Taking Things into Our Own Hands

cop-student-groupWhat stood out to me most at COP22 was the concrete division between the urgency of the negotiations and negotiators compared to the urgency apparent among the people and organizations running the side events. During my experience in Marrakech, as someone not directly involved in the negotiations, I felt the urgency all around me. There was constant talk of how we have already fallen behind on combating this crisis and how we need to act now. We do not have time to waste; this is not a practice run – this is the time we need to act if we want to keep our planet safely habitable. This need for momentum and action was overwhelming, but necessary. Yet, this was not always adequately reflected in the negotiations. There was talk, but the follow through into action is uncertain and not firmly in place.

Political realities do not change the facts about the climate crisis we are facing. Money does not change whether or not climate change is accelerating. We know this. We know this, and we, the people, are ready to act upon that knowledge. It took 20 years to come to the first international agreement on climate change, the Paris Agreement. We do not have another 20 years to wait to agree on how to implement these initiatives. Action is needed now, and if there is uncertainty as to whether or not the international negotiators are going to make that happen, then we must act. Climate justice has to happen one way or another if we want to survive and protect our earth and communities; the inaction and slow pace of discussions internationally do not change that reality.

The Marrakech Action Proclamation was published after two weeks of the negotiations. In the proclamation, 196 countries confirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and called for social and political action on climate change. Although this is a great start in addressing climate change, we cannot count on this. With the crisis we are facing, in order to create the future we need, we need everyone to take action now.

Being at COP22 was an incredible experience that I am grateful to have had. Although the urgency of this issue was not always acknowledged by those that needed to acknowledge it, the urgency was present in Marrakech nonetheless. Having climate activists from all over the world together, uniting despite differences to fight back against climate change was an unforgettable experience. The overarching theme of empowerment to take action – especially for youth, women, and indigenous peoples – combined with the realization that we have to take action into our own hands reinvigorated my desire to be on the ground in my own communities, organizing for change and empowering others to fight and take action with me.

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