Day 4 update on COP21 from our Environmental Practices Adviser – “On Dignity and Determination”

Keith Jones, our man in Paris, gives us his update on Day 4 of the UN Climate Conference…

Today I was looking at the granular level of how people are using props and messages to engage, provoke and debate. Art and imaging is thick on the ground here.  Which is great for making people stop and take notice – but the messages come over best through people talking to people. Overall the mood in COP feels like we are in the ‘lets-find-the-middle-ground-especially-if-the-middle-is-closer-to-me-than-you’ area within the negotiation process. The Have’s want to keep on to their Having and the Have Not’s want an equitable share of the Have’s resources.

The Indigenous People's Pavilion. Powerful words spoken softly. ©Keith Jones

The Indigenous People’s Pavilion. Powerful words spoken softly. ©Keith Jones

I had one of those stop in my tracks moment today. I popped into the Indigenous People’s pavilion which was packed to the rafters with people listening.  In front of me was the President Anote Tong and Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Kiribati and Tuvalu.  I already knew that these and other island nations are right at the pointy end of climate change; last year their first ever cyclone tore into the islands, drinking water has turned saline, year on year flooding, outlying islands disappearing.  Hearing a president stating that they are resigned to the fact that even with only a 1.5C temperature rise their country will mostly disappear and that they are now working on a dignified migration of their nation was incredibly moving.  He was fighting the fight for other nations now already knowing his country is doomed.  Inspiring…. He did not want our pity. He wanted our action!

The huddling is intense here as it’s the full on communication phase of negotiation. Grouping, conversing, plotting, scenario setting and other such huddling terms.  We had our own huddle at the INTO stand with ICOMOS and UNESCO to look at the ‘what’s next’ in getting greater exposure to heritage and culture in the next IPPC climate change report AR6.  I don’t believe it!  I am now fluent in jargon and acronyms.  It’s only been a week!  We’ve been invited to present the issue and discuss the process of developing a climate change assessment publicly on the UNESCO stand on Saturday.

Plenty of elephants in the room. Climate change TV fossil of the day session - highlighting some of the foolish aspects of the negotiations. This one was about the fact that shipping and airlines are not part of the negotiation and their carbon emissions are set to double in the coming years. Good use of props - it got the attention! ©Keith Jones

Plenty of elephants in the room. Climate change TV fossil of the day session – highlighting some of the foolish aspects of the negotiations. This one was about the fact that shipping and airlines are not part of the negotiation and their carbon emissions are set to double in the coming years. Good use of props – it got the attention! ©Keith Jones

Meeting Senegalese people, Indonesians, Congolese and many others today and sharing my own culture and Welsh language.  All had approached to talk of the International National Trusts Organisations ethos and the value of heritage and culture not only as something to be conserved but also as a tool to tackle climate change.  Some traditional farming practices can help in changing conditions, some historic approaches to land management likewise and so on.  Plenty of interest from around the world.

More soon!

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