Suitcase of Change: The Travel Blog of a COP18 Youth Delegate

This blog is a living, breathing documentation of an ecofeminist youth delegate's experiences leading up to and at the UNFCCC's Climate Negotiations in Doha, Qatar

Month: December, 2012

From One Oil State to Another.

Here I sit, right where I began in Texas. My journey from one oil state to another has shaped the way I see the world.

Right now, I can say that I’m experiencing some slight reverse culture shock. Why are women showing so much skin when it’s this cold outside? I don’t hear car horns blaring at all hours of the day or the prayer songs from a dozen mosques playing 7 times a day (it’s eerily quiet at night when I try to sleep). There are Christmas decorations everywhere and pictures of the Emir are nowhere to be seen (I don’t think most people in Texas know that an Emir is, even.)

After not having driven my car for over a month, it’s odd to have to freedom to drive myself around once again. There are traffic lights, stop signs, and street names. Doha’s traffic circles, nameless streets, and camel-mounted police seem so long ago, and yet it was only a few days ago.

Jet lag has taken it’s toll again, but this time I am in my own bed surrounded by the comfort of my loved ones. Overall, COP made me think quite a bit about my privilege. I may not be able to enter negotiations with a pink badge, but by meeting with my negotiators I am able to influence not only the happenings within my own country- but within others as well. As a U.S. citizen, my voice directly impacts the climate because of my country’s wrong-doings. I think that I, as well as everyone else in my country, should take away from this COP that we are working on a strict timeline- Climate change will not spare island nations while we discuss the proper adverb in one of many treaties. We need to ACT and we need to ACT NOW.

What could the future look like if everyone got involved? We need to REALIZE that the time for action is not when we start to really feel the impacts of climate change (I would argue that we’ve already felt it enough).

That We Need Climate Action Now!

That We Need Climate Action Now!

Until next time: Aloha, Doha.

The Show Must Go On: KP Comes to a Close

The Closing of the first commitment of the Kyoto Protocol has been marked today, December 6, 2012 in Doha, Qatar. While not all parties are happy with the text, the main thought process seemed to be that any kinks could be ironed out within the second commitment period and outlined at intercessionals.

The Philippines said it best:

“The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.
I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want.
I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”

For now, Aloha from Doha.

COP19: Poland= Coaland?

It was announced on Wednesday, November 28, that the host country for COP19 is going to be Poland. Just as this year’s COP(18) is being held in an oil state, Qatar, we have to wonder how a country whose industry is dependent upon dirty fossil fuels (a.k.a. COAL) are being granted the opportunity to host the meeting of parties from around the world “working” together to mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Most of the work I’ve done at home has been centered around moving the United States Beyond Coal, so the fact that climate negotiations will be held essentially on the battle ground makes me rather unsettled, just as the influence of oil has been seen in this session of negotiations (what are you doing on the escalator in front of me, man from BP?)

Thoughts, world?

Where Are All the Women?

Not only is it a rare occurrence to see women walking down the streets of Doha, but within the negotiations, as well. Out of all of the nations represented here at the COP, only approximately 36% of official delegates and negotiators are female-bodied (a slight increase from the average 17%). Numbers from this specific conference are pending, numbers cited are from COP17 and Bonn/Bangkok Intercessionals. 

November 27 was officially “Gender Day” at COP18. Many sessions throughout the day were centered around discussion about how women are disproportionately impacted by climate change, that there isn’t enough female representation within COP negotiations from each country delegation, and that the voices of women need to be more strongly heard on multiple levels of political participation.

To frame this day, let me give a quick background. I am an Environmental and Feminist Studies double major who focuses on environmental justice. Equity, however you want to define this word, is something that I see to be crucial to creating solutions to climate change. My role, as I see it, at this COP is to learn. For those of you who don’t know much about the UNFCCC, there are currently 7 subsidiary bodies this session. None of these bodies are headed by women.

At an event later in the day called “Gender and Climate Innovation: Breakthrough changes for gender equality” which featured two women whom have inspired me during my time here at COP, Mary Robinson (the first female President of Ireland) and Christiana Figueres (the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC) and the extraordinary Minister Alcinda Abreau of Mozambique.

Gender Innovation Panel.

Gender and Climate Innovation Panel.

At this panel, the ladies (who decided amongst themselves that they were all to be called “Mama”) were asked why they were passionate about COP and international climate change. Mama Christiana said that what keeps her motivated to fight climate change is her two daughters. She said,  “I know that whatever we do or whatever we don’t do will affect their quality of life, their children, their children, and 7 generations after that. What keeps me up at night is the eyes of 7 generations of the future looking back at me and asking what did you do? We are the first generation who knows what we are doing… this gives us a moral responsibility to do something… we cannot continue to do this to the future generation. They did not contribute to this. We need to do this particularly for children in developing countries and those that are most vulnerable to climate change.” This is one of the many reasons why I adore Christiana Figueres.

Later in the panel, a question was asked, “Do you think that COP18 will be known as ‘the gender COP’?” to which the answer was, “I certainly hope not, because then that would mean that there was only one!”

There are many reasons why, however, this COP is making waves and opening new opportunities for women to have more equal representation within this body of the United Nations. This session, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) approved a draft proposal detailing the implementation of gender balance principles that were proposed at COP7 in Marrakech.  It seems like a long time coming and is definitely a victory for women and climate justice! The work is obviously not over here. Many women can be given a spot on delegations, but will they be the ones to speak? Will they be able to make decisions? Moving forward, this is a great foundation for increasing women’s participation in the negotiation process and I am proud to say that I was a part of making this difference by participating in the women’s caucus here at COP and making suggestions to the draft proposal. This isn’t all that was done, however, but more on that later.

Teaser: Gender Balance Action Post to Come!

Teaser: Gender Balance Action Post to Come!

For now, Aloha from Doha.

Byline? Skyline.

Every evening, I have a long hour and a half to two hour long bus ride back from the QNCC (conference center) and my hotel. In the event that I am not sitting next to anyone, or anyone who would like to talk, this is my go to song:

“I got, got to get

Get my head back on

I got, got to get myself together

When this hurt is gone

I got, got to get myself together
I got, got to get

Can’t tell what’s going wrong

I wish there’s something could be done
I’m not that clever.”

There’s something remarkably soothing about zoning out, thinking of nothing, and just taking into the twinkling city lights of Doha. No thoughts of negotiations. No conversation about world problems. Nothing but my fellow Swede and I gettin’ ourselves together.

Doha nights.

Doha nights.

For now, Aloha from Doha.

Drafted December 5th, 2012 

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