COP22: My reflections, lessons learned and highlights from my first COP experience

In this blog the Fit For The Future Network Manager, Chloe Hampson, shares six personal reflections from this year’s Climate Change conference, where she joined the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) to represent the Network.

The United Nations 22nd Conference on Climate Change (COP22) officially closed on Friday. With negotiations completed more quickly than in previous years (Copenhagen famously went on until 1:30pm the following Saturday), countries have agreed to finalise the rules of the Paris Agreement by 2018 and have set out a roadmap on how to reach that deadline.

I was invited to join the INTO (International National Trusts Organisation) delegation in Marrakech and went out with two hats on – both to represent National Trust and to talk about Fit for the Future Network. With the dust now settling on the conference I have had time to reflect on my first COP experience.

  1. Making a hullabaloo about climate change is important. Firstly, I’m a little embarrassed by the cynicism conveyed in my blog on National Trust Going Green last Monday – one week on and I do see the importance of COP.  More than anything I realise how important it is to get together and remind ourselves that climate change is a major issue for politicians, business and civil society all over the world, and to send that united message out to everyone else too.
Activists outside COP22, 2016 ©Chloe Hampson.

Climate Change activists outside COP22, 2016 ©Chloe Hampson.

  1. Donald Trump’s recent election success in the United States has only made people more determined. There’s no doubt Trump’s election sent shock waves through the conference, but having a climate change sceptic as the head of one of the world’s leading economies seems to have only strengthened people’s resolve to reach their targets.  Australia, Japan, Botswana, Italy and Pakistan all joined the Paris Agreement days after the election and Senator of California has promised they will carry on pioneering low carbon solutions regardless of what the White House says. There is also mounting pressure from other key economies, as Chinese vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin stated in a press conference he hopes Trump ‘will do the right thing’.
China's Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin at COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

China’s Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin at COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

  1. The private sector has a major role to play. In a compelling speech, John Kerry (perhaps in a bid to reassure us all in light of the above) said that ‘the market place will dictate the future, not governments’. This statement was echoed by other CEO’s I saw during the week explaining their reasons for investing in sustainable energy makes ‘good business sense’. Two hundred countries, representing $4.8 trillion in market value have all committed to targets in line with science, including Wal-Mart, Mars Inc. and Ikea. Hoorah!  People are realising that the economy and environment come hand in hand.
  1. Other countries seem to be taking climate change more seriously than the UK appears to be, at least judging from their presence at Marrakech. Apart from a stand in the ‘Green Zone’ (which was open to the public) there was very little UK presence in the Blue Zone, the ‘official’ part of the conference. Most other countries had open pavilions which demonstrated their commitments and low carbon initiatives, along with a range of side events and talks for people to attend. Nothing from the UK and I saw few UK spokespeople represented in other events or panel debates (apart from people from the private sector). A reflection of the current leadership in the UK?
An excellent Brazilian fringe event at COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

An excellent Brazilian fringe event at COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

  1. Those in less developed areas are most affected by climate change. This may be obvious to everyone else but something that I have been ignorantly unaware of. COP22 was a real eye-opener for me and made me realise how UK-centric my understanding of climate change is. The Cayman Islands is an average of 7 metres above sea-level, the Marshall Islands would be underwater if the world got even just 2 degrees warmer and increasing amount of evidence shows that the Syrian crisis started as a result of global warming.
Malaysian Hill Tribe COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

A Malaysian Hill Tribe (and me!) at COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

  1. Communication is king. Approx 25,000 delegates, 200 nations in the negotiations and many more languages, cultures and communities represented (read another blog on cultural diversity). English was the common language spoken but the various methods and tools used to enable networking and collaboration were impressive. The most innovative was the ‘Poken’ – a way of being able to exchange information with another person/organisation or download slides from an event electronically.
The Pokens, COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

The Pokens, COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

Networking Moroccan style! COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

Networking Moroccan style! COP22 ©Chloe Hampson

Finally, many thanks to INTO and National Trust for the opportunity to go, it was an amazing experience.

This blog represents the personal views of Chloe Hampson, Fit For The Future Network Manager. 

If you’d like to find out more about the Fit For The Future Network take a look at the website – http://fftf.org.uk/

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