Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day 3 at COP22 Part II: Trying to make sense of it all

An hour before my alarm was to go off, I awoke. I had been dreaming about the election outcome. So I checked the news - and was shocked by the headline: "Cliffhanger." That would change a bit later to show that the Republicans had taken control of the country. This was my Facebook post at about 6:30 a.m.:

In a little while, I have to walk in to the UN meetings and face the world. Literally. Not sure I am up for this. It is tough enough to try to "solve" climate change, work towards sustainable development to close the gap on inequality, and fight for education and equal rights for women around the world. But what do you do when your own country elects a person who is against all of that...

I needed to pull my act together since I help run the daily meetings of the Research and Independent NGOs. One of my steering committee colleagues - a very wise, even-keeled climate policy expert from Germany, leaned over and said: "It is a sad day for the world. We are going back to WWII times, only this time, it is not Germany causing the problems." I gulped.

Just yesterday, friends on Facebook were interested in knowing what the reactions to the election would be from people around the world (before any of us knew the outcome). A reference to WWII was not one that I would have predicted 24 hours ago. To say it was difficult to stay focused on the tasks at hand today is an understatement.

My third post of the morning on Facebook was let those friends know what the reactions have been:

The election result has cast a deep shadow over Morocco. I remember the elation in 2009, when Obama was new to the office and the world hoped that there would at last be progress on international climate change policy. Today, it is just the opposite. People fear that the US will pull out of the Paris Agreement, will no longer provide funds for sustainable development and climate mitigation/adaptation or any other UN initiative. Much of the key climate research comes from NOAA, NASA, etc. Will that be shut down? People worry about how this will embolden Putin or increase global conflict. Latin Americans are asking what this means for cross border relationships with their "neighbor" to the north. And we are in a Muslim country. The people fear for Muslims around the world. Despite the fact that the sun came out and it is a beautiful day weather-wise, the mood is dark. But the empathy and support is strong. That brings a bit of solace.

The COP22 venue in Marrakech, Morocco

My post today was going to be about the Earth Information session from yesterday where some of the latest climate change data was shared. It wasn't exactly upbeat news. The Futurearth organization has a headline on their webpage from November 3rd: Plans to meet international climate targets may fall short, new report says referring to a United Nations Environmental Programme report. Those who follow climate change science already knew that the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit on global temperature rise included in the Paris Agreement was not likely to be met. What shocked me was what the panelist from this group had to say.

In order to have a 50% change of achieving this target, the following would have to happen:
  • Within 4 years, we will need to hit peak emissions (of greenhouse gases)
  • Within 40 years, we need to achieve net-zero emissions
  • Within 80 years, we need a new carbon sink on the scale of our oceans (read geo-engineering as mentioned in my previous post).
To me, this is frightening. Comments (tweets) like the one below made by our now president-elect make it even more so:

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I imagine the election results have cast quite a shadow, since the president-elect denies the reality of climate change. But even Clinton & Obama, who do admit climate change is real, have done almost nothing except delay and support the fossil fuel extraction industry. I guess this is a case of 'out of the frying pan & into the fire'.