Cop28 is over. The final text has been released, delegates are home, and my classmates and I are now Duke UNFCCC Practicum alumni. The day COP28 ended, someone in the researchers’ constituency group chat sent the link to this Guardian article about the winners and losers of COP28, and it seemed to sum up my own observations at COP pretty well. Among the winners: the fossil fuel industry and clean energy companies, and among the losers: scientists, youth… the climate. An interesting juxtaposition. 

I want to spend my last blog post reflecting on my experience as whole, on what I will say to people who ask what COP has been like, and on what will it take to actually fight climate change.  

First – what do I think about the agreements? It was disheartening to receive the news that fossil fuel phase out language was not included in the final document (although Luna’s blog brings up interesting points about translations and potentially celebrating incremental steps). It was also extremely frustrating to follow along with other scientists and researchers about the rocky negotiations regarding the Global Stocktake (GST), where the science was being misinterpreted, intentionally left out, and not acted upon. And this is all the more disappointing after spending the past week, after I switched with the second half of the Duke class on Dec 7, at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, surrounded by intelligent, passionate natural scientists who have dedicated their lives to understanding more about our planet and the impact we have had.  

The experience of attending even just part of COP28 in person has been crazy. I was in spaces that I have only dreamed about, listened to so many different talks about so many intersections within climate change, and learned from so many different people. Some of the most impactful sessions that I attended were those led by indigenous leaders and community members from regions around the world, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from them and hear their stories.  

I’ve been thinking about who’s voice was not being heard at COP, who was a COP28 loser because they couldn’t even be here or couldn’t enter this space successfully. Ceci’s post talks about the very high barrier to entry, and from the language to the cost of being here to the lack of opportunity to get a badge, there were so many people who are being left out. And in that same vein, there were a few people whose voices were amplified, the COP28 winners.  

So what is next? Where do we go from here? What has become so apparent to me is the need for a full-frontal, multilateral and vertical effort from all people to fight climate change. From scientists to governments of all levels to farmers to artists to civil society to private companies to everyone – we all must address climate change and we must work together to do so. Dania’s post asks if COP is even the right method to keep going, and no one has all of the right answers. The past two weeks I have been inspired and disillusioned, excited and frustrated, but most of all resolved. We must fight for climate  action, for climate justice, for an equitable and just transition, for accountability and responsibility, for science-based action, for a livable future. COPs will not be the only solution, but I hope we can keep building off of the momentum from COP28. The titles (and contents) of Katie’s posts are words that I want to end on: the importance of thinking about who or what does your work serve and that the work continues after COP28. 

My final, final words – thank you again to our fabulous TAs Ina and Gabriela and our incredible instructor Jackson. Biggest hugs to my wonderful classmates who clearly (from all of my links) inspire me and push me to think more and be better – I’m ending my COP28 experience with gratitude and passion because of you all.