Maija Katak Lukin made it to Paris after two days of travel and 17 hours of air time. The city council member from Kotzebue took part in a State Department panel this morning moderated by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Lukin spoke alongside a leader from the Nature Conservancy and a representative from the Marshall Islands.
Like Alaska, the Marshall Islands is deemed to be the front lines of climate change. The network of islands in the South Pacific is under threat from sea level rise.
Despite the geographic distance between the Marshall Islands and Alaska — Lukin says they have a lot in common. And those threads of discussion are being brought forward at the Paris climate talks.
“A lot of people are facing the same issues,” she writes. “It may not be diminishing sea ice or a change in caribou migration, but it’s definitely things like food security and erosion — which are affecting our tribes in northwest Alaska.”
Hearing other people’s climate stories hits home.
“I was emotional only one small fraction of a time during my panel today, but (I) cried like a baby at the indigenous people’s pavilion when a South Dakota Indian talked about how fracking is affecting their tribe.”
Despite the jet lag, Lukin is chronicling her journey with a chipper disposition through her Facebook page. Apart from the climate talks, highlights have included a free hotel upgrade, wonderfully great bread, a new friend from Germany, and using her French — with success.
“It’s really nice to see so many people from so many different places talking about the same thing in one place,” she writes.
Today was Lukin’s first full day in Paris. She says she has plans to explore more tomorrow.