I just got back from Marrakesh, Morocco, which is where the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP), or United Nations Climate Negotiations took place. I have had some time to reflect and think about what it all meant. It was the first COP since the Paris Agreement was created, signed, and entered into force. In some ways this COP was more important than the famous COP21 that took place last year in Paris, France because this was the first conference where countries were talking about the implementation of the agreement.
The conference started off strong, but then was quickly overshadowed by an unexpected election result, a Trump Presidency. To be honest, it knocked the wind out of everyone for a minute. Then on Friday night, the United States negotiating team had a meeting with all US non-governmental organizations. We talked about how we would work together, how we would fight, and how we would win. Then I realized there is a lot to be hopeful for when it comes to climate action, and it can only get better if we fight for it.
Where I see hope. 1) Even if Donald Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement, it takes 4 years for us to officially. 2) It would be foolish for him to do so because other countries may not agree to work on issues he care about like terrorism or trade. 3) Renewable energy costs are competitive, if not cheaper, than fossil fuels in many cases and we will build a renewable energy economy no matter who is in office. It would be bad for our economic stability not to. 4) There are more jobs in the renewable energy sector that the fossil fuel sector. 5) Alden Meyer, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, reminded me that “when waters rise from floods or sea level rise it does not care if you are republican or democrat.” Seventy percent of Americans believe in climate change, and 60% want government action on climate. We can build bipartisan support, and we will. 6) We are coming together to fight for a clean and healthy environment. The election divided us, but things like fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline will unify us.
Although I am hopeful, I also recognize the need to fight. This will not be easy, but our future will depend on it. You all better get ready to call your representatives, march in the streets, invest your dollars wisely and divest where necessary, run for office, and get involved in local politics. We need to be the change we want to see and no one will do it for us. Now more than ever we need to work locally to have a global impact. We need to act on climate.
(COP21- Sierra Student Coaltion, China Youth Climate Action Network. Photo Credit: Ashley Wineland)
Executive Director, Care About Climate