I am currently sitting on a train back to Frankfurt, not entirely sure how to begin to process the last week and a half. After countless brötchen (little bread rolls), meetings, and conversations with people from around the world I leave feeling filled, yes both intellectually and physically from the entirely bread and cheese based diet I have adopted for the past week.
Here are some highlights!
#1 As I mentioned in my previous post, by some mistake I was promoted to head of the organization that had generously accredited me a pass into the side events. However, this promotion also allowed me access into the Bula Zone AKA the zone where the negotiations take place. While I couldn’t get into very many events I was able to sit in on a revision session of Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, which deals with mitigation. In all honestly, I understood very little of the paragraphs that were being reviewed, but I was able to observe the negations process in all its glory and frustration. They aren’t kidding when they say that an hour can be spent discussing whether or not to change one word to essentially its synonym. As tedious as the negotiation was it was fascinating to get a look into how intergovernmental relationships and decisions unfold. If you have every participated in model united nations, it is EXACTLY like that, but real life.
#2 I loved walking through the conference, or from one building to another, or sitting on the train next to delegates from ALL over the world. It was not uncommon to engage in a conversation only at the end to find out that they were they head delegate from some country. It was humbling and inspiring to be amongst the world’s leaders on climate change, and not just in the same building, but conversing with them.
#3 I was fortunate enough to spend the day shadowing Katherine Neebe ’97 the Director of Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement for Walmart. The day started with a meeting with Mars discussing scope 3 (emissions that are not directly owned by a company, but part of the supply chain) counting methods. Katherine spoke about Walmart’s gigaton project, which is a scope 3 emissions target, leading the way for large corporations. The day included another panel and prep for more panels the next day. The best part of the day, were the side conversations that I was able to witness. They ranged from people trying to get involved with Walmart’s efforts, to old colleagues trying to support each other’s new projects. And while many of the people were coming from large corporations, the issues they were talking about were so grounded, real, and pertinent. The issues on the table have every day impact on people, society, and the environment and these big countries see their magnitude as an platform to make large scale change. The day ended with a dinner, in which the conversation was passionate and genuine about how I can best bring what I have learned at the conference back to the CC campus, but more on that later…
^This is a photo with the entire group and three Colorado College Alums that were also attending the conference, Matt Banks (WWF), Katherine Neebe (Walmart), Lucy Kessler (Yale Grad Student).
It’s been an incredible trip! Thank you to everyone that made it possible and major shout out to Herr Doktor Professor!