Despair, lack of progress in climate negotiations, but hope is blooming

An Egyptian boy reads a note posted on an artificial tree set up for people to hang a note saying what pledge they will make to help fight climate change, in the green zone of the United Nations Climate Summit COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Friday, November 18, 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

It is a desert, where little grows. It’s a climate conference, where water is scarce inside and outside buildings, queues are long, tempers are short, meetings are late, and above all, progress is being made. drop by drop.

Yet hope springs up in the strangest places.

Not in the naïve new face, but in the hearts and minds of activists and veteran public servants, who have been through this frustrating exercise in sleep deprivation, not once or twice but many times.

And it blooms in an eerie metal “tree” sculpture in a central plaza here at the UN climate summit in Egypt. People write their hopes on sheets of green paper.

“Hope is the only sense (sic) that makes us ALIVE!” Mohamed Ageez, a young Egyptian activist wrote.

Former US Vice President Al Gore looks back over 30 years of climate change efforts and sees hope in progress and change. The director of the United Nations Environment Program, Inger Andersen, and the chief scientist of The Nature Conservancy, Katharine Hayhoe, see it in everyone in the hardworking hallways.

And Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate secretary who helped forge the 2015 Paris accord and then launched a nonprofit called Climate Optimism, sees hope not as a name but as an action verb.

“Hope is a verb with rolled up sleeves,” Figueres told The Associated Press, quoting poet David Orr. “I think hope and optimism are very active and are in fact precisely why we are rolling up our sleeves.”

Despair, lack of progress in climate negotiations, but hope is blooming

An Egyptian woman posts a patriotic message on an artificial tree set up for people to hang a note saying what pledge they will make to help fight climate change, in the green zone of the UN Climate Summit COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Friday, November 18, 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

When asked how he didn’t despair after watching heat-trapping emissions rise the following year, Gore told the AP, “Despair is a big word. You know, they had the used to say that denial is not just a river in Egypt Egypt and despair is not just a tire in the trunk It is a real factor But we also have the base of hope .”

He pointed to several political victories this year.

“In August, the United States passed the biggest climate legislation in history,” Gore said. “In September, the people of Australia made a historic change and agreed to be part of the global leadership in renewable energy. And then in October, just a few days ago, the people of Brazil made the decision to stop destroying the Amazon and start fighting the climate crisis.”

“When people feel vulnerable to climate desperation, I urge them to look at the real progress that is being made.”

Whenever United Nations Environment Officer Andersen feels depressed at these meetings, she takes note of what is going on all around her in the pavilions and offices: “In these halls you will see people huddle around solutions rather than networking, saying, ‘Here’s what we’ve done. can do that’.”

Climatologist Hayhoe finds hope in the same place.

Despair, lack of progress in climate negotiations, but hope is blooming

Visitors to the Green Zone read notes posted on an artificial tree set up for people to hang a written pledge of what they will do to help fight climate change, during the UN Climate Summit COP27 , in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

“So when people say it was a complete failure and there’s no hope, I’m saying, just look at every face here,” Hayhoe said. “There are tens of thousands of faces here, and each one of them pretty much wants to change the world.”

This tree of hope?

Faded away.

He was moved from the negotiations to the “green zone”, away from the negotiators.

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