COP: A day in the life

It’s only the second day, and I’ve already met Minister McKenna (Canada’s environment minister), got a job offer, argued with gas companies and a Monsanto representative, got a picture taken by a very nice Bangladeshi Member of Parliament, amassed a substantial collection of business cards, and learned so much. I’m wondering how I will top that in the next three days.

COP for me has consisted of attending negotiations and events hosted by different countries and organizations, as well as networking with a lot of people. For example, I’ll give you a run-down of what happened today.

Morning: I met with Nunavut’s director of climate change, Colleen Healey. I also met Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, by chance while walking around. I then huddled around the entrance of the main building at the conference, and watched as the King of Morocco, Francois Hollande, and other important people walked in to the first CPA – Conference of the Parties for Paris Agreement, where negotiations regarding the Paris agreement occurred.

Afternoon: I met with a Kenyan university student, and talked about the role of youth in climate action in our respective countries. Kenya has very comprehensive methods of including youth in decisions regarding the environment, and often invites them to negotiations. I then ran to a meeting with an environmental NGO that is trying to create a large marine sanctuary in the Arctic Ocean. Then I headed to a Canada briefing, where Minister McKenna spoke and answered questions from the group. Notably, a member of the Canadian Youth Delegation asked some piercing questions about the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Our evenings are spent wandering the souks of the old city, eating Moroccan food, and catching up on schoolwork. It’s been busy, but great! My favourite thing about COP is the fact that there are so many different cultures and backgrounds represented here, but we all have a common interest in climate change. In my interactions with people so far, I learn just as much about their home and culture as I do about their work.


I can’t wait to see what the rest of the conference brings!

Ambika Opal is a fourth year systems design engineering student, interested in the intersection of engineering and social issues, northern Canada, and climate change. In her spare time, she enjoys speed skating and Pixar movies.


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