This year, I was fortunate enough to attend the Conference of Parties (COP), COP25, as part of the UW team.
I was one of the 27,000 delegates who attended this mega event on the fight against climate change, organized by the United Nations and initially hosted by Chile.
This year’s COP had a difficult start as Brazil backed out and then the Chilean government was unable to host the event due to the country’spolitical uprising.
However, considering the current climate crisis and urgent need to address climate change issues, Spain stepped in and decided to host the event in Madrid.
As an observer, I witnessed two very different sides of COP. The first from the global leaders’ perspective who were optimistic towards achieving their Paris Targets.
The second, from climate activists’ and youths’ perspective who showed their extreme anger by protesting and demanding climate justice and instant action.
One of the biggest protests I witnessed happened in the second week, outside the high-level event on climate action, where on one hand Mary McAleese, Ex-President of Ireland, one of the panelists, asked people to “get angry and get active!”
While on the other hand around 200 activists were de-badged from the COP for taking part in a peaceful protest against climate injustice.
Being part of the protest and barely being able to escape from UN security guards was horrifying and made me doubt our global leadership.
However, seeing all the action and listening to young activists made me proud of our youth who are actively working to combat it.
Greta Thunberg, in her speech at the COP rightly said, “there is hope, but it will not come from the government or corporations, it will come from the people.”
Being a graduate student, I followed various events on sustainable transport, impact of climate change on the job market, gender responsive climate actions and sustainable fashion, etc.
Attending these events gave me the impression that global researchers and policy makers are well aware of the scientific facts and the forecasts of climate change impacts.
However, there is a significant lack of implementation strategies and laying out strict timelines being laid out.
This year’s COP failed to meet its targets as politicians only made promising statements with no serious actions being taken to implement the Paris Agreement.
The UN Secretary General said during the concluding meeting, that COP25 was disappointing as the countries failed to showcase their increased ambitions to tackle climate change.
Canada’s minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, while addressing the Canadian delegation reception, spoke about how Canada is on the right path to combat climate change.
He ambitiously assured that Canada will achieve its Paris Agreement by 2030 while becoming carbon neutral by 2050 considering the country continue to invest in non-renewable energy.
Attending COP was a life changing experience for me as I realized how our individual lifestyle choices, from food habits to online shopping can destroy households in some parts of the world.
The key message I took from COP25, is that today we are more aware of our surroundings, the only thing we need is to use this knowledge and awareness to increase our ambition to fight climate change together.