Uppsala Univerisity’s delegation reported live from the climate change negotiations.
Daily Reports and Post-Paris Reflections
Including video-logs, interviews with conference participants, analysis of the negotiations, agreement, and more
Summary and reflections on the past few days at COP21
By Maisa Young
After the first day’s whirlwind ride I decided that my goals as an observer here at the COP would be to follow the process of the negotiations and take part in side events concerning human rights and climate justice.
Tuesday at COP21
My second day of COP21 it was easier to structure what events and session one wanted to follow. Interesting facts for you all to know are that there are three types of parallel sessions going on throughout the day at the conference. Firstly there are a large number of different side events going on organised by governmental institutions, NGO’s and states concerning topics such as human rights, renewable energy development, climate research, development projects etc. Secondly there are press conferences held daily by NGO’s, networks, countries or country coalitions on the development of the ongoing negotiations and positions and statements being made on the agreements/negotiations. Thirdly there are negotiation sessions running throughout the day where the new Paris agreement is discussed and most of these sessions are closed for everyone but the negotiators. My objective for every day has been to attend at least one of each of these activities.
So on Tuesday I attended a side event hosted by the Climate Vulnerability Forum. The forum is a coalition of 43 countries who are most vulnerable to climate change impacts and are pushing for a strong agreement with the ambition of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees. The forum has presented a high ambition in the negotiations and are advocating for full decarbonisation by 2050 and reviews of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) before 2020 because they are not enough at the moment to stay below 1.5 degrees temperature rise.
What is remarkable and what became evident for me after this session is that here is proof that the one’s with the highest ambitions at these talks are not the one’s who are most responsible for the situation we are in today. They have the least means and capacity to make these transitions and step over to renewable energy systems, yet they are the one’s who won’t accept a deal which can’t deliver on these issues.
Another reflection I’ve made is that Sweden’s role as a leader in reaching a strong agreement is barely visible here. There are also delegations who we have been speaking to that have expressed that Sweden has been very quiet on core issues such as human rights and that they have been standing behind EU’s position on many issues. This came as a bit of shock to me because I had an impression, and hope, that Sweden would be taking the lead and stand with developing countries pleas for a more just agreement.
I also attended the first Paris Committee session on Tuesday, which was held from 8 – 12 pm in the evening. It was surprising to see so many states declaring how positive and thankful they were towards the French Presidency’s leadership in the negotiations. This is one thing that has been coming back throughout the COP and is quite the opposite opinion of what the civil society organisations at the conference have been expressing.
The Committee plenary session consisted of statements from country delegations and a majority of the countries that asked for the floor were developing countries. Most memorable were Malaysia and India’s speeches that questioned the ambitions of the COP and pointed out that the agreement at the time still didn’t deliver a clear trajectory on the ambition of keeping global temperature rise under the scientific boundary of 1.5 degrees.
Progress of the negotiations
The real negotiations on the new Paris Agreement as mentioned before have been conducted in closed sessions and lead under French Presidency under rather large secrecy. During the past weekend the ADP group session, which had been working on the agreement so far, actually closed and a new draft document and reflection note was handed over to the ministers, who took over the negotiations during this week.
They have been meeting during the week under a session named the Committee de Paris and there have been stocktakes almost every day from these sessions, which have been semi-closed but live-streamed. Besides plenary meetings they have been working in spin-off groups working on for example means of implementation, such as finance, technology, capacity building and differentiation, specifically in regards to mitigation, finance and transparency and ambition which concerns the long-term goals, periodic reviews on the progress on mitigation and the INDC etc. During the week several more working groups were established on for example adaptation, where Sweden’s Vice Prime minister Åsa Romson was one of the co-facilitators.
What is clear is that only by revising the INDCs before 2020 can increase the mitigation and adaptation commitments to keep us below 1.5 degrees. To me this has been one of the fundamental issues, which needs to be solved for us to be able to have the discussion on 1.5 degrees. Otherwise there is a huge risk that we will end up with an agreement that is contradictory and weak.
Wednesday at Cop21
The highlight of the day was a huge action inside the negotiations with hundreds of people from civil society organisations inside COP21. The demonstration called for climate justice to be respected and pressuring our governments to have higher ambitions than they currently have been expressing in the sessions. It is amazing how forces of people can make an impact at such a huge event. Our words did echo inside the negotiations and the media covered the action and spread it widely worldwide. It was great to be a part of such a positive momentum inside the COP because it has been very demanding and frustrating to see how unfair and rigged the negotiations are in some aspects.
Thursday at Cop21
Thursday started off with human rights being removed from the agreement – on Human Rights Day of all days. I can’t understate that. I went into a smaller depression because human rights are core aspects that must be mentioned in the operational part of the agreement for industries and countries to be forced to respect people’s rights in their transitions and developments towards a more carbon neutral economy.
