My COP Experience

Climate change, climate justice, climate action – We’ve been hearing these catch terms all week and it’s all about the climate, but what do they really mean? What are we really doing about it? Despite having the Paris Agreement, are we doing enough to seriously tackle these issues?

So, Welcome to COP22. I am currently in Marrakesh, as part of the Federation of Young European Greens delegations attending the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) as well as the Conference of Parties “COP22” under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). I have been attending plenary sessions, negotiations and side events. I also had the opportunity to meet and discuss different issues with people all around the world, from China to Kenya to Germany  and it’s evident – we have a serious problem, and not one- many.

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This is not my first experience in a big conference but it is probably the largest conference I’ve attended and the first day of COP was slightly overwhelming until we got the agendas organised, but once I knew what I had to do and where I had to go then everything settled down. I am following different discussions throughout the days regarding climate change, agriculture and water, depending on the theme set out for the day. The negotiations which I have followed were purely observational and very technical but extremely informative. COP21 set the framework even though it proved to be slightly ambitious and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) is one of the topics which countries are challenged with along with transparency, global stocktake (referring to the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement), Loss and Damage and Capacity Building. COP22 is said to be the year of Action.

The venue is really nice and I must admit, it is decorated mostly using recycled items. Despite plastic and cans still being sold, most of the things we use are either made from paper or wood. The facade of Marrakesh pavilion is set up with wood pallets while the restaurants, chairs and tables are made from reprocessed wood.

The food is miserably over priced and despite us here advocating for food security as one of the many topics, there is so much food waste and so much meat. The food offered does not cater at all for vegetarians or vegans and is at least four times the price you would pay in the Medina. The welcome party on Monday night made me feel hypocritical. We are pushing change-driven ideas, coming up with innovative ways of tackling climate issues yet we are here luxuriously celebrating our presence and debating climate issues while other countries some of which are represented here, have families in their country living in poverty, with not enough food to eat, no drinkable water and roof over their head to sleep this evening. This is our reality and these are the issues which what need to be tackled. All this leads me to a big question – has this conference been sustainable or not? My quick and evident answer is No.

Back to the technical aspect of COP22 and the Paris Agreement; Marrakesh has been a historical moment for humanity but I am curious about so many other things. For example, how can we communicate the highly detailed Paris Agreement to the local citizens and insinuate small-scale changes to contribute to the wider perspective, when many are highly influenced by their culture and lifestyle? On the other hand, how can we stop large corporations from continuing to damage the environment due to their activities, when their interests are financial and/or political. Ultimately, how can we get our Governments to listen?

The Paris Agreement set the framework which ratifying parties promise to abide by in order to control the carbon emissions and the state of the environment. The Paris Agreement alone will not solve the problems we are facing and it is therefore the responsibility of Governments, stakeholders and the public to engage and take on responsibility for the decisions that we take.

Danika Formosa  – ADŻ International Secretary