Action at COP-25

Wednesday was a day of working with YOUNGO again, beginning with the spokescouncil or daily meeting in the morning, which Nancy facilitated. After this, YOUNGO had a bilateral with the President of the UN General Assembly. Bilaterals are one of the multiple ways that constituencies like YOUNGO can get involved in the negotiations, although it was difficult for me to see more to it beyond a PR move. Firstly, all interested YOUNGO members had to submit their questions beforehand so that they could be reviewed, so everything was pretty scripted. After all of the scripted questions, there were some more spontaneous ones, but since the PGA took them five at a time he was able to skip over certain topics and focus on others. Some of the questions were: What are your plans as PGA for impacting economy and security of LDCs? In 2020, what will the UN’s process be to include young people in the discussion and how will UN cater to changing needs of youth? After 25 years of having the UNFCCC negotiations, we can all see outcomes are not meeting needs of time. Don’t you think we should redesign the negotiations to facilitate more collaboration and contribution? The considerations of human rights have been sidelined in negotiations leaving many communities vulnerable… what will you do to ensure human rights and indigenous rights?

Before the meeting and bilateral Nancy had introduced me to a Haverford graduate who has been working for the UN for the past several years. I spent some time talking with him after the meeting, and we ran into someone he knew, who mentioned something called the “contra COP.” I was immediately curious. I had heard about how in Chile they were holding an alternate climate meeting, but I didn’t know there was anything like that going on in Madrid. I got some more information, and found their website, which was all in Spanish and listed all of the events they were holding that week. I decided I would try to go there that day or the next, to see what it was like.

I had heard that there would be an action that morning in front of one of the plenary rooms, protesting the removal of human rights language from the Article 6 negotiations, but when I went there, all I could see were several groups of people chatting together. Wondering if maybe they were preparing for the action and trying not to look suspicious, I asked someone, but they told me they had all just gotten out of the last event. A security guard then asked everyone to clear away.

A bit confused, I decided to go to an event I had heard about that highlighted the work of Bayer Crop Science, a soil company that was doing research on no-till farming as a method of carbon sequestration. The VP of Environment at Bayer was presenting alongside the CEO of Gold Standard, a company that produces sustainability standards for other agriculture companies, someone representing the Farmers Union of the UK and Wales, and an economist from the USDA. The highlight was Bayer’s ongoing soil research, which was being done through satellite imaging of farmer in the Midwestern United States. The satellite technology could pick up how much the soil had been tilled, and then the researchers could test the soil to see how much the carbon content in a given field’s soil corresponded with how much that field had been tilled. The USDA person also talked about their grant program CIG (Conservation Innovation Grant) which gives money to those trying to develop tools for next generation’s conservation efforts on working agricultural land, through researching or implementing market-based solutions to resource challenges. The speaker said that the key words here are working land, because it shows that conservation can happen at the farming level, not just through preserving pristine national park lands. But I also hear another key term: market based strategies, and found that throughout the panel, the narrow focus on the no-till carbon sequestration methods they were trying to develop meant that other key aspects of GHG generation from industrial agriculture, such as pollution from pesticide production, could easily be ignored.

Later that afternoon I went to the CAN meeting, where they were discussing who would be the fossil of the day for that day. They also began discussing the action that was going to be happening that day. For some background, most actions at COP are very highly regulated and have to be registered with security beforehand. This one was unauthorized. Just as someone announced this, a security guard was seen entering the meeting hall… someone said, “This is a closed meeting for CAN members only,” but it took a little bit more discussing to finally get the guard to leave. After that, the details of the protest were sent via email. The instructions were for us to stand around chatting in groups inconspicuously outside the plenary hall entrance a few minutes before the protest was supposed to start. Upon hearing the signal, a whistle, everyone was to make as much noise as possible using anything they had. I used my glass water bottle and a bamboo reusable straw, both of which had ironically been given to me in a swag bag from COP. The protest got pretty heated… there was a central group of people who were doing call and response, and I was pretty close to them when I noticed that people were starting to sit down. I saw a security guard and I thought they were probably trying to get people to sit so they could get them under control. Someone next to me said “they are going to de-badge people!”