Friday at Cop21
Since the end of November, civil society organisations such as 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Coalition 21 and Alternatiba have arranged massive amounts of cool art spaces, seminars, concerts and fairs all around Paris in parallell with the negotiations. Today I decided to step out of the closed and artificial world of the COP21 and step into the people’s climate action zone and experience people power taking place. Spent the day at a great culture centre in Aubervilliers with workshops and briefings from the climate movement on demonstrations happening on the 12/12 and made a trip to an art space/eco community in Montreuil where many of the props for demonstrations have been produced. The atmosphere and energy at these spots are so positive and cheerful and it has been a wonderful contrast to being inside the COP. People from all around the world and of all ages have conjoined in Paris and are networking, demonstration and sharing their knowledge and experiences from their work as climate activists. The message from the climate movement in Paris is that now we have had enough, and we need to mobilize and take it into our own hands if we want the world to move in the right direction.
Tomorrow morning we will have the final draft of the Paris Agreement and by the end of the day we might also have an actual climate agreement for 2030. The content and mechanisms for mitigation, adaptation, finance and ambition are however not enough. This is why people are going to speak their voice in solidarity and send a message to the world that we are now in a state of climate emergency. Follow my updates tomorrow on Twitter and Facebook for live updates on the people’s last say at COP21.
Interview with Jonathan Nylander on P3 about the ongoing negotiations
Conference life from the Delegates’ Perspective
By Maisa Young
I feel so humble and emotional right now! Today, or this afternoon, the latest draft agreement was released after closed negotiations have been going on since the 5th of December. New is that the draft has been reduced to 28 pages and, as many realised quite quickly, a number of determining issues on climate justice have been completely removed or reduced or weakened to a very large extent.
This lead to a massive reaction from youth and civil society organisations at COP21. Over a 100 people marched into hall 2, where countries have their exhibition spaces, for a sit-in protest due to the lack of climate justice in the new draft. The sound from our voices took over the whole hall and the media went absolutely crazy and were everywhere! I’ve never experienced a protest such as this. People raised their voices and used their mandate in a just and peaceful way but with a strong message to their representatives – they need to raise their ambition way more than this! Not only are observers frustrated about the new draft but also due to the fact that they are continuously kept out of the negotiations, which makes it difficult to mobilize action, report and lobby delegations on core issues.
So far today we haven’t heard much from the country delegations on the latest draft but we will be following the Paris Committee meeting this evening at 8 pm and bring you more information on the process. The impression I have received from delegations here are that they are pretty confident that we will have an agreement by Friday but there is still massive uncertainty on mechanisms and wording. Stay tuned in on Twitter tonight and ask us questions on the ongoing negotiations.
By Juan Carlos Mauritz
Let me just first state that I am delighted to be here and very thankful to have been given this opportunity to attend COP21, and that I do so with the sole ambition of channelling information back to other students in Uppsala. As well as to make use of this momentum gathered, and to bring home my enthusiasm and frustration from COP, energies I’ll use to create forums in Uppsala which I hope shall spring concrete local and regional action.
I basically came here with three main objectives, categorised; EU, UMUN (Uppsala Model United Nation) and China, all related to what will happen next, once all this is over or rather once everything should begin.
I am a board member of the European Youth Parliament Uppsala (EYPU) and our organisation wanted to make use of the fact that one of its cadres would be present at COP21. As such we decided that I’d attempt to discover some perspectives of the European Union, and I am now focusing a lot on how the EU is using the enhanced observer status it enjoys at the UN (and as such at COP21), what are the challenges and what will be its success? I’ll attempt to answer these questions through attending sessions as well as meeting and interviewing Swedish and EU officials. We, the EYPU will contribute to an open briefing on the 16th of December at the upcoming Sustainability Festival at Blåsenhus, to which anyone interested are more than welcome to attend.
I am also one of the directors of Uppsala Model United Nations (UMUN) 2016, and as such I aim to bring back all the impressions I have gained here in Paris, from atmosphere to procedures and other general impressions, in order to make sure that UMUN 2016 and the simulation of EU and UN committees, will hold the same standard and ambiance as a real international conference. If you weren’t able to make it to Paris, I’d like to advise you to take the opportunity to experience multilateral negotiations as close as you can get at UMUN 2016. http://www.uppsalamun.com/
I along with two other members of our delegation were invited prior to COP21 as speakers to a China – EU youth workshop hosted by the China Youth Climate Action Network. There we’ll be discussing how youth-to-youth cooperation between young citizens of EU and China can improve, this emanating from a framework of sustainable development. The Workshop will be held later today (09/12) and we’ll post more information later on.
We’ll also look into co-organising a press conference at the end of COP21 with other students and young people here in Paris, where we’d like to send a strong but constructive message on how youth feels about the outcome of Paris.
Stay tuned for more updates on these processes.
Conference life from the Delegates’ Perspective
By Maisa Young
Today was my first day as an observer inside the negotiations at Le Bourget. It is incredibly difficult to try to summarize all the impressions, thoughts, emotions and questions that are floating through my mind as I come home in the middle of the night.
Firstly, I would like to say to all of you back home who follow COP21 and have insights in how these negotiations are structured – you can’t believe how big the conference really is! It is insanely large and at times I find it hard to grasp that there are important legal sessions going on because of all the buzz, people and activities going on everywhere at the venue. Shortly, my first day felt like being thrown into a mixer and being pretty blended by the end of the day.
