It has been insightful to look back on my experience at week 2 of the COP after some time away and to appreciate both the international scale of accomplishments and the areas to continue negotiating. There were definitely moments throughout the week where you could sense the frustration from negotiators in the room and the critiques from Blue Zone attendees seemed overwhelming. There were questions as to how effective and impactful, particularly for climate-vulnerable communities, this process actually is. I felt myself sharing in that frustration that many of the moving and eye-opening conversations happening at the pavilions, particularly the Climate Justice Pavilion and the Resilience Hub, weren’t being heard by all of the negotiators. I wanted people’s stories and experiences to factor into more of the negotiations. It was striking that two pavilions, like the Climate Justice Pavilion and the We Mean Business Pavilion, could spend COP27 right next to each other but each serve seemingly entirely different demographics. People could go the entire conference never interacting with a subject matter that was the sole reason for someone else being there and never engaging with each other’s stories.
Despite divisiveness in the negotiations and the Blue Zone setup, I continue to be in awe of the magnitude of the COPs representing 192 countries and yearning for a safer and more just future. As we’ve discussed in our class, we have come so far as an international community since greenhouse gases were first discovered. COP27 marked an important two weeks of progress since that time period, one that ultimately gave me great hope. I had the opportunity to bear witness to incredible moments like the operationalization of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, the press conference on the Global Methane Pledge with a surprise visit from China’s special climate envoy, and the series of talks that I attended with speakers including Saleemul Huq, Farhana Yamin, Libby Schaaf, and Brenda Mallory. I found it similarly fascinating to analyze the decision texts on Loss and Damage that were released very early Sunday morning after the official end date of the conference. After following this topic and the negotiations so closely for the past months, knowing the outcome of COP27 for Loss and Damage was particularly exciting. There is still much left to do and I’m looking forward to engaging in this work after graduation. But the successes of this COP should not go underappreciated.
I want to conclude the semester by expressing my gratitude. This class, its community, and the opportunity to attend COP27 truly were among the highlights of my academic career at Duke and have inspired me immensely. I am unbelievably grateful to have been in this class with such wonderful TAs and faculty and engaged classmates. As Dhruv has emphasized, you have to understand the UNFCCC process to be able to critique the process and I credit this class for affording me the opportunity to do both of these things. Thank you!