From Copenhagen to Cancun: Hasta la Vista Cancun

Joanna MacDonald

I’m leaving on a jet plane and don’t know when I’ll be back to COP again…but want to offer some final thoughts. It has been strange to be outside the conference center for the second, and naturally more exciting, week of the COP. Sitting in the hostel, feeling relaxed and calm while working away at my computer, and heading out once in a while to pick up food is totally different from the experience some of my fellow CYDers are having racing around the conference center from meetings to actions and grabbing some food when they have a chance. As much as I miss the excitement, being on the outside has afforded me time to reflect about CYD, COP (conference of parties), and the climate change problem in general. Allow me to explain…

First of all, having another chance to be part of the CYD again this year was awesome. As part of this team I am able to contribute to an influential group. Knowing that my work makes a difference at the international level is hugely inspiring. Learning from one another is also extremely rewarding! I’m happy to announce that my twitter and blogging skills have exponentially improved thanks to the social media experts on our team! If you are even the slightest bit interested in getting involved with climate change on the national or international stage then don’t hesitate to get in touch with the CYCC (I know…shameless plug for the CYD).

The COP is a little less inspiring. As I watch the COP unfold before my eyes I’m not surprised by the lack of progress that has been made or the barriers that continue to get in the way (one being the Canadian government). This time last year as the Copenhagen conference ended there was an outburst of disappointment, anger, and despair in response to the failed process. I will be the first to say that the process is definitely flawed and I am still unsure that parties will ever be able to come to an agreement in time. However, this is all we have at the international level and so I will keep putting my time and efforts into the process and keep pushing for more from our leaders. However, as I set off to go back home tomorrow, I leave knowing that I did everything I could do and will move forward from this international experience to bring it to local initiatives.

Climate change is a complicated web of a problem with interconnections to every aspect of our lives from health to spiritual well-being. When I think about the predictions of what is to come if our planet keeps warming and what is to come even if we start taking serious action now, I can feel tremendously worried, helpless, and depressed. However, I once read somewhere that you can only hold one clear thought in your mind at a time and so I choose to make it a positive one. For example, I know that all the initiatives I am part of at home make a difference at the local level and can reach out to get more people involved. Being a member of the group trying to get bottled water off my campus is one way I can make a big difference. Working with younger students to engage them on climate change issues and involve them in their communities is another way I can help to make a better planet. So in the face of climate change, I look to the small but significant successes and efforts in my daily life.

Someone once told me that the journey is the reward and so even though I won’t stop fighting for climate justice and contributing all I can to the environmental movement, I recognize that the moment is what matters and what I will remember. I cherish the past two weeks, an awesome experience, despite whatever the outcome will be in the next 48 hours. As this is my last blog I wish you all happy holidays – enjoy spending time with family and friends because that is what counts the most – and thank you for all your support and help as we continue to call out our government, and governments around the world, to lead and act now for the sake of Mother Earth!

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