I started the day with attending a briefing from the Daily Tck to learn what has been happening during the last ADP session and where we are right now with the Paris Agreement. Then I joined a Climate Action Network conference, which I realized that I unfortunately had too little background information on to be able to fully follow. This seems to be the case at COP – it’s entering a new world with a new language and agenda in every session which one needs to have studied thoroughly to be able to fully follow.
A highlight off the day was attending a conference on climate justice where we had the privilege to hear a heartbreaking speech from Julianne Hickey, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Director, on the urgency for climate change adaptation to the most vulnerable communities in Oceania. She gave such an honest and moving speech with direct critic towards the narrative that climate change is something we will suffer from in the future. The COP and the world need to understand that there is a pressing need to take climate change action right now. Severe climate change impacts are a reality in Oceania and thousands of people are right now suffering immensely due to more frequent and severe storms, problems with access to fresh water resources due to saltwater intrusion, droughts and the list goes on and on. It is the poorer communities which are more severely hit and are in need of financial and social support to be able to build up their home and livelihoods. This speech made me come back to the core of this issue – it’s about human rights. This a foundational insight to keep in mind these days when states are deliberating on emission reduction targets, long-term goals and regulations for reviews. We have the responsibility to support and to compensate those who are the least responsible for the development of global climate change. Not because they are least responsible but because of solidarity.
Around Le Bourget there are actions held daily by civil society and youth organizations. I witnessed one which was protesting the secrecy of the negotiations and that observers aren’t let inside. Civil society organisations play a very strong role in putting pressure on the negotiators and during last week they succeeded in directing the discussion to 1.5 degrees in the negotiations. 1.5 degrees is now in brackets in the agreement and would most likely not been there if it wasn’t for the power of the civil society!
In the evening I left the craziness of Le Bourget to go for a conference with Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party UK and Naomi Klein, no further introduction needed, on Trade Unions and Climate Change in central Paris. Corbyn broke the stage with a statement that we are in a crisis of imagination and presented a set of questions that set the tone for the evening. Corbyn said the most important question we need to begin to address post-COP21 is what do we want the world to look like? We need to speak out now and it’s only our imagination that is holding us back! Klein and Corbyn discussed the great forces of the trade unions and how they are showing the way for workers globally in the demand for green climate jobs. The event was a spectacular reminder of how many people we are out there in the world believing that change is possible! C’est incroyable!
Tomorrow is Day 2 for me and Day 8 for the negotiations. Unsure of what will go down but keep a watch out on Twitter today!
Video-log December 5 – Summary of the first week of negotiations
Video-log #2 December 5 – Action: What are you negotiating for?
Conference life from the Delegates’ Perspective
By Johanna Snell
This was the last day for me at the Climate Generations Area. I took part in three conferences. In addition to conferences there is lot to see in the Generations Area; three exhibition areas where you find organization’s stands, a screening room where you can see films, and several art exhibitions. There are working/meeting areas and spots where you can charge your appliances by producing the power yourself by cycling on a bike. And then there are restaurants and café. The Climate Generations Area is open to the general public every day from 10.30 to 19.00 during COP21.
I started the day with Urban farming; The agriculture urbanism, a new territorial factory? which was hosted by LUA (Urban Farming Laboratory) in partnership with Séguano Aménagement, the City of Romainville and County Council of Seine-Saint-Dennis. There were experts from different fields who were presenting urban farming experiences from Barcelona, Paris, New York, Casablanca, Switzerland and Romainville. They showed some inspiring examples of urban farming, and also presented some challenges that urban farming is facing. Overall urban farming and different green initiatives were seen as important solutions when adapting to climate change.
The second shorter conference was about The Contribution of Protected Areas to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme. Representatives from three different countries presented how they have been working with protected areas in their efforts to combat climate change. The purpose of these protected areas are to avoid Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) and deforestation, enhance carbon sequestration, mitigate storm impacts, maintain water and food security, maintain habitat connectivity and protect vulnerable species. Countries that were represented were Tanzania, Guyana and Indonesia. They had some similar problems such as habitat loss and deforestation due to human activities such as logging, mining, building etc. However, they also had some success stories of protecting areas.
The last conference of the day was The hidden emissions of the consumption, which was held by General Commission for Sustainable Development of France. They were addressing the emissions by carbon footprint, and presented how the carbon footprint can be measured on three different levels: the carbon footprint of products, the carbon footprint on an activity (for example on a business) and finally the carbon footprint of a country. They also compared carbon footprint with the GHG national inventory. National inventory of GHG’s does not count imported or exported emissions, so it doesn’t give as big emissions to a country as the carbon footprint. They also gave suggestions on how all of us could reduce our carbon footprints. Food plays a big role in our footprint, so by eating less animal products and favouring seasonal plant products, you could reduce your footprint. Food waste also plays a big role, and overconsumption of food should also be taken into account. Changes in lifestyles and changes in production patterns are needed for carbon footprints to be reduced. One important thing is to raise awareness about these hidden emissions.