The security guards started to form a human blockade and edge the protesters who were within their blockade towards a large garage door-like exit, which was opened. As the crowd booed, they pushed people out of the doors. They began to close the doors, but people crowded around them and booed louder, and so they began to form another blockade around those people; I was among them but I eventually slipped away before they actually formed the blockade. Many people who were in press slipped out from the blockade and were allowed, but others who tried to go under the guards’ arms were stopped.  It was hectic!

I took a video, but it was too large a file to upload, so here are some screenshots of security letting someone from the press out:

Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 11.11.37 AM

and stopping others from escaping:

Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 11.12.09 AM Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 11.12.17 AM

About 300 people were locked outside in that courtyard area, and they blocked off anyone from entering that hall for the next hour. A lot of people were de-badged, though the next day they were allowed back into the conference, after a lot of push back. It was definitely an exciting experience.

After that, I wandered around the various booths where different groups were presenting their work in video or poster format. There I met an indigenous Amazonian from Peru, and we talked about the Peruvian Amazon and the organization he was involved with. I also asked him if he felt like he was able to have a voice at COP and impact the decision making. He said not really at all in the higher-level decisions, but that it was good to be there to bring more visibility to his town and community. The next week he and others in his group were going to be speaking with the environmental Minister of Peru in Lima about a specific issue affecting the Amazon river, in which a Chinese-based company was planning to dredge the river to make it more navigable, at the risk of ecosystem collapse and the damaging of indigenous lands.

Indigenous presence at COP (oficiál)


Hi everyone, I know that I’m posting this very late, but I wanted to share some of the things I learned with you and wrote about a while ago but didn’t get a chance to post earlier.

On Monday Dec 9th I attended an interesting panel, which consisted of someone from the French Ministry of Environment, someone from the French Agency for Development, an indigenous leader from a community in Chad, and someone from the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA), and someone from the Ministry of Environmental and Sustainable development in Colombia.

The panelists representing government and NGO talked about the programs that their departments or organizations are working on regarding deforestation.

The French government has a program in Cote D’Ivoire, working with local farming communities on sustainable cacao production and agroforestry. They’re also developing an anti-deforestation Action Plan, which is supposed to be out in 2020.

The TFA works on negotiating with private sector food providers that are contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, and getting them to stop sourcing their products from deforested areas. The companies currently sourcing meat from deforested areas had a goal of net zero deforested sourcing by 2020, but have missed that goal.

This talk was interesting to me not just because of the content, but also the way it was delivered, and a specific thing that happened afterwards: after the panel, during the Q&A, a woman stood to ask: How can you in the French government say that you are doing so many great things, when right now you are supporting deforestation, the devastation of primary forests, and indigenous communities in French Guiana by goldmining companies? The French Minister was a bit at a loss for words, though he did say that they needed to change their now outdated mining laws, and said that he would like to talk about that issue with her afterwards. I wonder how that conversation went. Here’s a link to learn more about this issue:


I wanted to hear more from Hindou Ibrahim, so I went to another talk that she was participating in that evening. It was a series of panels spotlighting indigenous leaders or youth who had worked with indigenous communities, hosted by the UN. The main topic was about NDCs, how Nature Based Solutions can and should be main contributors to NDCs, and how indigenous communities are leaders in nature-based solutions. It was great that the UN was giving a platform for different indigenous people to bring attention to the issues affecting their communities, though as Hindou said, the time of negotiations are finished; we have gotten as much agreement as possible and it is time for us to see how we can localize what we decide at the national level… there’s no time to negotiate anymore, and it’s up to communities to apply the recommendations that have been brought together at the international level, along with indigenous knowledge of land management methods that is thousands of years older than scientific knowledge and that can be paired with science to meet the NDCs and the needs of communities experiencing climate change. She said that we have the tools we need, but what is needed is implementation and financial investment: investment in nature and in youth.

