COP21, Me, and You

COP21, Me, and You

What you need to know about the United Nations climate change conference.

The world will be in Paris this December for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Its hope? To set a universal and legally-binding limit on climate change due to human-created greenhouse gas emissions. Universal because there are 195 members to the Conference of the Parties (COP), and legally-binding to compel nations by law to follow through with the agreement. There has never been such a global-scale motion to combat climate change.

Here is some context:

COP — the only broadly legitimate, international entity centered on climate change — is the product of an agreement made in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The convention was not legally binding and merely gave parties a framework by which to establish protocols to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. COP has met every year since 1992. This year's meeting will be its 21st, which is why it is called COP21.

The conference is also called CMP11 because it is the 11th Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997. Under the protocol, climate change mitigation commitments were legally binding but varied from nation to nation. Annex I countries, including the United States and European Union, committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Other nations such as China and India made no such commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. However, even for Annex I nations, the protocol could not have real effect without many nations ratifying it, and the U.S. never did pass it through Congress. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008 to 2012. The second period, which began in 2013, expires in 2020.

In order for the world to move forward on the issue of climate change, all nations must contribute to the movement. After a disappointing conference in Copenhagen in 2009, which was rushed and scattered (although it did produce an agreement for parties to curb global warming by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels), the nations met in Durban in 2011. They came up with the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action and a corresponding ad hoc committee (ADP), which would work for a universal, legally-binding agreement by 2015. The conference in Paris will be the culmination of that work.

Here are some facts about COP21:

COP21 will take place between November 30 and December 11, 2015, in the French capital. 40,000 people are expected to attend, including national delegates, observers, and civil society members. There is a lot of pressure: the imminent expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2020, the need for major polluters such as the U.S. and China to lead the world to an agreement about climate change, and the environmental catastrophes that will result from rising global temperatures of more than 2 degrees. A lot needs to change, and not the climate.

There is some hope that it will. As part of a bottom-up approach, each member nation has agreed to produce an intended nationally-determined contribution (INDC) with its goals for emissions reductions and climate change mitigation. In a landmark joint statement, the U.S. said it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, while China said its emissions would peak by 2030. Around 150 countries have submitted their INDCs so far, and a summary of the contributions will be written by Nov. 1. The idea behind this approach is to push each nation to come up with its own ambitious and feasible solutions, which will be evaluated when all nations come together.

Another major part of COP21 is an economic agreement that will mobilize $100 billion for climate change mitigation every year. This sum will come from developed nations as well as private and public enterprises starting from 2020, and there is already a Green Climate Fund with an initial capital of $10.2 billion. Through this economic plan, COP21 will support not only climate change solutions but also sustainable investment and development.

The most important part about COP21, however, at least for me (and hopefully for the world), is the broad involvement of all parties who have a stake in the issue of climate change. I do not mean just delegates of member nations; instead, I mean members of civil society such as representatives of NGOs, businesses, subnational governments, cultural organizations, and academic institutions. Yale will have its own delegation; I will be part of it.

Whether or not the conference will meet the high expectations the world has for it — the universal legally-binding agreement we hope will curb global warming — the leadup to COP21 has already brought the issue of climate change onto a global stage. Many nations have already submitted an INDC, and many delegations are already prepared to meet. But the real impetus for a new agreement on climate change comes from members of civil society like us. The more attention we pay to COP21's unfolding — the more we read the news, respond to it, and incorporate sustainability into our actions — the more pressure we will add to the conference's proceedings.

Cover Image Credit: COP21

Popular Right Now

4 Times I Took A Punch From My First Career Job

You need to take a few punches before you learn their strategy.

I took a job that felt like the next best thing. It offered more salary than I’ve ever made, more responsibilities than I’ve ever held, and the opportunity to grow in skill and status. An excited novice in the company, I began with bright eyes and the highest of hopes. This was my first job in a career that I had dedicated my entire college education in. I was willing to continue to learn, even though I felt more than ready to start applying my textbook knowledge.

Life never hits harder than when we think we show up prepared. Here are four things that punched me in the face of perception and helped me realize my own potential and value in a new workplace.

1. You are your own boss of success.

Be your own worst critic. Evaluate yourself and be attentive and faithful to integrity. Make a conscious decision to act in benevolence, and practice honesty and principle. Instead of taking the energy to formulate excuses, own up to failure or flaw and build off of it. If you want to succeed, manage yourself closely.