By Marcel Llavero Pasquina
False democracy at COP21 (this blog is cross-posted from PUSH Sweden)
Working as an observer is not an easy task at COP21. Following the technical negotiations is already very difficult. Imagine reading a text in a language that you have barely heard before. Now imagine how you could read that text if you were blind. This is how we feel: blind! It is a major challenge to follow and participate in the negotiations. It is very difficult to understand what is happening, and thus our reactions, the way how we structure our arguments and our actions, are completely coopted.
The negotiations are hiding behind closed doors, and the reasons could not be more obvious. They do not want civil society, all of us, to watch what they are deciding. And guess why? Why would they hide from someone? They are afraid that we realise that they are not acting in the interest of the broader society. Closed negotiations mean vested interest decision-making.
Let’s have a closer look, let’s ask ourselves who is backing the decision of negotiating behind closed doors. Here at COP21, and probably anywhere else in the world, it is known that the least developed and most vulnerable countries have been repeatedly asking the facilitators of the process to open the rooms to observers. But the facilitators, better known as co-chairs, have successfully turned down every single demand.
The co-chairs have not been responsible, at least solely, of this decision as they are supposed to remain neutral. A group of different countries have been opposing a transparent process since last October? Who do you think is backing the co-chairs in this decision? You were right if you were thinking of the USA, EU, Japan, Russia, and Australia, to name a few.
And it is morally wrong, in the name of “Freedom, Democracy and Justice” when at the same time you are leaving the Paris agreement in the hands of a privileged minority. We all have to understand that to reach a global agreement it takes all of us. We will not tolerate that they close up COP21 and sell Paris as a “global” agreement, because it is obviously not.
Adding to the hypocrisy, all these countries were the ones demanding a transparent process during the COP21 opening session. “Openness is essential. We need a common system of transparency.” said Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Switzerland was talking about “building trust and creating momentum” and to top it up, Barack Obama said: “Here in Paris, let’s agree to a strong system of transparency that gives each of us the confidence that all of us are meeting our commitments.”
The crude reality is that the Paris agreement would look completely different if the negotiations were open to observers. Society in general and the Climate Deal in particular, are shaped by four major powers: political power, social power, economic power and media power. What defines who we are as a community is the balance between these different powers. And here again, it becomes obvious that by closing the doors they are practically suppressing any participation of the media and social powers – they are rigging the game.
Behind closed doors they think they are safe, they do not want us to listen from those defending the global interests and so they do not let us see what they do. But we are still here, we will keep on pushing, and we will make the common interest win this game. During COP21 and even more after these negotiations we will keep demanding that our rights are respected.
#KeepUsintheRoom #COP4Rights #Article2o2 #HumanRights
Video-log from December 3 – Jonathan and Marcel speaking about hope at COP21
Conference life from the Delegates’ Perspective
By Jonathan Nylander
Today has been very focused on Sweden on my part, because I am the only Swedish speaker from UU inside the negotiations at the moment and two Swedish gatherings took place today. The first meeting was called by PUSH Sverige, a group we work closely with inside the COP21. The purpose of this meeting was to gather all of Swedish civil society/industry to see if we have any common objectives to create a unison lobbying effort as a preparation for the second meeting.
The second meeting was an invitation of Swedish civil society to meet with the official delegation and hear their thoughts on the current negotiations, as well as being able to ask questions. However, I did not get much out of this meeting, it just felt like empty words of “yes, we’re doing that and that” without us being able to verify if it’s true as the negotiations are closed to civil society. When the question time started, a Sami woman confronted the delegates on their stance on Article 2.2 (human rights, gender equality and indigenous rights) and if Sweden were actively protecting this text, which Norway has suggested to remove (which has received a lot of criticism). The lead delegate said that Sweden had been pushing for keeping this text. But the Sami woman didn’t stop there. “I have personally heard from EU delegates that neither Finland or Sweden have taken an active role in protecting this text”, as the head delegate replied that this is something they have to look into.
They also mention that the negotiations have been divided into so many spin-off groups that Sweden, and even the EU, have a hard time to follow all the negotiations and what is going on. This is something I’ve heard from many delegates the two last days. Imagine then, being a developing country that can only afford to send a group of 2-10 delegates. This is why the youth movement has communicated that “the game is rigged in favor of rich countries”.
There has been a lot of hype around the CVF (Climate Vulnerability Forum) and their pledge to generate all of their energy, 100% of their energy production, with renewables by 2020. In only 5 years time! This is such a fantastic and respectable initiative for the countries that are at the forefront of climate change. They are truly leading the way while the industrial countries are lagging behind in ambition and keeping true to the big words uttered by their presidents and prime ministers. Civil society have supported the CVF and today I took part in an action that you can see in the picture below. We were chanting “1 point 5 to stay alive” and “CVF – follow their lead” before we accepted interviews from journalists.
