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The world moves forward

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP22 in Marrakech.]

This is my 8th consecutive Conference of the Parties (COP) on climate change.  As I have observed the UNFCCC negotiations for the past few years, I have experienced the turmoil of Copenhagen, the salvation at Cancun, the Goundhog Day pace in Doha, and the celebration in Paris.  I arrived in Marrakech from Philadelphia, after the US national election and the National Communication Association conference.  I wondered how the prospect of a Trump US Presidency would affect work at COP 22.

Certainly people here are aware of the US election outcome, but many people I have talked with are moving forward, with or without the US federal government's full commitment and participation.  I experienced this poignantly yesterday, ""Africa Day.""  I attended a number of side events that featured projects on the African continent, particularly sub-saharan Africa.  Many African nations are among the least developed and most vulnerable; they produce little greenhouse gas emissions but bear much of the brunt of global warming.  Consequently, they are focusing on adaptation and cross-cutting issues such as capacity building.  They are identifying what needs to be done to deal with climate change impacts, from changes in rainfall to shifting agriculture patterns to climate refugees to sea level rise.  They recognize the importance of climate empowerment; education, participation, and women in leadership roles.

I was heartened by the pragmatism and optimism of these projects, funded generally through developed country-based donors (government and NGOs) and UN programs.  As I make my year-end charitable contributions, I will send money to those NGOs working with in-country partners in developing countries on climate change projects.  I will look for other ways to contribute.

After one of the side events, I complimented a participant from Ghana on his work there.  He said to me, ""we are saddened by the US election outcome, but the US is but one country, and the world does not revolve around it.""

So true.  With or without the US federal government, nations and the global community move forward to manage climate change and strive for the 1.5 to 2.0 goal.  As environmental communicators, regardless of our home country, we need to be active, pragmatic, and optimistic.  We can act through NGOs and at the sub-national level (like the sub-nation of Pacifica: Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington).  In the USA, one can lobby elected officials to remain fully committed to the Paris Agreement.  In countries supporting the rest of the world (that is, everyone), one can advocate for a nation's increased investment to thwart climate change; to reduce GHGs, to adapt, and to address the needs of the most vulnerable.

About the Author: 

Gregg Walker is the Chair of IECA's Climate Negotiations Working Group and a Professor at Oregon State University.

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