The next day, on Tuesday, I witnessed a different kind of interaction between indigenous peoples and the UN. I had stayed late at the venue, and it was already 6:30 when I was about to leave, but I heard singing coming from the IPCC pavilion. I went to see what was going on. It was an event with a lot of people from an organization called La Minga that brings together indigenous peoples from all over Latin America to advocate for their rights and make their voices heard. They also did a ceremony there and one indigenous leader from Brazil addressed the Spanish IPCC representatives and asked why they haven’t done more, why are they allowing the killing of indigenous peoples. Her words were translated by a young indigenous woman. Then, they presented their charter on climate change, and a woman from Chile read it. It was emotional and raw. Here’s a link to the charter:


Day 4: Exploring the Green Zone

Today I attended the Article 6 informal negotiations, a side event on Article 6 and decarbonizing the energy sector, and a side event on climate finance. The Article 6 negotiations were extremely well-attended — negotiators and observers filled the big plenary hall, and there were also lots of people interested in the finance panel. Several panelists in the finance panel pushed for more climate finance to be delivered through multilateral development banks. (The US is a donor to five of these: the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank.) The argument was that these have been the most effective in mobilizing climate finance so far, and that they can move quickly using existing institutional knowledge and relationships. At the same time these entities can have conflicting priorities and varying mandates, so it seems that this might make more sense as a complement to mechanisms like the GEF, GCF, Adaptation Fund and (eventually?) a fund for loss and damage.

A painting by Vincente Mercegue Cartes, Age 12, Chile

I also got a chance to visit the Green Zone, which is the area with broader access than the Blue Zone where negotiations, official side events, and pavilions are hosted. This area turned out to be a very corporate and sanitized space, meant for engagement with Spanish society. I saw lots of school groups, a VR headset exhibit, and an exhibit of children’s art and letters that had been sent over from Chile.

Campground complete with green floor mat, picnic tables, cabin and a trailer selling hot dogs.

COP24: Loading…………………


So the conference of parties was supposed to end yesterday with the final plenary starting at 3pm local time. But, as usual, the last session has been drawn out past the initially scheduled time. It was postponed to 6pm then 12am then 4am and currently its 8pm on Saturday with no word of when the plenary will start. I have heard rumors that it may be postponed until tomorrow. In the meantime, the COP Presidency has convened bilaterals between parties to try to work out their differences. The main sticking point I have heard have to do with Article 6 which Brazil is blocking. Article 6 discusses how market-based mechanisms can be used to combat climate change and contribute to parties’ achieving their NDCs. It is now up to the ministers, who have arrived in the last two days, to work out these issues. Many delegates have already left the venue as this is out of their hands.

Unfortunately, if nothing happens within the hour, I may be forced to follow suit and depart the venue without a conclusion to COP24, at least not the best outcome hoped. There will still be a rulebook with some parts incomplete. These incomplete parts have to go through further committees and sessions before the can be incorporated into the rule book which will not be activated until 2020. A source following transparency and NDC implementation told me that they were happy with the outcome of Katowice. A lot has been achieved. But obviously, there is still work to be done before 2020. Chile you’re next!

Correction: According to some YUNGO sources, the Brazil issue has been resolved but now there is a Turkey issue which has yet to be clarified to me.

COP23 Day 4 – Climate Justice Day

After an amazing day yesterday hearing some great speeches and listening to the high-level segment, I decided to stop listening to the dignitaries deliver their addresses and go to more events. We tried to attend the negotiations, but we couldn’t get in since they went closed door. From looking at the published schedule it does seem like the APA negotiations proceeded because the APA plenary is back on the schedule. A lot of talk this week has centered around the divide between the global North and South, which is primarily responsible for shutting down the APA plenary yesterday. We’ll see if this divide sneaks into the closing plenary of COP tomorrow.

