After the Fossil of the Day awards yesterday, I was wandering around the conference center center, when I noticed a gathering of people. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but two words drew me in… Africa Unite. I shuffled my way into the crowed and tried to figure out what was going on. The people continued to chant Africa Unite and then switched back and forth between one degree, and climate justice. Out of (apparently) nowhere, an action of over 50 people had just formulized, and I was on the outskirts.

The chanting subsided and one man stepped up and gave a very eloquent and powerful monologue. In summary, he said that it was time the developed countries stepped up and that the current negotiations weren’t progressing in a way that would protect African countries. He said that a 2 degree change in temperature was not appropriate because it would not protect people living in low lying areas from harm. He and his followers began to chant one degree! One degree! and marched off towards the plenary room.

Instead of following them, I skirted off to the side event, Stronger Southern Voice, sponsored by the Climate Action Network (CAN). I was surprised to hear one of the speakers explain that he had arrived late to this event because he has witnessed his fellow Africans leave their closed meeting frustrated with how it went. Collectively, they decided to march to the Fossil of the Day award ceremony to demonstrate their sentiments.

This simple expression of collective feelings was one of the most powerful events I’ve seen during the past two days. The energy in that group was so high and so collected; I could almost feel the crowd trembling with anticipation. To me this type of action- spontaneous and inspired- speaks to the heart of climate change and these negotiations. Responding to Climate change isn’t a negotiable topic anymore. It’s imperative, and every nation here at the COP agree on this point. But this event is extremely political and must be unbelievably frustrating to those who can see through all of the red tape of diplomacy to the current and future destruction of their land, their home and potentially their communities. The ability to express this frustration in effective and inspiring ways is impressive and I hope these voices are heard.

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