#1 Inside COP 21 – Selina from the Marshall Islands reports

Entering the convention where the COP21 was held was like being in an airport with all the security check-ins and such. Getting my COP21 name tag felt very weird as the lady repeated the same things she has probably said over a thousand times to the other many delegates who were attending.

I had only arrived in Paris around five in the evening on Saturday and I was already attending my first meeting. It was very exciting. I could hardly fight the smile that threatened to spill all over my face so I managed to keep my face calm.

Everywhere were head of states, climate negotiators, and other esteemed attendees. In the front was the president of France, François Hollande, himself with other esteem leaders leading the meeting.

Country after country expressed how they wanted the COP21 to be, their goals and wishes, and a reminder that what is happening is an historic moments that we must all put to good use.

Three hours later, we all left.

Sunday came and we had another meeting. Except this time, I was shadowing our Foreign Minister, Tony deBrum, in all of his briefings and meetings. Tony deBrum, very well-known on these meetings, as he has been a very vocal voice for the Marshall Islands and the rest of the Pacific in general as he voices our issues and concerns on climate change, nuclear weapons, and among others. Shadowing such an amazing man is a great honor. Who better to get an inspiration from to voice out your country’s concern despite the controversies it might provoke than Mr. deBrum?

The entire day, we attended two meetings. First one lasted for four hours and a half. Then we had a 30 minute break where we finally grabbed lunch and then the second meeting with a different group. This meeting, I saw clearly and heard clearly from countries who refused to acknowledge 1.5°C as a goal. Science does not deem it right. It will limit developing countries from developing and this will impact any procedures on addressing national concerns such as poverty. 2°C should be the goal. These countries said.

While I understand, I am torn between two places. One that I have to fight for my country if I want it still on this earth and the other is to help these countries with their situation.

I am still angry. I am still mad. My country is on the process of drowning. We release less than zero percent of the carbon emission in the air. Yet, we small island countries, are on the front-line, facing severe impacts of climate change. My home, where both my paternal and maternal grandparents and my aunt who raised me, and all my ancestors are buried in. My home, where I as a women, get my rights of its land. We are a matrilineal society. Land and power is passed through women. As an indigenous women, I am impacted greatly.

Yet, I do not want to be selfish and not consider other countries concerns. Because their concerns are as genuine as ours, whether they are being used as a tactic or not. I look at the many great leaders and despair and admire them at the same time. Such great task they hold.

Still, I have to be optimistic. I have to keep my faith. 1.5°C. We want 1.5°C.

Selina

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