Since we couldn’t get in the room to hear the wheeling and dealing, I attended some side events. The one that stood out most prominently for me was a Presidency Event Integrating Human Rights in Climate Action, a fitting topic given that today was Climate Justice Day! It was presided over by the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights (Kate Gilmore) and was opened by the COP23 President and Prime Minister of Fiji. He gave an excellent speech where the overarching message was that human rights are universal and our climate policies must protect the weak from the strong and give hope to those who are most vulnerable. The president of the Marshal Islands also gave opening remarks where she called for an end of the blame game, mentioning that all nations must be part of the solution and all actors have the responsibility to do what they can to help those in the most vulnerable places.

 The panel discussion was excellent! The big take-a-ways were the need to engage everyone in climate action and to acknowledge the special circumstances, challenges, and opportunities that different groups bring to the table. One quote from a panelist: “If you aren’t at the table you are likely on the menu. Everyone needs to have a seat at the table.” Throughout this conference a lot of discussion has focused around gender inclusion as well as in engaging the indigenous peoples. Both groups had major wins at this COP, with the establishment of a Gender Action Plan and a Local Communities & Indigenous Peoples Platform. For decades the indigenous peoples have been trying to be engaged in the development of climate action, and there is a lot of positive energy here around the fact they’ve finally gotten an official voice. Hindau Oumarau Ibrahim, who has been a major presence at this COP, was a panelist during this session and once again gave a passionate speech about engaging the indigenous peoples to help develop ideas and install paths that will met their priorities. I have really enjoyed hearing her speak throughout the week. The session ended with a closing remarks from Mary Robinson, the president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, where she urged us to feel good about the progress we’ve made and to use that energy to develop effective climate action strategies. All in all, it was an excellent session!

The COP23 President and PM of Fiji opening the session.
The COP23 President and PM of Fiji opening the session.

Driving Accurate Science into Social Policy

As a student with an interest in the science of climate change, I was excited to have the opportunity to broaden my horizons and engage with the policy and activism aspects of climate change at COP22. My focus for the week was understanding the role that scientists play in creating and guiding climate change legislation, as well as their methods of effectively communicating their work and the seriousness of the situation.

I was luckily able to participate in Earth Information Day, which was designed to be a discussion of the up-to-date state of the climate and an opportunity to optimize engagements and connect information between the scientific community and party delegates. Held in one of the two giant plenaries on site, I looked forward to what the forthcoming discussion held.

Earth Information Day.

Many of the talks given by the scientists focused on their new data sets and models of projected temperature increases. The main overarching theme was that more money and resources were needed for research and measurements to go from a global background level to a higher resolution regional scale, with the ability to pinpoint accurate levels of carbon emissions and temperature increases in specific areas.

A delegate from Mali asked why the goal of keeping temperature increases below 1.5 °C was no longer possible. I was shocked to hear one of the scientists on the panel respond that the goal of 1.5 °C or below was still a possibility. Throughout the conference, the scientists pushed the message that we could limit temperature increases to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. I was distraught to see this because the honest truth is that even if we completely stopped carbon emissions today, we would still surpass 1.5 °C and probably 2 °C. It was difficult for me to discern if the scientists legitimately believed this or if this was a message meant to maintain hope. While the numbers of 1.5 or 2 °C hold symbolic value, I think that they focus people on goals that are unrealistic and divert attention from pressing issues such as how vulnerable countries will adapt. Sure, these are numbers that can be advertised and sound really nice to everyone. But they assume that future technologies such as carbon sequestration will play a big role in limiting emissions to the atmosphere and that as part of the Paris Agreement opt-in system, countries will continue to enhance their emission limits.

A screenshot of a picture posted by the official Instagram account of the UNFCCC, promoting the message that keeping temperature increases below 1.5 °C  is still possible.
A presentation showing how much room for carbon emissions (shown by the red slices) we still have left before we reach our temperature benchmarks of 1.5 and 2 °C.







