By IOF student, Katie Stabb

For me, the best part of the whirlwind that is COP28 has been talking to anyone I can, because everyone is so passionate about climate and about what they do.

This morning we attended a negotiation – SBI Agenda Item 19, Matters Relating to Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). They debated a text of six short paragraphs and approved three of them after debating for an hour and a half. Country delegates objected to words and phrases or suggested “bridging language.” Some concerns were about substance and others purely grammatical. Tedious would be an understatement. I have no idea how the co-facilitator did not completely lose her mind. But despite never quite fully understanding what they were talking about, I was invested.

After the session adjourned, we approached the co-facilitator, Pemy Nosibusiso Gasela, from South Africa. She was happy to talk with us about her job and the negotiations. I learned she was quite a veteran, having been at every COP since COP17. She compared trying to get the Parties to compromise to teaching “preschoolers” basic sharing rules, but did so with a huge grin on her face.

On one hand, spending so much time on something that feels minuscule if not completely arbitrary, when such big changes are needed, is extremely frustrating.

But I also found the experience hopeful, because it reminded me that there are people like Nosibusiso Gasela who have devoted so much time and so much patience to go through these small changes, sentence by sentence, year after year, in the hopes that it will add up to a big difference.