2. Ask questions to learn your way up.

Ask Questions. While you are training (and even after!) be that kid to raise your hand and ask the questions the rest of the students pretend to know. Let your brain be a dry sponge: observe, and soak in. Learn the systems to start out. Be that as it may, also do not assume the processes and functions in use are always the best. Make notes and don’t be afraid to want to improve systems once you are familiar with the ropes. Take advantage of being the fresh eyes.

3. Workout and sweat the insecurities.

When we put ourselves in different environments with different stimuli, we learn about ourselves in new ways. We find out what makes us uncomfortable. We figure out how we work most productively. We learn our strengths and weakness. Weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and insecurities are like parts of our body we need to strengthen with exercise and good posture! If we want to grow out of them we need to start lifting the weights that will build mass and cultivate ourselves into willing, innovative, and confident workers. I’m learning my strengths, but more importantly, I’m learning where I’m weak.

4. Be appreciative.

Thank the people who train and challenge you. I’ve never heard of anyone disliking appreciation; let your gratitude be the buffer between who you are/where you’re at and who you want to become/where you want to go. After all, Gertrude Stein said “Silent gratitude isn't very much to anyone.”

It only took a few punches, but I believe I’m better for it. I was scared at first, because I was taking the next step in my career. Working a position in my desired career was a huge challenge because I had not yet learned to apply my education to the real world, which is forcing me to learn patience with myself. It’s new and exciting and I always look forward to what tomorrow may bring.

Cover Image Credit: www.pexels.com

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Foreign: A Short Story

As the water drips down my body, I lean my head back so the flow of the water can gently rush on to my face. I attempt to open my eyes but the water overtakes my vision. And then I hear it.

“MOM!!!” I take my head out of the shower and in a moment of panic, I shout

“What? Is everything okay?” When I don’t hear their voices call back, I turn the knob of the shower and finish getting out. Wrapping the towel around me, I rush into the room.

“What’s going on in here?”

“Mom, tell her to give it back.”

In a teasing manner, she mimics him “tell her to give it back.”

“Stop, it’s not yours!”

“Guys! Stop! I haven’t even left to go to work yet and you two are already arguing! How am I supposed to leave you alone? And whose is that? Where did you guys get it? We can’t afford anything like that!” And then they do that thing, where suddenly I don’t understand my own children.

“Es porque te lo rejalo la novia verdad?”

“Deja me en paz, Y damelo!”

“Como se llama? Pa-ula… verdad?”

And then I can’t take it anymore… “STOP! Give me the game. None of you are getting it, and for the last time, we speak English in this house, you guys know I don’t understand you!”

“But mom—“

“But nothing, now tell me whose is this?”

“Carl has a new friend at school and she’s a gir—“

“STOP! She just let me borrow her gamegirl, no big deal!”

I begin to calm down. “Carl, I don’t want you borrowing anything from anyone at school. If you break it, we can’t replace it, so please give this back to her first thing Monday morning, understood?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Alright, now I’m gonna go get ready for work, I want you both in bed by 10.”

And then I wait for it… In unison they begin their choir of complaints, “but mom!”

“But nothing! Bed at 10, and I’m asking Mrs. Fernandez from upstairs to come down and check on both of you to make sure you're asleep!” Defeated, they agree.

As I go back into the bathroom to get dressed, my steps seem to get more sluggish every time I walk. I look at the clock on the wall and it reads 5:15, 5:15 and then I plead asking the clock not to change and then 5:16. In a little less than an hour I’ll be back at the gas station, cleaning off the gum from the doors of the restroom. Watching as truckers pass by saying things that are supposed to creep me out but only leave me asking what the words they were saying meant, and then it’ll be 3am and I’ll be home again.

I kiss my kids goodnight, hopefully not goodbye, and they promise to behave. I go outside and see the landlord on the porch sipping on her coffee.

“Hey Susan!” She says in her thick accent

“Hi Mrs. Fernandez. Enjoying the beautiful day I see.”

“Yes of course, going to your second job already?”

“Yes, I told the kids you’ll be down to check on them to make sure they’re asleep by 10.”

“Of course! Don’t worry about it, you stay safe. What time will you be home?”

“Around three.”

“Ay, Dios I’ll be praying for you! Good thing there is no school tomorrow so you don’t have to go to work.”

“Actually, I have to be there at 7am. The janitors have to clean the kitchen at the school since the inspector is coming on Monday.”

“Ahhh well mija, in this world we have to do what we can to survive.”

“Don’t I know it! Well, thank you again Mrs. Fernandez. Hopefully I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Si gringita! See you tomorrow!”

