Conclusions on the Climate Change Conference Published on December 22, 2015

A final dispatch from PDF Board member, Lori Goodman

I was fortunate that Peace Development Fund (PDF) provided me with the resources for me to attend the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Paris, France on November 28 to December 8, 2015.  PDF Board President, Teresa Juarez, and PDF partner, Mildred McClain from Savannah, Georgia, joined me.

We got to Paris two weeks after the mass shootings. There was heightened security, with cops walking in teams of six or more everywhere we went, as well as at the conference center. We rode the subway, train and bus to get to the conference and it took up to an hour and half, depending on what time you went. There were multiple long lines to get through before arriving at Generation Climate, the official building where all the side events were held.COP 21

However, once inside the center, the wait proved to be worth it. The presentations were great; people from all over the world were able to share a wealth of knowledge with each other.  It was impossible to attend all the events and/or presentations given that six to eight of them were simultaneously happening at the conference center and in the city. Therefore, I choose to focus on the indigenous peoples and renewable and sustainable energy efficiency presentations.

In general, the issues of indigenous peoples were the same as in the U.S.: their natural resources are exploited for fossil fuel development and are being stolen wherever they live in the world. This is utilized for the benefit of rich, developed nations. In the process, indigenous people are criminalized and killed when they get in the way of development of power plants, hydro dams, fracking, mining and timber cutting.

It remains to be seen if the voices of the people most impacted by climate change will impact the negotiating team at COP21 in reducing carbon emissions to two percent. The indigenous peoples of the world are sharing how their lands are disappearing from the rising ocean, droughts are destroying croplands, and moving sand dunes are displacing communities. Unchecked fossil fuel exploration and development are contaminating pristine, scarce drinking water sources in desert communities. The health impacts have been devastating, with respiratory problems, asthma and heart disease from coal fired power plants in the southwest U.S.  The indigenous people feel the brunt of climate change front and center.

This being said, the conversation that was held at COP21 was exciting to be a part of and it was an honor to meet the inspiring people that were there.

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