Hello from COP! 

After almost 20 hours of travel and the much-needed ‘COP rest day,’ I am here at the venue with the Duke week two cohort. 

One of my first reflections is that I am so grateful for the U.S.’s Clean Air Act! Trying to go on a run yesterday was a slight fail because I didn’t realize how bad the air quality in Dubai would be. The PM2.5 levels have been around 160-180. 

Having been forced to evacuate my home state of Oregon in 2020 due to potentially fatal levels of air pollution after climate-induced wildfires, I carry a lot of trepidation and fear about the health impacts of poor air quality.

According to the New York Times, the COP venue “Expo 2020” is situated only “11 miles away from the largest natural gas power plant in the world.” Every COP delegate that rides the metro to the venue will be highly aware of this fact, since the metro passes right by its sprawling and haze-covered infrastructure.

As my client for this course, I am unofficially supporting the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. They had a small team on the ground during week one, but not week two, so they were receptive to my offer to help take notes on climate mobility, migration, and displacement topics. To do so, I’ll be attending events at the Mobility Pavilion, and writing a short report post-COP. I hope to share stories, civil society insights, and examples of other governments’ national policies on climate mobility that I come across.

I am interested in mobility because I believe it is an important nexus in which the other issues I care about (gender justice, technology ethics, national security, etc) come into play. Knowing that by some analyses our world may have 1.2 billion climate migrants by 2050 (IEP) only solidifies my urge to prepare for a future in which we will all be touched by these issues.

Outside of client work, I also hope to keep track of the negotiations. This may be difficult because there are so many draft agreements, and as the days go on, meetings become “closed” and accessible only to high level officials and ministers. But I’ll try!

I’m passionate about multilateralism. Having served as youth delegate on the U.S. govt delegation to the U.N. gender conference (CSW67) this March, I learned a lot about how the U.S. negotiates and why non-binding agreements can be impactful. Little bits and pieces of understanding from this experience (for example: why the U.S. is rarely the first country to speak on a given paragraph, or how the residing Presidency shapes agreements by choosing to be more or less hands on) are front and center in my mind as I attempt to adjust to the COP way of doing things.