The latest initiative of international climate change talks is to invite people to submit stories as part of the Talanoa Response about where we are, where do we want to go and how do we get there, for action on climate change. Here is my story about “Where are we now?”, to show, yet again, how not so far, the international political community has come with regards to action climate change at their annual negotiations.

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories and build empathy in order to make wise decisions that are for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.

My Talanoa Story

I was one month old on 21st March 1994 the UNFCCC entered into force. At this age I did not know what world had been created and how the international community were attempting to prevent catastrophic climate change.

I was 15 years old when I attended COP15 in 2009 in Copenhagen as a young journalist. This was the time to decide a new climate agreement to replace Kyoto.

I remember the confusion of the event, not only from myself but also from the current UK climate change minister Ed Miliband. I remember rushing to see Barack Obama speak on the final day, only to find out out he had arrived minutes before to the venue, spoke for a few minutes and then rushed out again, leaving the final negotiations to others to do. I remember speaking to the President Rasheed of the Maldives, as he was by himself walking home and then catching a glimpse of the French President Sarkozy as journalists and protesters surrounded him as he entered the venue. I remember being on the edge of tears from anger and frustration as I joined the Small Island States representatives holding a silent process in the venue to call for their voices to be heard and not silenced.

Me at 14yrs at COP15

Me at 14yrs at COP15

These memories represent what I was only beginning to grasp at this age, that those with the most power in the climate change talks were impossible to see, working from behind the scenes and those most impacted by climate change were being made powerless.

I was 21 years old when I attended COP21 in 2015 in Paris to take part in the civil society red lines action, despite the terror attack and the state of emergency. This time, civil society was kept far away from the decision making and I was almost oblivious to the work of the decision makers, but fully immersed in seeing what action and change was happening within civil society to take action on climate change, taking a lead from indigenous and front-line communities.

And now, I am 24 years old when I will be attending the inter-sessionals in 2018 ahead for COP24 in Katowice.

In my 24 years of living I have been able to gain a deep understanding of the current Climate Crisis, how it started, who was involved, what current action is being taken on climate change at the same time as further destruction continues by other actors and what role I can play, recognising my own power and privilege, with others, to create change and demand climate action.

In 24 years of the UNFCCC there is still no agreement on how climate change should be measured, what action should be taken, and by whom should take action on climate change.

This is where we are, decades behind schedule, and not as a result of a lack of solutions, but as a result of a lack of support and action from those in seats of power about how to implement them.

Solutions to the climate crisis are not coming from those in power, those at the table in these climate change talks. People are creating change and forcing those in power to listen and act. From community energy projects, those fighting at the sites of coal, oil and gas extraction on all continents, the divestment movement and the rise of solar power, people are pioneering where we want to go outside of the climate negotiations. Politicians and negotiators in these talks need to change systematically how they work and take the lead from those not in the room, from civil society, indigenous peoples, front-line communities and those making change happen.

Note: This was not submitted to the Talanoa Response Portal

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