— Maria Langholz (@MariaLangholz) 2 december 2015
I also did an interview with the Swedish National Radio (P3) this morning which you can check out here (listen from 11:20-19:40). http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/641122?programid=1646
I have two videos from today. Me and Marcel talking about the positive things at COP21 (see above) and one interview with a delegate from the Marshall Islands:
In the evening, I went to an art space in East Paris to attend a meeting on actions. It was very inspiring and looking forward to work with many of them now and especially next week when I’m outside the negotiations. Stay tuned for this kind of content next week!
By Lisa Plattner
Wednesday, third day of COP21, everything seems more familiar and I know my way around without getting lost all the time :). The venue is split into several halls with tons of different rooms, you really should know what you want to do. Otherwise you spend too much time wandering around and figuring out, what is when and where things are happening. I started the day with ‘Negotiations’, the delegates focused on the INDCs – Intended Nationaly Determined Contributions (p.30, in the official document) but got stuck for a while with paragraph 18, especially with setting brackets: erase them, or erase the whole paragraph then leave the brackets again and finally they decided to come back to the paragraph later.
After that I had the chance to listen to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (IPCC), Ibrahim Thiaw (UNEP), Paul Caballero (World Bank) and others in the side event ‘One Ocean, One Climate, One UN: Working together for a healthy and resilient ocean’. As Thiaw points out ‘80% of the pollution in the sea is coming from the land’, which stresses that we have to give the oceans more attention. Further they mentioned ‘blue economy’ and ‘blue carbon’, especially the World Bank emphasized the importance of these.. The INDCs discussion really caught my attention, I attended another side event from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) where they all presented their countrie’s action plans. Their presentations were very similar to each other, but Kuwait pointed out that they experience climate change already; as one of the hottest countries of the world, they are concerned that living in the area will get harder throughout the century.
By Johanna Snell
I started the day by taking part of a Camp Climate field trip to a waste management center. The waste management center is in Clichy-Batignolles, which is on the north-west side of Paris in the 17th arrondissement.
The area is being developed with new housing, as well as commercial and office sites. The public transit is also being developed and geothermal heating is to be installed. On top of that they have built a pneumatic waste management system to cover the new area. The area is developed with sustainability in mind and there is a big park between the buildings.
The waste management project started in 2013 and should be ready for use in 2018. At the moment they are completing a study in order to determine whether to expand the project or not.Their waste management system separates recyclables such as plastic, metal, paper and cardboard from compostable waste. The glass has to be recycled separately as it would explode in the system. The purpose of the system is to reduce emissions from the trucks that otherwise would collect the waste from the bins from every building. Now the trucks don’t need to collect the waste that often, and it is done only from one place. People also find the system easier, as they don’t have to do the recycling themselves, only divide the waste into two different streams.
After this interesting visit to the waste management site I went to Climate Generations Area to attend to two conferences:
The first one was on “The sustainable transition we want”, which was organised by Progressives for climate project run by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and Fondation Jean Jaures. There were people from different partner organizations who were presenting their perspective on the topic. The project called Progressives for climate has been going on for two years. The aim of the project is to participate in creating a shared vision of a low-carbon future that will respect people and the environment. The project is building a network, publishing articles and also gives progressive proposals for COP21. The main issues that were presented were that young people should be engaged, inequality has to be addressed, and changes in consumption patterns is needed.
The second conference was “Our life 21: sustainable and desirable lifestyles in 2050”, which was held by Association 4 D. There were people from different organizations around the world who were reporting on how the “Our life 21” project is going. The project aims to help citizens understand how their lives will change because of climate change. The project is happening in different countries and the partner organizations are picking up families for case studies to show how people’s lives will change by the year 2030 and by 2050. The project started in 2014 and will go on until 2016.
Tuesday December 1
When I entered the conference today, I was met by a group of mainly faith leaders who were fasting. Among them, one Norwegian priest. This is one way to draw attention to the fact that climate change will decrease the productive land used for agriculture, and that climate change might result in more hunger around the world.
At one point, I also saw two Native Americans speaking with the International Atomic Energy Alliance, only in Spanish which the representative didn’t understand. They shook his hand and walked off. Only managed to get a blurry picture.
My highlight of the day was meeting one of the delegates from a small island state in the Caribbean. She took 30 minutes of her day to talk to me about life, COP21 and climate change in her country. 30 minutes at COP21 is A LOT of time, as this place seems to be a vortex where time is moving faster and progress slower. I told her we in the climate justice movement are on her side and asked how I could assist her. She told me that we in the civil society have the enormous privilege of being able to speak our mind and the frank truth. In a tired attempt, this is what I did:
I also witnessed the negotiation process when the co-chairs go through the current text while trying to clean up all the brackets and trying to get countries to agree on the text. You sit in a room with delegates and journalists watching the text being negotiated in the next room. Here’s a longer video that show the essence of this process:
Humanity and Nature. Feelings from COP21
by Marcel Llavera Pasquina (This post is cross-posted from the blog of PUSH Sweden)
It has only been two days at COP, but certainly already an experience for life. It is incredible how much you can learn and how much can you feel in such a short time. In such a visual event as the World Climate Conference it might be difficult to look inside. But in this blog post, I want to walk us through the rush I live in my feelings, which it can be as much or even more than the rush we witness in the conference halls. Yesterday it hit me, I did not need more than 10 hours at the conference to find out the (in)human side of COP21.