Although more detailed data would certainly be helpful, I was frustrated that this was the main talking point. Doing more research is the easy part; as scientists, we can all continue to play our usual parts and produce more data. What is far more difficult, but more necessary, is to shift our focus towards advancing our science into social realms to ensure that our data are taken seriously and properly translated into public policy. If the data clearly show that climate change is occurring due to anthropogenic influences and that there are exponentially increasing temperatures, shouldn’t our priority be to make sure that climate change policy meets the requirements of what our data demand to avoid catastrophe? How do we clearly communicate important results such as the fact that the last time we were this warm 125,000 years ago, global sea levels rose 5 – 9 meters (Dutton and Lambeck, 2012)? We must transition away from remaining impartial and begin to engage with policy makers and the public, even if it will require time and for us to move out of our comfort zones.

Unfortunately, none of the speakers seemed to discuss techniques for communicating science and effectively making sure that policy reflected the increasingly dire outcomes for people and biodiversity around the world. As a result, at the end of the first discussion session I clicked a button to activate my microphone and asked the panel of scientists how well they thought policy makers incorporated their data. It wasn’t clear if they didn’t want to answer the question or didn’t take me seriously as a college kid, but they skirted around my question and responded that they believed governments took the issue of climate change very seriously.

At the end of the day, the bedrock of the UNFCCC process is fundamentally based on high-precision science. More research needs to be done to understand how climate change will affect diverse ecosystems around the world and how deleterious effects can be mitigated.

However, that is simply not enough.

As a scientist, I am used to being able to put in the time and effort to do experiments and accomplish my goals. However, I quickly realized at COP22 that the realm of climate change politics was a formidable foe and a completely different and uncomfortable game that involved compromises, a bit of propaganda, and extreme patience. But that does not mean that we can shrink away and wait for others to draft policy.

Rather, we must engage and fight to make sure that people understand the consequences of our data and that social policies of vast importance include responsible features that acknowledge and account for the current and future problems that science has shown we will all face.

As scientists, we must drop the fear of drawing attention to ourselves and speak up to the world even if our first attempts are incoherent or not well received. We must reject the alarmist label from those who do not believe our science or consciously choose to discredit it. In order to find solutions to a global problem, we must collaborate with each other, scientist to scientist, across other disciplines, with everyone; and reject the norm of individual achievement as the driver of scientific career progression. We must be politically active and support politicians that are in favor of increased funding for research. We must reach out and incorporate the public into our work to demystify science, increase transparency, and reduce the power dynamic between scientists and the public. These are all things that I believe that scientists must and can do.

Let’s hold off on “smiling for the planet” until we make sure that policy reflects what decades of data have been telling us.


– David

Dutton, A. and K. Lambeck. 2012. Ice volume and sea level during the last interglacial. Science 337(6093):216-219.

Footnote: If you are interested in learning more about how the science can become better incorporated into the humanities and social science, check out Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge by E.O. Wilson.

Holding the World in their Hands

Christina Hui ’17 and Patrick Houston ’17 take a hands-on approach to saving the world from the cataclysmic effects of climate change at COP22 in Marrakesh during the second week of the conference.

Christina Hui and Patrick Houston take a hands-on approach to saving the world from the cataclysmic effects of climate change at COP22 in Marrakesh. There were warnings from Sec. State John Kerry, Jeffrey Sachs (Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia), and others that if all nations met their "ambitions", we would still be far short of what was needed to meet a target of 1.5 degrees Centegrade rise in CO2 emissions over pre-industrial levels.

There were warnings from Sec. State John Kerry, Jeffrey Sachs (Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia), and others that if all nations met their “ambitions”, we would still be far short of what was needed to meet a target of 1.5 degrees Centegrade rise in CO2 emissions over pre-industrial levels.

