An exciting prospect: Upcoming Climate conferences

About COP23 and COP24’s locations and what I think about it. Also, looking back at COP22 and forward at a big climate fight in 2018.

So the COP22 Marrakech Climate conference is over, and I haven’t been there. Sure, it would have been interesting reporting the progress or lack thereof one after my big Paris expedition. Also, meeting some of the many nice people, especially from the PlaceToB project should have made me go to Morocco.

Still, I had decided to skip the 2016 conference, which – unlike the COP21 – wasn’t expected to bring great changes. I speculated that COP23, which should normally take place in Asia, might be hosted by China. I planned to go there. First because of the importance of the country in climate politics. Second, because I have a thing with China and know the language reasonably well to get along. I think that would have made for some more good reporting.

Climate leadership: From the USA to China

It turns out, the COP23 won’t take place in China – as a matter of fact, nobody was volunteering to host it. Now I guess the Chinese government was surprised – as we all were – by Donald Trump winning the presidential election. It has become clear that the kind of partial leadership the US took in climate politics will be given up and that there’s room for new countries to draw prestige from being in the frontline of the fight against global warming.

China’s certainly the most interested in this role – and had Trump been elected a month earlier, I bet they would have seriously considered to host the Climate conference in 2017. Bad luck for them… and for me.

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Climate conferences: A dim future? (Bonn – Wikipedia / Tohma / CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Finally, I learned that the COP23 would take place at an enclave of the Fiji Islands, namely Bonn-by-the-Sea. Seriously, Fiji as an Asian country volunteered to preside the Conference whereas it will take place in Germany’s former capital, some 150 kilometers from Luxembourg. That’s goood for me, and I’ll try my best to be there.

I’ve wanted to visit Bonn for some time. It has a kind of United Nations District, with several environmental institutions, notably the UNFCCC secretariat. Also,there’s the Museum Mile, with the Bundeskunsthalle (art) and the Haus für Geschichte (history). Last but not least, there’s the Beethovenhaus.

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Beethoven (Joseph Karl Stieler / Beethoven-Haus Bonn / PD)

I hope the people from PlaceToB plan to set up a project for that conference. As I don’t live too far away and I’m bilingual in German and French, I might be of help with the preparations and the communication in Bonn.

COPs, next stops: Beethoven, Germany, then Chopin, Poland

Beethoven is one of my favorite composers, but I’m also a big fan of Slavic music. So when I hear Poland, I think of Fryderyk Chopin, and also of Henryk Wieniawski. The reason I mention this is, the government in Warsaw has volunteered to host the COP24. As far as I understand, this is a proposal, not yet a decision.

Normally the 2018 Conference should take place in Eastern Europe, but because the preceding conference is already located in Europe, this might be changed. Should it take place in Poland, I think Wroclaw (German name: Breslau) might be chosen (after 2008 in Poznan and 2013 in Warsaw) – the city has been the European Capital of Culture 2016.

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Chopin (Maria Wodzinska / National museum Warsaw / PD)

Anyway, while the COP23 will be transitional, the COP24 will be really important and conflictual. 2018 will be the beginning of the Facilitative dialogue, which is meant to bring the countries commitments in line with what is needed to remain below the 1.5 degree target. How much more needs to be done will be more clear thanks to an IPCC report to be published that year.

COP24 might see a big fight, and may represent the last stand if humanity is to avoid a massive climate change that may cause anything from an unprecedented economical crisis up to the extinction of the human species.

An all-important climate conference at a „climate dunce’s“ place

Should the Climate conferences take place in Bonn and somewhere in Poland in succession, that would symbolize a core problem of the international climate policy: There are highly motivated countries like Fiji and Germany, but there are others that keep a hidden agenda, like Poland. The Eastern European country depends on coal for its energy production and for economical and social reasons tries to keep mining as long as possible.

Clearly, organizing the all-important COP24 at a „climate dunce’s“ place will make for interesting discussions. And although Poland is some 1000 kilometers from Luxembourg, it’s still quite close – I just have to be there!

 

À Paris, sauver le climat en un jour

IMG_4452Réveil en sursaut. Si mon train arrive à Paris pour midi, ne devrait-il pas partir vers 10h ? Il est 9h passées !

Je remplis ma valise à la va-vite. J’attrape le bon bus. Je me rends compte que j’ai oublié ma carte SNCF, heureusement mon billet est dans mon portable. Et, à 10h10, le TGV part avec moi dedans. Ouf !

Arrivé à PlaceToB, je dois attendre qu’on libère ma chambre. Je me familiarise avec le bar de l’hôtel, le Belushi’s. Excellente quesadilla, excellent rouge.

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Je retrouve ma chambre. Je comprends pourquoi ils appellent ça « cabine ». Et que ce serait plutôt le Belushi’s, mon bureau. Allez, à part l’exiguïté, la chambre est correcte. Petit repos, petite sortie : acheter du thé, du savon et une carte prépayée. Qui fonctionne dans mon ancien téléphone acheté en Chine … nostalgie des aventures en solitaire !

Vers 18h, je décide d’assister au PlaceToBrief, le meeting quotidien du projet. Sans projet précis, pour me mettre dans le bain. Je ne regrette pas.

COP21, dans quelles eaux ?

Au sous-sol, un véritable studio de télé, avec des modérateurs et modératrices qui ont l’habitude de faire ça, parfois un peu trop. En deux heures j’ai eu droit à :

  • une myriade de bouts d’information audiovisuellement mis en forme
  • des redites bien sûr, mais aussi pas mal de blagues et de jeux de mots
    (oui, la COP a lieu en France)
  • un grand enthousiasme de la part de la plupart des intervenants

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Bon, les chaises étaient pas très confortables, mais j’ai sagement pris des notes jusqu’à la fin.

Le sujet était l’océan – j’arrivais pas en complet novice après la relecture de l’article d’Andreas. Les informations, les noms d’ONG, certains intervenants avaient une valeur utile considérable. Mais ce n’était pas, à mes yeux, le plus intéressant.

Ce qui m’a épaté, c’est que jusque dans un sujet aussi spécialisé, des questions fondamentales aient fait leur apparition :

  • faut-il mieux éduquer les enfants et ramasser nos mégots (qui vont finir dans la mer, a affirmé un intervenant),
    ou est-ce le système qu’il faut changer ?
  • les solutions techniques nous sauveront-elles vraiment,
    ou sont-elles une tentative d’échapper au modèle qui s’impose : « décroissance au Nord, développement au Sud »
  • le monde des affaires avance-t-il dans la bonne direction,
    ou continue-t-il à contrecarrer les changements nécessaires ?

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Sur les deux premières questions, je rejetterais clairement la première réponse. Sur la troisième, il me semble qu’on est dans un équilibre dynamique. L’attitude des acteurs économiques est un enjeu, mais il ne suffira pas de miser sur leur « prise de conscience ». Il faudra bien qu’on leur tape sur les doigts, la société civile d’aborde, les instances publiques ensuite.

Voilà le sel dans le débat climatique. Voilà ce qui m’a attiré à Paris. Voilà ce dont j’espère rendre compte.