I clearly realized that there are two important profiles dominating the conference: those who come here for their job, and those who come here for their life. The attitudes are very different, there are some people coming here just as a mere part of their job, diplomacy and law as their backgrounds. For what I have witnessed, some of the parties representatives show a non compassion profile, it is difficult to guess what they are feeling, if they even do.
On the other hand, it is extremely eye-catching to see all the people that are here for their life. It is easy to spot them, you see it in their eyes, you can really grasp their feelings. Just passing by, or just with an instant look you can see their feelings of anger, disagreement, and urgency. They are here to protect their freedom, culture, education, shelter, food, water, health… and when I put myself in their shoes, it gives me goosebumps just to think that there are people still fighting for the basic right of existence of their communities.
The sense of humanity in the air is rare, there are some black spots where I can see no feelings on the expression of some party delegates. But right in the same room, in the same corridors, I have seen small flowers growing on a parking lot. Seeing people standing up for their basic needs, it brings up so many feelings, it brings up the very emotion of human existence, and this is a pleasure to witness despite the circumstances.
Personally, I have tried to connect with the world and feel a part of humanity. One may think that being surrounded by 150 Heads of State and by people from every country in the world is a great opportunity to feel in the middle of the world. But the reality is that in the overall rush of the hectic conference halls it is not at all easy to stop for a second and ask yourself “What does this experience make you feel?”. And this morning I realized. Again, it was clear: COP21 is so artificial, it is a synthetic world, despite their efforts with plastic animals, there is no connection to Nature in LeBourget. Ironically, I have only had that magical feeling of belonging to the Earth when I have gone for a short walk on the outside of the venue. I was walking on the soil, full of grass, there was wind blowing in my face and some birds flying together in the sky. In that exact moment I felt part of humanity, I felt like I was in connection with the Earth, because we should not forget that a large part of being human means being in harmony with our environment.
As I was walking inside the venue, going through security, leaving the soil to step on pavement, the fresh breeze was fading out into a temperature conditioned environment. This transition broke all my sync with Nature, as it seems the negotiations are breaking their link to Earth. Yesterday, many of the Heads of State statements reflected on pledges, ambition, deals… narrowing down our view. Again, I missed the connection to Nature, the real meaning of these negotiations, in this dark windowless venue. But there is always place for hope and inspiration. This time, Ecuador was the flower blooming in the COP21. The speech held by its president reframed the whole concept of the new Humanity-Nature relationship that we should establish if we truly want to solve the climate crisis. ”La pregunta no es si podemos seguir creciendo, sino que detendrá el crecimiento económico en el mundo” – Rafael Correa statement at the Heads of State event of COP21.
I Strongly recommend watching Rafael Correa’s intervention.
By Johanna Snell
I spent most of the first day at the Climate Generations Area, which is open to public. I missed the first conference of the day because of the long que to get the train tickets but was able to attend three conferences on different topics. The first conference: Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems helps to mitigate climate change – The contribution of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets to land-based climate mitigation. The Convention on Biological Diversity presented the findings of a report concerning biodiversity conservation and climate mitigation. There are four Aichi Biodiversity Targets that are related to land cover management and especially relevant to land-based mitigation; Targets 5, 7, 11 and 15. A summary of the findings:
- Protection of ecosystems is estimated to be one of the most cost effective ways of climate mitigation.
- Avoiding deforestation and restoring ecosystems could be more effective than bioenergy as climate mitigation strategies.
- Sustainable agriculture practises could contribute to climate mitigation while reducing direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity.
- Healthy diets (globally less meat consumption) and reducing waste in food systems are important ways to contribute to climate mitigation and protection of the environment.
The second conference: How can bioenergy Mitigate Climate Change?
The European Biomass Association were promoting the use of bioenergy in Europe and presenting scientific data to support it. They were only addressing bioenergy use and climate mitigation and leaving other impacts of using bioenergy out of the picture. They mentioned sustainable forestry a few times, but for the most part they focused on promoting the increased use of bioenergy and focusing on woody biomass. They presented the economic dimensions and the energy security side of using bioenergy: That it provides jobs and secures energy self-sufficiency in Europe. They also argued how managed forests have higher capacity to act as carbon sink than non-managed forests, and they strongly recommended how “all” forests should be managed. Furthermore, that forests are not secure carbon sinks, because they can burn or been taken over by insects, so it is better to manage them (cut them down) than to use them as carbon sinks.
However, they were also saying that monoculture is dangerous, as insects may destroy the whole forest, but they were not saying that if you have more natural forests with diverse trees it is more resistant to insect attacks. So, they were addressing some of the problems of managed forests, but not telling the whole story. It was quite interesting to listen to this different approach to climate mitigation than what was presented in the first session. Because at the first conference they were saying that using bioenergy is not necessarily that good way to mitigate, that it could be better to save the forests and to that way mitigate to climate change.
