Wow, it feels amazing to finally be here. It was a long journey, and we had a bit of a stressful train ride. It’s a bit hard adjusting to a country where none of the signs are in English and very few people speak it. Fortunately, the food here so far has been amazing, and I’ve been managing to sleep whenever possible.
On Sunday night, we went to a traditional German restaurant that has been around since the 1300s. I also went to the Climate Action Network (CAN) briefing to learn more about how this COP has the potential to set up the framework for the Talanoa Dialogue and COP24.
This morning, I went to a panel discussion to learn more about how to finance the Paris Agreement. One of the speakers raised a good point that it is not simply the responsibility of developed countries to help finance the agreement, but in fact, a mandatory obligation. The woman said that for countries who have historically had high carbon emissions and have developed off of this resource, they should now come together as leaders, not hide behind one another hoping the other will take a stand. She strongly advocated that because the U.S. has dropped out of the Paris Agreement, they should not disrupt its framework. She used the analogy that if a couple is getting married, but one says that they will get divorced in four years, they should not have a say in how many children to have.
There are lots of interesting people here as well. Just walking around, I happened to see the Prime Minister of Fiji. I met a college student from Stockholm who’s representing an NGO helping to protect the oceans around Scandinavia. In the “Talanoa Space”, I went to a panel led by a group of Fijian and German youth who had been on an exchange program to one another’s countries. ne of the Fiji students had been affected by Cyclone Winston in 2016. He was away from his family when it hit and he lost all power and had no way of knowing whether or not his family was safe. One German student was describing her life growing up next to one of the biggest coal mines in Germany. She admitted to having family that worked in the industry who would lose jobs if it was shut down, but she said one very powerful quote: “For my family, it might be hard, but there are no jobs on a dead planet.”
As 40% of the world is under the age of 25, it is imperative that as youth we take action to preserve our future and take an exit from coal.