I walk to my car, each step forward feeling as though I took ten steps back. As I approach my car, I see an officer hovering right over it and so I run.

“Excuse me! No, that’s my car! Please don’t give me a ticket!”

“Perdon? Es que senorita no se puede estacionar aqui, alli esta el rotulo”

“I’m sorry, No puedo- hablar.. esapnol.” He sees me struggle to get the words out and with a face of disgust, he looks at me.

“You no espeak Spanish? This isn’t America! Learn Spanish! I will let you out with a warning pero, the sign esays no parking okay?”

“Si senor, I’m sorry.”

And then he talks into his walkie and leaves. As I get into my car and turn on the ignition, I begin to drive as quick as I can. I look at the clock and it reads 5:45. As I turn into the gas station, I park the car in a secluded place and I close my eyes. As I feel the tears run down my face, I remember being back home in New York. The year was 2019, Carl and Kristin were only five years old at the time.

“Honey! Are you still asleep? I dropped the kids off at school, you should of seen their faces. They were so excited about their first day of kindergarten!”

“Babe, we need to talk.” It surprised me that he was already up and dressed. Usually he doesn’t get up until I have to leave to the clinic to meet my first patient of the day.

“Everything okay?”

“I got drafted.”

“What? But, I don’t understand I thought you weren’t likely to get drafted?”

“I know but there is so much going on and they’re trying to take anyone they can get.”

I took a deep breath. I understood that this wasn’t our choice and besides, he always comes back. He must have seen the worry in my face because then he adds, “but, don’t worry everything will be okay, I always come back.”

“Yeah, you better,” I say as lean my head on his chest.

“Can’t you take the day off? Let’s go do something just you and me!” He says

“Honey, I have a bunch of patients and you know I don’t get paid like I used to. We already lost our first house, we can’t lose this one too.”

“I know. Things are going to get better, don’t worry.” I laugh and then he laughs and for a moment it feels as though nothing is wrong. And then I look at the clock on the T.V. stand and it reads 10:00am.

“Well I don’t have my first patient until 1. What do you say I make us a big breakfast and we eat on the couch as we watch cartoons?” I ask in a convincing way

“This is why I love you,” he responds

As I’m cooking we’re both talking and laughing and he decides to turn on the radio.

“Let’s see if I can find any of the classics on here.”

“Honey, you could just put on Spotify or something.”

“Now you have been hanging out around the kids too long. Come on, the radio’s static noise brings back memories. Remember, when we used to hang out after school and listen to the radio until your mom called, yelling for you to get home?”

“Yeah, and that’s why my parents didn’t like you at first.”

And then our song comes on. As we’re singing along, we get interrupted.

“This just in. New attacks have been reported on parts of New York and New Jersey. We advise all residents of these two states to please remain alert of any attacks, and to not let anyone you do not know into your home. This has been a message from the U.S. federal government. Any further questions please visit us at www.-

And then he gets that call. “I have to take this, turn that off and try to relax before work.”

I nod, then go to the television and turn it on. I think about the twins, but then I remember they’re safe, the guards are all around the school. As soon as the T.V turns on, I regret ever looking. There were a lot of things I regretted that day. The gunshots on the television are so loud that it feels as though it’s coming from outside and then I realize it is…

My phone goes off and just like that, I’m back to reality. The days that followed were even more intense. My husband left and said goodbye for real this time and I kissed him on the lips not knowing it would be the last time. I took the kids to Texas to see my mother and even she told me that running away was the best option. We were always afraid to step foot outside and the kids had to stop going to school. I knew that if I left I would never be able to see my family again but I also knew that my children didn’t have a future there. We left, we left and seven years later we haven’t returned.

I scrape the gum off the floor and hear footsteps come closer and closer.

“Mira quien es, la gringa” I try to ignore him and then he kicks me.

“I’m talking to you, vieja tonta regresa a tu país, nadie quiere alguien de un país podrido”

And I knew this was just the beginning of our worries and this was going to be our new norm, because truth is I don’t belong but, I will keep fighting because my children do. As he walks away and goes back into his truck I release the tears and they gently run down my face. País podrido. Rotten country. The truth hits me and although I shouldn’t, I feel offended but what else can I do?

After that, the gas station is quiet and I hear the static noise of the radio and then our song comes on, but this time I don’t sing along.

Cover Image Credit: https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/04/29/immigration-detention-center_wide-cee013baaa0e724d9f5c333e1bc458f305c1d303.jpg?s=1400

Related Content

Facebook Comments