COP in the heart of Marrakech

As we entered Djemaa el-Fna, the crowded, pulsing, square at the heart of the medina, we saw this neon sign high above the square.  Storytellers, acrobats, musicians, and maybe even snake charmers (we couldn’t see over the thick crowds surrounding some of these groups) drew huge crowds, as did

As we entered Djemaa el-Fna, the square at the heart of the medina, we saw this neon sign high above the square. Storytellers, acrobats, musicians, and maybe even snake charmers (we couldn't see over the thick crowds surrounding some of these groups) draw huge crowds, as do the food stalls and shops. Since one of the COP buses dropped off between the Koutoubia Mosque and the square, it was easy to visit at the end of the COP day. Somewhat insane in its noise and throngs and energy, but what an experience!

the food stalls and shops.  Since one of the free COP buses dropped off between the Koutoubia Mosque and the square, it was easy to visit at the end of the COP day.  Somewhat insane in its noise and throngs and energy, but what an experience!

Necessary Next Steps: Statements from around the world

On Thursday, 11/17, the second to the last day of COP 22, each nation gave its closing statements in one of the largest plenary tents at the COP. Most statements lasted about 5 minutes, during which ambassadors from departments of environmental protection, sustainability, or interior development from countries around the world reiterated urgency for action on climate, and asserted where improvements are still needed. While COP 21 was popularly considered the “last chance” for the world to lay meaningful groundwork for future carbon emissions commitments, COP 22 has been considered by many “the COP of action” in which the groundwork laid in Paris must be reinforced and furthered. In many ways, it seemed that the outcomes from the COP, in terms of the progress made with building onto the Paris Agreement, was not as concrete as many had hoped. Still, the remarks were varied and in addition to the reasons for concern, many of the countries shared their priorities and their actions which provide reasons to be hopeful about the world’s will to address climate change.

The front of the large plenary in which nations gave their final statements.


One common concern voiced by many developing nations called on developed nations to craft stronger and clearer Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Malawi, Bhutan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo- who was representing itself and less developed countries (LCDs) in general, and Cuba were among these states who pressed developed nations to take greater actions to curb their carbon emissions. Honduras, generally emphasized the need for INDCs from all nations to be crafted in a clear way so that progress is measurable, so nations can be held accountable for shortfallings, and so areas for improvement are identifiable. The ambassador from Honduras directed these instructions at all nations and not just developed nations.

Many poorer nations in the global South emphasized the fact that while their nation emits relatively little carbon emissions, they are bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change. Of the 14 or so national closing remarks that I sat in on, these concerns were mentioned by all the countries mentioned above. Much aligned with this concern, Honduras, Malawi, and what I believe was Jamaica communicated that they are spending so much of their money on storm recovery that they are unable to make gains in economic growth and disaster mitigation projects. To address challenges like this, the $100 billion dollar Green Climate Fund was proposed several years ago, to be enacted in 2020 for which developed nations would supply the fund to developing nations. While $100 billion may sound substantial, consider that Hurricane Sandy (NJ, 2012) costed $50 billion and Hurricane Katrina costed $129 billion. On the global scale, $100 billion to assist developing nations with climate mitigation, adaption, and disaster recovery is not very much and several countries expressed concern that the fund is woefully inadequate. Others focused on how it should be allotted and there was a reoccurring assertion that much should go towards loss and damage suffered by nations already feeling the drastic effects of climate change.

Inside the plenary in which nations gave their final statements.

The representative from Bolivia gave a unique remark in that he not only briefed over on how his country is suffering from and acting on climate, but he also criticized some of the functions of capitalism which he said perpetuate the climate crisis and climate injustice. The representative from Bolivia called out what he termed “ideological colonialism” of climate change which, if I understood correctly, referred to governments of developed nations promoting climate policies that strengthen the corporations within their nations, rather than focusing on doing the most good. The speaker shamefully noted that it is the same corporations who got us into the climate change crisis, who are now trying to pose as the “saviors”. In other worlds, he was pointing to what could be considered large, global scale green-washing. Ultimately, the government official from Bolivia called for a need to “change the capitalist system that perpetuates the climate crisis…to ensure a commitment to life, humanity, and the integrity of our natural home”.


