COP 21. I would have never received this education in the classroom. At the end and beginning of each day, I heard people say they were optimistic that the delegations would compromise and come together to form a binding agreement by December 11th. I hope this happens, because the fate of the world rests in their hands. If one country decides they do not want to accept the agreement, then the future of humanity is doomed.