By Madelin Strupitis-Haddrick, University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
By day three at the COP, we woke up to a sombre mood in the air, with the US election results being finalised as the sun rose over Marrakech. Arriving at the conference venue, we attended a press conference where members of US NGOs shared their reactions to the presidential election and their expectations of the impacts on global climate action. Whilst this featured much uncertainty, there was a sense of cautious optimism that the global momentum we have seen increasing since the lead up to the Paris climate conference would continue: climate change impacts are leading to public concern; businesses are increasingly investing in low/zero-carbon technology; and, as we have seen these past weeks in Australia, state governments are demonstrating their capacity and willingness to move towards renewable sources of energy.
As such, the hardworking policy advisers, NGO members and delegates from all over the world pushed through in a slightly faltering swirl of suits and coloured badges. Meetings with former Special Envoy for Climate Change, Howard Bamsey; Senior Advisor to UN Secretary-General on Climate Change, Janos Pasztor; and the Carbon Market Institute’s Brad Kerin, provided us with unique insights into climate financing, geoengineering and businesses’ role in reducing emissions.
After two days marvelling at Global Voices’ ability to organise meetings with fascinating policy experts, we delegates began to follow suit, with Sam arranging an engaging meeting with the CEO of Climate Analytics, Dr Bill Kane. The UNFCCC took the chance to highlight the role of youth, with Young and Future Generations Day drawing attention to the strong presence of youth at the conference. Young people from across the world united in the need to secure a stable climate for our common future.
As night fell on a rather shadowy day, we lightened our spirits by passing a friendly evening with youth delegates from NZ and Europe. Amidst the international mosaic of people who attend COP from all corners of the world, we enjoyed a Moroccan feast overlooking the mosque in the main square in Marrakech.
Awakening to another day of meetings, group briefings, and meandering our way through NGO stands and country pavilions, we were greeted by heartening news: Australia had ratified the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. Amidst the uncertainty following the US election, this clear commitment was a promising sign of international perseverance in combatting climate change; a much needed ray of hope.