First a disclaimer: I don’t necessarily view nations’ calls for improvement as necessarily negative feedback. I believe this demonstrates that states are taking the situation seriously and are committed to progress. With that said, there were some closing statements that were particularly more hopeful in that they demonstrated how nations are acting now. The nation of Georgia stated that it is “not a passive recipient of (international) aid, but a contributor (as well)”. While noting that it is a relatively low emitter of GHGs, Georgia backed up this statement by explaining how it has been acting in the country’s two areas of focus: one, by helping its neighbors who have higher emissions to make reductions by furthering its own capacity for wind, solar, and geothermal energy which those nations could acquire from Georgia; and two, by fortifying the education system that prepares young people to enter and contribute to a green economy.

The representative from Denmark boasted of the country’s strong offshore power production in what was either wind or hydropower production. He said that Denmark has produced as much as 5 Kw of electricity from these operations (per year I believe) and that this progress demonstrates that offshore energy can compete with the production levels of fossil fuel capabilities. The topic of gender equality was brought up by a few nations including Honduras and Malawi. If I understood correctly this is to include both recognition of how climate change disproportionately effects women as well as how women can and need to be included in developing solutions. Additionally, Honduras emphasized that the transition to a more sustainable world must also strengthen workers’ rights and incorporate sustainable urban development in current construction. Both Honduras and Georgia emphasized the importance of integrating studies on climate and environmental into our education systems and more generally increasing access to education. All four of these themes- women’s’ rights, workers’ rights, sustainable urban development, and education equity are included in the UN’s 17 key objectives for solving climate change.

Finally, nothing was mentioned about a Trump presidency in the closing statements of the national remarks that I attended. Challenges and questions remain: allotting and ensuring an adequate Green Climate Fund- especially for nations already or soon to be dealing with loss and damage; determining how initiatives can effectively address many of the UN’s 17 key objectives; and ensuring that INDCs are concrete and actionable are large tasks. But based on what I witnessed this week, I think the global commitment to solving the greatest crisis of our time has not waned aside from the U.S. The rest of the world is acknowledging the science, and many are already feeling the impacts in their everyday lives as they struggle to obtain safe drinking water, to breath clean air, and to produce and acquire sufficient food, so ignoring the issue is nearly impossible.

I leave the COP with gratefulness looking back at the U.S. commitment to act on climate change under the Obama administration, with shame and frustration for what the upcoming Trump administration claims it wants to do, and with hope looking forward, based on the demonstration of unwavering commitment to action from the global community to tackle the issue of climate change.

Professor Carol Nackenoff and Patrick Houston ’17 leaving the COP on the last day, 11/18.

Ben Goloff ’15 – at COP with SustainUS

Ben Goloff ’15, who is in Marrakesh with SustainUS, met with us on Wednesday, 11/16 to talk about their work, their various COP actions, and efforts to connect with environmental justice activists in Morocco. His colleague Ryan, also part of the conversation, talked about a couple of the EJ issues here, involving a silver mine pollution protest/shut-down/multi-year protest settlement  at Imider and also  the loss of fish stock and local livelihoods in Safi due to serious water pollution issues occasioned by companies like OCP Group, a major producer of phosphates and derivatives.  Ryan designed a poster for SustainUS protesting the Safi pollution, and SustainUS had an “action” (a die-in) in the green zone where OCP was touting its environmental consciousness at COP22.cop-protest-980x482

Ben Goloff '15, who is in Marrakesh with SustainUS, met with us on Wednesday, 11/16 to talk about their work, COP actions, and efforts to connect with environmental justice activists in Morocco. His colleague Ryan, also part of the conversation, talked about a couple of the EJ issues here, involving a silver mine pollution protest/shut-down/occupation at Imider and the loss of fish stock and local livelihoods due to serious water pollution issues