The third conference: Better for you, better for the world: changing your eating habits to help protecting the planet.
Association Végétarienne de France presented their association and different findings from organizations such as FAO about how livestock is impacting climate change. They focused on how Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from livestock production are bigger than from the transport sector. There are different figures about the amount of GHG’s emitted by livestock, ranging from 14.5 to 51 % of total emissions. There is a big opportunity to reduce GHG’s by eating less animal products and going towards more plant based diets, and even more if the plant based diets are seasonal. The association also presented the health benefits of eating less animal products. Their solution for better health and better planet is to reduce the amount of animal products consumed, and encouraging people to eat more local and seasonal plant products, which will reduce GHG’s. They also stressed how this also helps to address issues of animal welfare, and helps to solve the interconnected issues of both sustainable land use, water and biodiversity. They hope that the consumption of animal products will become more of a political issue as it has large impacts on animals, the climate and the environment.
Monday November 30
Second video-log – The first day of negotiations
Conference life from the Delegates’ Perspective
By Lander Islami
From the beginning it was known that the 1st day of COP21 on November 30 was going to be an interesting but hectic day. Word was out, that due to the leader’s event happening during the day, all participants should arrive as early as possible to Le Bourget. For our delegation this meant waking up 5:30am and already being at the door around 7am, which we did. It was still dark out, but the scene was set and we were ready to kick-off what was to be a packed day.
It all started with the YOUNGO spokescouncil that set the scene for the youth network within UNFCCC. The meeting was spearheaded by a number of youth facilitators, and in the main room there was a big roundtable that gathered representatives from a lot of youth constituencies and individual organizations working in the field and contributing to the work of this network. Among this diverse group of entities, our delegation also had a seat. Subsequently, I had the pleasure to introduce our delegation to this group. The outcome of this event was breaking down into working groups that will present in the days to come, reports and recommendations related to individual areas of interest. As opposed to the diverse topics in the agenda, the meeting was rather brief so that we don’t loose a lot of time on procedure but can concentrate on substance.
After that, our delegation was considering the opportunity to follow the leaders event, which we knew would be difficult as we did not have special [additional] badges to be granted access. Fortunately, colleagues from the College of Atlantic/Earth in Brackets group received two badges from YOUNGO, and they were super nice in sharing one with us. This enabled me to follow live the speeches delivered by the first group of world leaders including: Obama, Xi Jingping, Merkel, Putin, and co. When one hears the speeches you really get an inverted view on the status-quo. You understand that our leaders understand what is and what needs to be done, but it is as if they need to convince us to change the situation. And this is now subject to debate because obviously responsibility is something that society, government, private sector share. However, all of the speeches sounded passionate, and full of potential from all countries. The most striking speech to me was the one that the U.S. President delivered. He articulated his points in a clear synopsis of situations he encountered himself around the world, it was a vivid walkthrough of what we are dealing with right now. Resultantly, Mr. Obama sent very strong messages to his colleagues and to the rest of the world. Noting on the fact that it is the wealthiest country in the world, he stood tall when recognizing the culpability in the status quo and the responsibility that the United States bears for propelling the fight against climate change and in building the future we want.
In the afternoon to evening session, Our delegation participated at the high-level Climate Vulnerable Forum, which was touching as countries who are incredibly threatened by climate change spoke out. The President of the Philippines underscored that in the countries member to this forum, there are only two seasons, wet and dry, and particularly when they are in the latter, it is tremendously hard to get by. While, in his opening speech, the presiding chair of the forum said that as opposed to before, when it was thought that vulnerability to climate change is an attribute shared only by certain countries, vulnerability is now a universal attribute of all the countries. To this direction, the bottom-line of this forum is to undertake efforts and lower the ceiling to the temperature rise over the next decades to not more than 1.5C instead of the 2C as agreed upon by most other states. Moreover, it was heartmoving to sit down and listen to the speech of the youth delegate from Philippines who was speaking on behalf of his one week old daughter. He said “when I speak on behalf of her, I speak on behalf of the entire world”. He spoke about the world that his daughter is going to confront and what the current generations owe to the upcoming ones.
As a conclusion to the 1st day, around 15 hours being active related to COP21, took its toll on us, but all the speeches and activities of the day, made me very optimistic about the entirety of this process, and at least the people I spoke with agree with that. Yet that was something everyone expected, right?! It was about setting the stage in the best way possible. Whether it is just the hype and inflated speeches, or all those careful chosen words and presentations are grounded in concrete action that we need to see come about during and after COP21, remains to be seen. What is definitive however, is that the proceedings and negotiations over the next few days are going to find even more critical ears as more and more people are tuning in to #cop21 and the workings of the Climate Summit in Paris 2015.
