Un Jour de Congé

A much quieter day today although it zapped by and I hardly stopped ‘catching up’. Sad! Got to Le Bourget early but hit absurd queues – half an hour to get in, then even queues to the computer desks – there are just 1000s of people here and everyone gets hungry – the food queues are just daft and by the time you get to the head of the queue, all the veggie food is invariaby gone (not that that upsets the French much – and the whole thing really is TRÈS français!).

On the way back last night, I sat in the crush of the (free) navette shuttle to the metro next to a charming Malaysian negotiator (Elizabeth, she allowed me to know!), who soon put me sraight on my pathetic superficial reference to palm-olive forests – they’re plantations, silly (and the UK, inter alia, set them up – but the Malaysians have draconian and enforced legislation in place to protect deforestration. Equally pathetic was my attempt to exhibit bravado to the two ‘Men in Black’ opposite me from Saudi Arabia, ostensibly here to represent their Government’s investment into renewables. They somehow were not prepared to talk about the effect of the Saudi oil price ‘fix’ on US fracking and Canadian tar-sands – but I admired my tact …….

But today, it was just an internet troll and catch up, although I did still hear some fascinating presentations on the Big Screen behind me, one particlarly on global water-level rises, courtesy Google 3D projections. I think the link is ‘changes climate sea level rises’ – there’s lots there.

I was also very pleased to meet up with the inspiring Keli Yen, the new co-ordinator of the Global Greens, with whom I was able to talk contructively at last, face to face, about the forthcoming Global Greens and EGP congresses here in the UK in 2017. We really must get some momentm going on this pretty soon – s’gonna be BIG!

However, we need some photos don’t we – random OK?

Two naughty agent provaocateurs scrawl salutations on walls, just before mayhem breaks out at Place de la Republique. No connection.
Two naughty agent provaocateurs scrawl salutations on walls, just before mayhem breaks out at Place de la Republique. No connection.

And then there was one….

Having failed to get past the security on Monday morning at Le Bourget COP21 site (hardly surprising with Barack Obama, David Cameron, et al. arriving at the same time), Ricky and I headed back into Paris. Meeting the Climate Guardian Angels was a wonderful experience – so inspiring to see young people so committed to achieving change!

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Packed my bags and loaded my bike and cycled to Gare St Lazare to catch the 13.45 train to Caen; the train was able to cover what took us three days a little over two hours. That’s modern transport for you!

Had a weird experience at Gare St Lazare; was just walking past an advertisement for The Netherlands (Pays Bas in French), when I noticed in the picture a white campervan which looked like mine. On closer inspection of the registration plate, it was mine! The photograph was of the causeway across the Ysselmeier which closed off what was the Zuider Zee in the 1930s. The picture must have been taken in June this year when Nona and I were en route to Scandinavia and had decided to drive across the causeway in northern Netherlands. How strange was that?!

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Anyway, the rest of the trip back home (ferry from Caen to Portsmouth, train from Portsmout to Penmere) was straightforward. Now it is down to Ricky, and everyone else at COP21, to help reach a meaningful binding set of climate change targets! Slight feeling of sadness at not still being in Paris to experience the daily unfolding of events as the world’s politicians grapple with the task of attaining climate justice and equality for all – including future generations, and all species, not just humans!

Un grand succés!

A text from Daniella alerted me to a possible meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Paris at 13.30 at Le Bourget. Euan will be pleased to know, a little like our search for ‘Place 2B, we really should have persevered on Monday, because just around the corner from the impenetrable main conference site is a massive publicly accessible arena, where it’s ALL happening! Why on earth was this not made clear to people like us? I was SO relieved to find this area – where I the spent the rest of the day!

George Ferguson accepts the Climate Vision Report on behalf of Paris Mayor Mme Hidalgo
George Ferguson accepts the Climate Vision Report on behalf of Paris Mayor Mme Hidalgo

Despite arriving on time, the Mayor’s meeting had finished early and Krugman had departed. However, George was more than happy to receive the report – he meets up with Mayor Hidalgo (she could knock spots of that oaf Johnson, who of course, is not here) and has promised to ensure that the report is handed to her.

 

 

 

Jeremy Leggett speaks at the 350.org fringe at COP21
Jeremy Leggett speaks at the 350.org fringe at COP21

The 350.org forum was so exciting, so full of positivity – the divestment campaign is now all but unstoppable and it is hurting the fossil fuel companies exactly where it hurts – in their shareholders’ dividends. McKibben was brief and fled (very busy man), Jeremy Leggett excellent as usual – but for me the most significant contribution came from Stephen Heintz, President of, no less, the Rockefeller Brothers’ Foundation. Talk about a Damascene (sp?) conversion! Conceding that this concern had made its fortune from Oil, they’re now putting all their efforts not the Divest/Invest campaign. I don’t give a fig that they scent the money to be made from renewables but I actually don’t doubt that they really know that any investment into fossil fuels is a sure-fire loser. It’s happening!

Ségolène Royale, French Environment Minister (and France's 'Hilary Clinton Presidential hopeful still) - addresses a Cities' fringe at COP21.
Ségolène Royale, French Environment Minister (and France’s ‘Hilary Clinton Presidential hopeful still) – addresses a Cities’ fringe at COP21.

