The Final Day at COP16

Two Atlantic College students, Laura and Lindsay, are attending the COP16 conference in Cancun. They have kindly allowed United Words to publish their blog entries from before, during and after the conference. The original entries can be found on

 Laura Emily Rigell (USA, AC 09-11), Lindsay Riddoch (Scotland, AC 09-11)

December 10
Knowing what to do during the last days was a challenge.  The meetings where decisions were being made were all closed to observers.  So I spent most of my morning waiting for plenaries to begin, they were repeatedly delayed for a few hours at a time, because negotiations were not yet complete.

In my desperation to act, I printed out some more papers from the Climate Action Network about the gigatonne gap and gave them all away to delegates.

At one point, while waiting in a plenary, I helped Lauren from the Sierra Student Coalition with rapid response.  I began frantically contacting every US citizen I know, asking them to call the US State Department and demand the US to follow-up on their financial commitments and to put 1.5 degrees as the upper limit for temperature rise.  I’m still not sure whether these were achieved, but I will let you know when I find out.

I then headed with Lauren to the other building at moon palace to catch a plenary (that did actually happen).  On our way, we came across the YOUNGO (youth) action which was finally happening.  I had been hanging around with the intention to participate at 3:00 when it should have started, but because they were waiting to have approval from the secretariat it didn’t start until around 4:30.  The action was counting to 21,000 (the number of deaths attributable to climate change in the first 9 months of this year according to Oxfam) and holding a banner that said “Climate Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.”  When I showed up, they were above 3,000 but had passed the one-hour time limit.  I watched as UN security shoved them onto a bus, which was met by screams of “Shame on You.”

You can read more about it here:’
After the bus had driven away, I went inside to the plenary.  Nothing significant was announced beyond their intention to reconvene at 8pm and work into the night until they reached an agreement.  When Espinosa finished speaking, she was given a standing ovation (for about 3 minutes) in honor of how well she has conducted this process.   I then went to a press conference being put on by youth downstairs. Aneight-year-old boy who had led a tree-planting project (of I think 300,000 trees recently here in Mexico) stood up to talk about the tree-planting.  But he had been moved by the action and had to step down from the microphone in tears.

After finding some of my delegation, I got on the shuttle back to our apartment.  We went to the beach to celebrate Valida’s birthday.  I think we are all glad to be out of the conference center and beginning our next journeys.

-United World Colleges Student Magazine-


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