By Marcel Llavero Pasquina
In the morning, I attended the Daily Tck with Anna – a very cool Catalan contact with lots of media coverage. She will be a great resource to find our ways through COP! The Daily Tck happens everyday at 10.15. It is framed as an open assembly, having a friendly and fun attitude, where everyone can share intelligence facts and points from the policy and actions highlights of the day. It is a great opportunity to network and partner up with a wide range of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Then I sat down in the streaming room to follow the opening of the Heads of State ceremony. I was encouraged by the speech of Hollande. It was great to listen to such advanced narrative, even taking perspective on Climate Justice, in his intervention. I, and many CSO fellows have shown agreement with his words. Nevertheless, I have felt that a stronger link between historical responsibility and people in serious threat and under-capacity can be taken. But it is already a major step to reflect on such topics.
In the afternoon, I ran to the Spanish PM press conference, I found Anna there again. The PM was carrying on in an obvious greenwashing tone, and it looked clear that both media and politicians in the room were only focusing on the coming elections on December 20th. Funnily, I just read on the news that the PM was giving explanations of why is he not attending an electoral debate, with no reference to climate whatsoever in the media piece. But it was actually not a fail move from my side. Following Anna I could get to know the journalist team for TV3, the most popular catalan TV. Lesson learned: surround yourself with experienced people and if you want media coverage go find them where they are, at the press conferences! We also ended up following a couple of very interesting actions with Jonathan Nylander, the Fossil of the Day, that was awarded to Belgium and New Zealand for inaction on climate. This event will happen daily at 18.00 in observers hall and it is a lot of fun! The other event we want was to show solidarity with and support is the declaration of the Climate Vulnerability Forum. The forefront demand in the action was to contain the temperature rise below 1.5C by 2100. Full support!
By Jonathan Nylander
In the early morning, I attended the YOUNGO meeting where they presented the group, how it is working and what working groups are currently active. In the end of the session, the two focal points, one from the North and one from the South, concluded the meeting with a more radical message, to reflect on the lack of diversity here, to reflect on privilege and to think of “what the fuck are we actually doing here?”. It seemed like a reasonable outcry for someone who has been involved in the COPs for 5 years and not seeing much progress. Just before lunch I attended a press conference with the Third World Network where both Indias and Chinas head delegate were present to inform the crowd on their stance. Both countries referred to the historical responsibility of the developed nations, but also presented ambitious domestic pledges.
Stefan from P4 Uppland called me up on Skype and interviewed me for 5 minutes which ended up to a 1 minute, 3 question interview on the afternoon news.
Me and Marcel attended the most interesting session of the day, the Climate Vulnerable Forum where we heard speakers from Bangladesh, Costa Rica and the Philippines. The countries first connected in the common issue of being the most affected and vulnerable countries in the world, but have now a new common interest. This new narrative is one of leading the transformation into a low-carbon economy as all the countries mentioned have taken steps to use domestic resources to start their process, not waiting for funds from any climate funds. Simply doing what they preach.
By Lisa Plattner
My day was full of heads of states :). In the morning Lander and me were trying to get to see the heads of states very close, when they took the ‘family picture’. Luckily we had a glimpse at Obama, Putin and Merkel, but security was everywhere and mostly blocking the view. This day was dominated by the 150 heads of states who arrived at the conference center ‘le Bourget’ in the morning. Throughout the day every single one of them gave a speech, where they addressed their nation’s thoughts/goals on combating ‘climate change’. The area where the speeches were held, was restricted. We could only enter with a ‘special badge’. Thanks to our friends from Earth in Brackets (www.earthinbrackets.org) we shared a badge, so more people could see the speeches live.
It was very fascinating to make live observations and compare the speeches to each other. There was a clear distinction between the global south and global north, which we already knew from our weekly group meetings, as a preparation for the COP21. But the common opinion throughout state representatives, whom I had observed, was that they all aim for a ‘legally binding agreement’. Especially the French President Hollande emphasized that ‘an agreement must be reached on the 12.12.2015’. The secretary general Ban Ki-moon also reminded the heads of states that ‘civil society expects leaders to show their leadership’.
In the afternoon several speeches got my attention like Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced that ‘Sweden will be the first fossil free country on earth’ or the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi gave hope for the future ‘in our belief that the people and the planet are inseparable. By 2030 India will produce 40% of its energy by non fossil fuels.’ Some shocking numbers came from the PM of the Bahamas, Perry G. Christie ‘damage created by hurricane Joaquin last month cost us more than 10% of our national budget’. The Bahamas are particularly vulnerable to climate change. It was impressive to see how countries of the global south especially, like Guinea, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya emphasize their responsibility when it comes to climate change. But some of them point out that the global north has to take the lead and the responsibility in setting actions to avoid dangerous climate change.
Sunday November 29
First Video log by UU student delegate Jonathan Nylander – Arriving in Paris and COP21
Uppsala University’s delegation to COP21 is comprised of researchers, students as well the Zennström visiting professor in climate change leadership. Read more about the student delegation here.
Events in Uppsala
Don’t miss tomorrow’s live stream #1! Follow COP21 and the student delegation live at the Earth Sciences Library. A number of events will also take place in Uppsala where students on the delegation and Zennström visiting professor Doreen Stabinsky will share their insights and reflections during and after the negotiations. Full program is available here.
Check out the latest updates on Facebook and Twitter below. #uucop21 Tweets