November 20, 2013

COP 19

My life has been in flux all fall, and clearly my blog has been given a small vacation. But no fear, it has not left my heart and thoughts!

This morning I just want to address a few quick things.

First of all I have been working on a Kickstarter campaign that will be up and running very shortly. I am pretty excited about it and hope all my readers check it out!

Second, mostly unrelated, it is my brother’s birthday today! (This is a cheerful prep for the third thing…)

Third, from everything that I have read and heard so far, COP 19 might just end as disappointingly as the previous 18 and others. For you who do not know, COP 19 stands for the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)….A mouthful right? It is basically an intergovernmental meeting with the purpose of agreeing on actions to combat, mitigate, adapt, and face climate change. So far, they have actually done pretty much nothing to combat or even mitigate climate change, and environmentalists around the world hope each year that they will come to a binding international agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions and hopefully avoid catastrophic climate change and tipping points that might take climate change out of our hands and beyond our ability to deal with it.

Just like the beginning of COP 18 in Doha, Qatar, this year the COP commenced as a serious Typhoon hit the low-lying nation of the Philippines. This year Super Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda as it is referred to in the Philippines, hit land with unmatched intensity. So far it is the second deadliest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines. In the days after the storm hit, it was postulated that it was the strongest storm ever to landfall in recorded human history.

SuperTyphoon Haiyan

What is even more serious is that many prominent and reputable political and climate professionals are linking the severity of Haiyan to climate change. What more obvious message do our “climate leaders” need to pass significant and meaningful actions on climate change? At least some of our representatives understand and are ready for action.

Survivors of Haiyan still in need

Naderev Madla Saño, more commonly known as Yeb Saño, is the Commissioner of the Philippine’s delegation to the UNFCCC. At COP 18, after his country experienced a destructive typhoon, he gave a moving speech calling for climate action and not to delay any longer. Watch his here speech, it is very moving:
In his speech he asks, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”

Yeb Saño at COP 19

A year later his questions have not been answered. As he traveled to Warsaw, Poland for the COP 19 another devastating typhoon hit his country. At the opening of the climate negotiations Yeb addressed the parties again. This year again asking his pointed questions and pleading with the nations gathered to “end the madness”.  : In his speech he also vowed to fast for the remainder of the climate summit until significant action was taken to combat emissions and address climate change.

On Tuesday evening when I was reading the news and listened to Saño’s speech I was so moved by his presentation and actions that I decided to stand in solidarity with him and fast. Knowing myself, I knew that to maintain my two jobs and finish my Kickstarter I would need to eat some, but I vowed to skip a meal each day symbolically standing with him and indeed all people around the world already negatively affected by climate change. I emailed him telling him what I was doing and thanking him for his dedication and leadership. As it turns out, I was not the only one who was moved to take action in solidarity with Saño. People from around the world as well as delegates at COP 19, including US negotiator Collin Reese are also fasting in solidarity. started #WeStandWithYou petition demanding climate action, which Saño presented to the conference with over 600,000 signatures on Tuesday, November 19.

Yeb Saño and others presenting #WeStandWithYou at COP 19

People from around the world, including young activists in Warsaw are being heard and then ignored and shut out. While young activists are being shut out of the conference area, the International Coal conference also took place in Warsaw. Is this a joke? You are not the only one scratching your head at the irony. Greenpeace in their typical tactics unfurled a banner on Poland’s Ministry of Economy building where the coal conference was taking place. Not to mention their Cough for Coal lungs getting paraded around.

I could go on and on. There is a lot happening, but I wanted to address at least part of it. I am an optimist, but like many climate activists around the world, we are starting to get disgusted and fed up with the lack of action on the part of our representatives. Yes international and intergovernmental agreements are hard; we do not think they are not. But at this point, the lack of action and dedication to what they are supposedly there to do is simply disgusting. In the end, I know that we will persevere and find a way to address climate change and flourish, but my question is how much longer do we have to wait for our governments to catch up with the views of the people? How many more lives must be lost, how many more children must starve? How many more species mush be lost? How many more forests dried and burned, crops lost, communities destroyed?

If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?