The first week is over, the negotiators have spent a hard week-end with french ‘hard-men’, taking some stick to get rid of all those ‘parentheses’, insisted upon by both ‘sides’. Their negotiations has been more transparent than ever before, with ‘real-time’ progress-reports being posted up regularly from all the myriad departments.
The place is just full of loud, super-confident, coherent americans; there are SO many women here too, leading and contributing at all levels. And dozens and dozens of groups pushing their agendas and priorities – it is mind boggling. Apparently there were over 20,000 people in the public arena yesterday – I took a(nother?) day-off and cycled into the city. I just love cycling in Paris – no hills and LOADS of prioritised cycle lanes (shared only with buses and taxis – plus the CRAZY scooters, who are complete nutters!). And the street lay-out is so logical.
So down to the Seine I go, past the Elysee Palace (not stopping there – enough guns to reflate an economy), past the Louvre (I’m sure some eyes were following me), up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, where I decided to keep the video rolling as I cycled round and then parked me bike in the Centre. Mistake. Nearly got arrested – especially as I tried to be ‘funny’ (aka ‘drôle’) – not a good idea, apparently. Anyway, celebrated my instant release by investing in a trip to the top – stunning views on a beautiful clear day – Sacre Coeur, a really Big Pylon, the perfect star-shaped boulevards – gorgeous: yup, you can tell, I’m suffering here.
This whole experience is intensely ‘french’. If COP21 had taken place possibly anywhere else in the world, it would have been anglo-philed – but not here. They are really going for it – yesterday, I volunteered to be an honourary ‘english speaker’ to help confused and lost visitors (‘blind leading the blind’?) at what was a really astonishing event – essentially, the Mayor of Montreuil (a suburb the size of Barnstaple (at least), had donated his patch to host the Alternative People’s Summit. When I got there, the place was empty – but by the time my little posse hit the streets after the briefing, you could hardly move. 1001 lectures to attend / 10-01 stalls to visit.f
As the Montreuil week-end continued today, I moved to help set up the ‘ZAC’ quite close to my digs – a VAST complex of halls and break-out rooms, which will host the ‘Zone d’Action Climatique’ (coalitionclimat21.org/en/climate-action-zone) for the whole of next week, the crucial week when you can bet the ‘pragmatists’ and ball-breakers will start to dismantle an already unresolved draft document in time for the leaders to arrive at the week-end for the obligatory ‘One Minute to Midnight’ signing photo-call. Next week is when we have to be at our most vigilant and exert the most grass-roots pressure. Keep up the pressure and ensure they fear they can’t lose face in the eyes of the world.
The Good News: met the Bishop of California (no less) and gave him a copy of the Climate Vision pledge leaflet – how I wish I’d had a report handy. He blessed us all – how lovely. The Bad News: I missed a live link-up with Radio Cornwall this morning – grrr – the Walls of ZAC were just too thick for a signal. Hope we can hack it later.