 

Luci, I got within 10 metres of Ségolène Royal, but reckon I would’ve been pepper-sprayed if I’d tried to get any closer with the report – sorry!

 

 

 

 

 

Absolutely fascinating presentation from ‘Earth Engine Timelapses’ (try this link for a flavour – but it’s nice to have a facilitator: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIYHGkSb-fU) – as if proof were needed of the mess we’re making of our planet – satellite images of the earth over 30 years – astonishing. And a great panel on electric cars – again, it’s happening – we have to believe it. This time, there’s no hiding place.

Grass roots rising

Here’s my take on why it makes utterly no sense not to be involved in politics – because we can all have an effect, especially locally. Meeting Ferguson yesterday – and listening to the Mayor of Ghent last Friday reminded me of the simple fact that it’s NOT just about the Big Guys (and isn’t it just a sea of male grey suits!) who matter. It’s ordinary people – we have proven that to enough with the Climate Vision report: thousands of cities around the world are taking the lead, thousands of groups and organisations and businesses are picking up the dropped climate change challenge baton, knowing that it makes perfect business, employment, financial, social and moral sense.

So today, a bit of a ‘rest’ day, I cycled down to l’Hotel de Ville by Notre Dame, where the City of Paris has an outdoor public exhibition demonstrating all the city is doing to encourage and support the growth of functioning sustainability in its remit. Excellent stuff – and entirely logical, not just for George to take back to his own city of Bristol, which is one place which is ripe and ready for just the sort of things Paris (and so many other cities) are yearning to embrace – but also for smaller communities.

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Solar on every municipal building; all municipal transport electric/hydrogen; embrace all forms of renewables, including ground-source heat pumps; insulate all homes; healthy food in schools and residential homes, hospitals etc; powerful liaison with local firms and landlords to improve private practice (it goes on). We have to invest in our future and that includes investing in the communal infrastructure, such that our communities can live and thrive sustainably. I reckon the knowledge, the incentive, the potential is all there, lurking in some brilliant minds. Where is the leadership? Well, there’s a whole lot more in our cities than there seems to be in Westminster.

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C’est un petit monde, n’est-ce pas?

Great to have now seen the excellent posts from my sadly missed colleagues, who have brought our adventure up to date. Ewan – the perfect update, topped and tailed with the ‘continuation’ in Bristol with Molly and Tony (The ‘Mayor-to-be’?!) – thanks, mate: lovely.

Getting reliable and durable internet connection here is frustrating – but I seem to be in – and hopefully, might even affix some photos this time. There is SO much stuff on-line streaming out of Le Bourget – as Ewan alludes and as the EGP updates confirm, there are some fantastic speeches coming our way. I refuse to even think it’s ‘Greenwash’ ……… yet! But this time, the whole world really is watching – there will not be another hidey-hole for the US and China (and India?) to bolt into like in ’09. The venue itself is ‘temporary’, near the old airport. Thought you’d like this ‘confirmation:

Palestine on the main stage - at last!
Palestine on the main stage.

So just for today’s Blog, I’ll digress to the title. It started yesterday morn, just before Euan had to leave and we were trying to gate-crash the party (er, unsuccessfully). We chatted to the ‘Climate Angels’, the only ones seemingly demonstrating at the actual venue; they did catch Al Gore’s eye tho’ – he came in via the ‘plebs’ entrance. Google them – FoE, Aussie-based – delightful. One of them just so happened to be the daughter of the best friends of my German teaching colleague from my sabbatical in Victoria in 1999. You can see how chuffed we are! 19 yrs old and utterly committed to saving the planet.

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Later, at the ‘Place 2B’ near the Gare du Nord (Euan – you’ll be pleased to know I found it at last), I was just drinking a glass of water (as you do) when who should I spot but Ruth and two mates who had cycled with 13 others all the way from Bristol (hey, they had carbon-support with all their bags! Cheating!) – Ruth had joined us last year on our Brussels minibus trip to see Molly. Great. They were awaiting the arrival of the red-trousered philanthropist, the Mayor of Bristol, here to cavort with the Mayor of Paris and join in with the ‘Covenant de Maires’ (sounds vaguely black magic). I must ingratiate myself with them and try and get a CV report to Hidalgo! Wow!

So off we go, there to meet up with the others including Darren Hall and partner Charlie – and there already with the BBC crew was Paul Barltrop. George walks up – SURPRISE! And with him was our own Daniella. Not even remotely staged – no way! (sorry about the orange tint and my Hi-vis ‘halo’ – which has slipped a bit):

A Chance Meeting at La Gare du Nord with George Ferguson & Daniella radice, mayor and Deputy Mayor of Bristol - plus a bunch of Westcountry Cyclists!
A Chance Meeting at La Gare du Nord with George Ferguson & Daniella Radice, Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Bristol – plus a bunch of Westcountry Cyclists!

I’ll lave it at that fro the time being – although there was one more really weird thing that happened at Gare St Lazare, as Euan and I bade good-bye. I know I’m here to report on the talks – yeah, right – but, as said, it’s everywhere – I’m just blogging some stuff ………