Today was Young and Future Generations day, as well as my first day at COP22. I heard the election results in the middle of traveling for over 24 hours to get to Marrakech. I entered my first day at the negotiations tired and upset, with feelings of hopelessness, devastation, worries, and embarrassment. What was I supposed to do if someone asked about the election? How would the U.S. negotiations change? I did not know where I stood or where the U.S. stood and I was still in shock at the results. It still does not feel quite real; it seems like a bad dream.
I entered the day feeling hopeless about what was ahead. I knew I needed to fight this and I knew I had to do something about it when I return home, but I had no motivation and did not even know where to start or what was possible. Entering COP22 with these feelings was hard, but ended up being exactly what I needed. Today was focused on youth and how their voices are vital to addressing climate justice and implementing the Paris Agreement. The first session I went to was all about youth voices and creating specific, feasible actions around the issues we care about. Every session today mentioned and discussed the results of our election on Tuesday.
At first it was hard to have the election brought up in every session and every conversation I had – a constant reminder was not what I wanted. But despite the continued surfacing of something that pains me so much, these conversations and sessions created the motivation and determination that I needed. The emphasis here was on youth power and how we involve youth to create change. Discussing the empowerment of youth and hearing about all the actions being planned to continue this necessary work being done to confront climate change, despite these new circumstances, created the motivation I needed to be able to go home and face this.
Before entering Youth and Future Generations Day at COP I did not know how or if I would be able to go home and face our new political reality in a positive way, but seeing the grief here being turned into the courage to fight made me ready to come home, to organize, and to do what I can to create a future that is safe for everyone and the environment.
*Originally published for Climate Generation: http://www.climategen.org/blog/the-determination-i-needed/