As of now, the final draft text has been released, which contains just 50 brackets still up for negotiation (down from 361). While I sit here at 1 AM writing this post, negotiators are sitting in closed overnight meetings to try to finalize an agreement before the end of the week.
But that’s not what will happen, of course. Newspaper headlines might be peppered with mentions of COP21 for a few days, my environmental friends might mention something on social media, and then everything will go back to normal. My friends—who know that I’m in Paris “for some climate change thing”—might be able to escape the news entirely.
And that’s terrifying.
No international agreement that comes out of COP21 will be enough to halt the warming of our planet, protect against future climate risks, and move our world to a more just and sustainable future. Instead, we need action on all levels—personal, local, subnational, national, bilateral—that is constantly increasing. I just don’t know how that can be promoted when so many people still have the privilege of forgetting that climate change even exists.
In two days, I fly home. I’ll be carrying back with me a lot of business cards, 125 GB of video interviews, knowledge of the final text, and a multitude of thoughts about this process and this experience. But most importantly, I’ll be bringing a desire—no, a need—to keep this conversation going. So to my friends, family, classmates, strangers sitting next to me on the airplane, and neighbors in line at the grocery store—get ready!