Dealing with climate change is a complex, global issue. It is undeniable that we have to drastically reduce our emissions in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C, but how we actually get there is far from simple. More than just the environment, climate change intertwines with social, economic, and technological factors. Every community, industry, and country must therefore collectively work together in order to achieve our one true target. In addition, we also have to deal with the consequences that are already happening now. Thus, the first step to dealing with climate change is recognizing that there are a lot of moving parts, and there is no magic solution that will fix all of the problems. We need to balance the interests of the people so that the costs and benefits are distributed evenly, and more importantly, ensure that no one gets left behind.

COP 27 made a breakthrough by announcing the agreement on the establishment of the first-ever Loss and Damage fund. Considering loss and damage has been a subject of conversation for several decades now, actually making progress is a huge deal. This doesn’t mean that the process that lies ahead will be any less gruesome. Dhruv Jhaveri, our student mentor for the UNFCCC class, pointed out that you cannot critique the process when you don’t know how it works in the place. We cannot ignore how difficult it is to set aside the conflicting interests of more than 190 nations to prioritize, let alone agree on, a singular issue. With that, I consider this a win.

We demand solutions from global leaders, but we often forget that we too can be part of the solution. My experience in COP 27 has made me realize that the negotiations isn’t the only place where we can make progress happen. The pavilions feature side events highlighting the progress of countries, organizations, industries, and people with their initiatives to push forward a greener world. Having the opportunity to attend these events myself and network with industry leaders, I am cognizant of the structural change that is actualizing right in this venue here. Despite several comments on how COP has evolved into a tradeshow, and how companies have been using COP as a platform to “greenwash,” I feel hopeful. Isn’t doing something, whatever the intention behind it, better than doing nothing at all? As a pragmatist, I believe that actions are more impactful than blind commitments.

The subject of the article aside, I do appreciate the noise. In order to raise climate awareness and ambition, we need to be loud in advocating aggressive actions and put pressure on companies and governments to prioritize the environment. But equally as important, we have to engage in insightful conversations and take action ourselves. Think about what we can learn from this. How can we do better? For some nations, energy access and poverty reduction have been understandably prioritized over environmental policies. For others, adapting to climate change is more time-pressing than mitigating actions. Needless to say, there is no cookie-cutter solution. Dealing with climate change just isn’t black and white. We need to develop our understanding of the complex and conflicting issues surrounding climate justice and come up with solutions that take every life into account.