Greetings. At this time I am battling with mixed emotions. There are so many positive climate actions that are being taken by community members from around the world but, my heart also hurts to think that the necessary actions may not be taken in time. It is incredibly difficult to continue to see the impacts that anthropogenic climate change is having on the lives of so many. There is much to reflect upon after the first day of entering into the Climate Generations “Green Zone,” which is the area that is open to the general public at COP21.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by ambassadors passing out apples in front of columns with the flags of all of the different countries represented. After taking a group photo in front of the columns, one of our delegates began a conversation with a couple of gentleman, and one just happened to be the President of Mozambique, which was a very special way to begin our day.
In the Green Zone, we were given the opportunity to hear from Ben Lilliston, the Director of Climate Strategies from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. He discussed how farming and food systems are being impacted by climate change and shared that there are not current plans in place to address the droughts that have been predicted in some of the largest food growing regions in the U.S. He also emphasized that international trade must be brought into the climate change conversation, as it wasn’t specifically mentioned in the recent Trans Pacific Partnership agreements.
We also heard from Laura Bishop, the Vice President of of Public Affairs and Sustainability for Best Buy, and she shared how her company was leading by example in their commitments to sustainable practices. Recently, Best Buy signed the American Business Act On Climate Pledge, as they support a strong outcome at COP21 and have committed to a 45% carbon reduction by 2020. She also talked about their recycling programs – they recently reached over 1 billion pounds of recycled electronics and they are setting new ambitious goals for their recycling efforts.
Upon completion of our roundtable discussions we were given the opportunity to explore the Climate Generation area, and I found myself drawn to the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion. The Indigenous community is incredibly special to me, as I believe that they have the value systems and knowledge that has the potential to save humanity. I felt the powerful energy of community in this area, as there were youth painting and engaging in dialogue as well as presenters from all of the world sharing how they are being impacted by climate change. It made me feel very happy to see these types of exchanges taking place, and I left feeling hopeful for what COP21 has the potential to be.
At the same time, this experience was bittersweet, because yesterday we were told that language protecting the rights of Indigenous communities could be removed from the COP21 agreement, and Indigenous Peoples are very worried about these proposed changes. It is deeply disheartening to think that the communities bearing the brunt of the impacts created by developed countries’ emissions are being marginalized. I believe it is wrong for any wording that protects these vulnerable communities to be removed from the agreement.
I would like to close by sharing an art piece entitled, “We Are All Citizens of This World,” as well as other inspirational photos that were taken throughout the day. As stated, I am hopeful that a stronger agreement will be made, but I am also deeply disappointed to think that another year of COP negotiations may go by without the appropriate actions being taken to truly address unsustainable greenhouse gas emissions and those they impact most.
All my positive energy and love!