The time has finally arrived. We're on the Eurostar heading to Paris for the COP21 climate conference kick-off.
On Monday, the world is meeting in Paris to (hopefully) agree a deal that will curb our carbon emissions and avert catastrophic climate change.
The stakes are high. Over the course of just two weeks, we’ll see leaders doing backroom negotiations, and countries from every corner of our planet will be working hard to have their voice heard. Meanwhile, others – be it green NGOs or climate deniers – will be doing their best to influence the decisions.
This is why DeSmog UK has put together a quick guide highlighting some on-the-ground events we're hoping to cover. You won’t want to miss it.
The Official Conference
It all kicks off on Monday 30 November when some 130 world leaders gather outside Paris at Le Bourget conference centre.
Starting at noon, each leader will give his or her address. Some of the most highly anticipated speeches will come from US President Obama, China’s Xi Jinping, and India’s Narendra Modi.
Eyes and ears will also be on two new leaders: Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull. It is an understatement to say that hopes are high that these two will turn their countries’ poor climate track records around.
And, of course, don’t forget the many, many developing countries that are at the forefront of climate impacts. Curious when your country is up? Here’s the UN’s full list.
The COP21 conference is also going to be full – and we mean FULL – of side events taking place alongside the negotiations. From agriculture and forestry to women’s and indigenous peoples’ rights, these events provide a chance to discuss the variety of issues affected by climate change.
This is just a sample of what’s going on. You can find the full calendar here.
In the first week, there will be events on: “The phase out of fossil fuel subsidies and a Paris Climate deal” and “Climate change and children’s rights: Children as vulnerable group and agents of change”.
Things really pick up in the second week, as it’s when most of the negotiators and press turn up. Big names such as Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben are expected to talk, with Klein discussing “Loss and damage – who should pay?” and McKibben speaking on “Keeping Fossil Fuels in the Ground: the International Movement to Ban Fracking”.
Other interesting events include “Climate Justice: Coal and Human Rights in the South, Community Choice Energy, Global Carbon Pricing”, along with the “Role of Oil & Gas Technology to address Climate Change Challenges”.
There will also be discussions involving the US, China, India on “Global Climate Action: Perspectives on Major Energy Initiatives” and “Human Mobility and climate change”.
Watch Out For Greenwashing
But with all the good, there also comes a touch of greenwashing. If this is the sort of thing you’re interested in, you’ll definitely want to check out Solutions COP21. The corporate partners of this week-long expo include big polluters like Engie (formerly GDF Suez), Suez Environment, and Renault–Nissan.
Within the other official side events, there are a couple that stick out as, shall we say, intriguing.
During the first week, there will be a talk entitled “Role of Russian forests in GHG absorption. Policy and measures”. Many have questioned Russia’s pledged climate plan and its heavy reliance on the country’s vast forests as a means of keeping emissions in check.
There are also exhibits going on until December 5 by BNP Paribas and the International Petroleum Industry Environment Conservation Association.
The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) – a Washington, DC-based group that takes a free-market approach to environmental issues and has accepted funding from ExxonMobil and Chevron – will also have an exhibit inside the conference; it will be addressing “environmental justice – exploring how energy policy affects the world’s economy and how climate change policies impact the world’s poor”.
CFACT will also be participating in a day-long conference outside the official COP21 venue with the Heartland Institute. The December 7 event is open to the public and credentialed media.
In a desperate attempt to counter mainstream science, this event seems to be the only one still touting climate denial. Their event will see the likes of Christopher Monckton, Patrick Moore, Willie Soon, and Fred Singer speaking on why they believe humans aren’t causing climate change.
It culminates in a red-carpet screening of CFACT’s Marc Morano film Climate Hustle. You can read all about the film here at DeSmogBlog.
And last but not least, there will be plenty of civil society engagement going on across the city, although the two main marches at the beginning and end of the conference have been cancelled by authorities due to security issues.
Some actions which are likely to still be happening (although it could change) include:
And of course we must be prepared for the unexpected. Given the anticipation surrounding, and the significance of, this climate conference it's a safe bet there'll be many surprises.
If you know of any other interesting events, feel free to comment below. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates throughout the conference, and sign up to our newsletter for the latest news.