Day 3: COP21 Reflections on the Train

Loss and damage. That’s what I’m hearing around here now. Will concerns about compensating developing nations for losses and damages from climate change break the momentum at COP21? Will developing nations band together and stand up to demand a little help from the few nations who got rich while causing most of this trouble? And just where is all the momentum headed, anyway? Does it need to be broken? This is a constant conflict in my head. So many people here are abuzz with talk of “it feels better than COP15” and “there WILL be an agreement,” but I can’t help but wonder if this is all just more talk. Would you really trust an addict and/or abuser who kept telling for twenty years that THIS is the year they will get off their (oil) addiction? It certainly doesn’t come easily, and no one wants to play the fool. That said, I’m not getting the impression that we have a lot of options here. And that seems a bit strange. There are 40k people here who care passionately about solving the climate challenge, but through this formalized UN process we have somehow boxes ourselves into this rut of words, words, more words, and some 80 thousand fingers crossed that these words will, this year, after 20 years and countless empty promises, finally set us on a course to solve the climate crisis. You’d think we would have come up with more options than “show up and hope for a good outcome.” At times like this I wish I could get into the back rooms where the nitty gritty negotiations are literally taking place. Surely they are discussing more than just one main option? I don’t want to sound too cynical but I have a funny feeling that Machiavelli would be rolling in his grave if he knew about all the hope we have placed in politicians setting their personal/national ambitions aside for the common good. But Machiavelli never had to stare down a threat as monumental and comprehensive as climate change. Maybe world leaders will respond well this time. I’ll be watching. 


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