Thursday was one of our biggest days at the COP, and it went by so quickly that we were all surprised when the sun started to go down around 5pm. After staying at the venue until 11:30pm on Wednesday, we returned on Thursday morning to find out that the negotiators had met in “indabas” until 4am. We spent most of the morning poring over the text again, slicing and dicing it to understand how the compromises were being made. After a quick lunch (have we mentioned how delicious the food is here? Definitely the best-and most affordable-of any COP I have been to!), we attended a panel discussion with leaders from the EPA, DoE, USDA, and more about how the US is implementing the Climate Action Plan. We were then able to fit in a quick briefing to NGOs by the US delegation, one of our main sources of insights into how the closed-door negotiations are going and where the “landing zones” and ongoing points of contention are.
The highlight of the day for all of us was a meeting with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who sat down for a 45 minute Q&A session with about 25 US university students. While our discussion was off the record, I was very impressed by how genuine she was, and how honestly supportive she is of the youth in America’s role in spreading the message on climate change. She focused on the role of effective climate communications in uniting Americans behind climate change, and the fact that we need to find ways to make climate change relatable to everyone. Overall it was a wonderful opportunity to meet with a strong leader that all of us look up to.
The day wrapped up late once again as we waited for a new text to be released at a Comite de Paris meeting at 9pm. The negotiators are currently engaged in more indabas and bilateral negotiations, and we are hopefully for a new text Saturday morning!
Emma: What a day! Thursday started off with IUCN staff meeting. It is very informative, like always. And I feel I am learning more and more about civil society through the lens of climate change. The only event I attended this morning is poverty alleviation and climate change. A lot of questions lingering in my mind after the presentation … We had several back to back meetings in the afternoon. Talking to people who wrote our readings and designed our environmental policies still feels a bit surreal. While having dinner with a local journalist, he pointed to me french senator and prestigious scientist sitting around us. Plus, I finally saw SG Ban Ki-moon… Some parties proposed to hold COP every two years to reduce the carbon footprint. To be honest, I prefer the annual setting now. Because I want to come back so badly next year 🙂
Kait: Today was very exciting! The International Energy Agency (IEA) hosted a big energy debate in the climate generations area. They had some really amazing speakers participate like Sir David King, and Sir Nicholas Stern, as well as many others. The executive director of the IEA, Fatih Birol, opened the event and I had the opportunity to meet with him briefly and ask him some questions. Stay tuned for a blog post about it!
Oliver: As a confessed Clean Power Plan nerd, the highlight of my day was, of course, the surprise meeting with its main architects and champions: Gina McCarthy (Administrator of the U.S. EPA.) and Janet McCabe (Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation). We then rushed to a fascinating meeting with climate negotiations scholar Dr. Dan Bodansky – having read his articles since my freshman year of college, I may have geeked out a bit. A new text came out today as well, and I had the dubious honor of being first in line for hard copies among the mad hordes surrounding the document station!