Category Archives: COP21

Bird’s Eye View of the Climate Movement ©

By Suzanne Maxx

Eiffel Tower Peace Symbol - 100% Renewable 06.12.15 © Yann Arthus-Bertrand _ Spectral Q

A Message of Freedom and 100% Renewable Energy from Paris. Hundreds from around the world unite in a giant message of freedom, standing with the people of Paris and calling for 100% renewable energy, during the United Nations COP21 Climate Summit. Can you spot us? We from World Team Now made up the rays on the left side of the image. Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Spectral Q

COP21’s victory signals to the world that global transformation is in the works with adoption of the Paris Agreement by the United Nations.  It’s historical to have almost 200 nations agree to take action, “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” a UN goal.

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COP21 Convention Space at Le Bourget.

Those of us breathing inside of the global climate movement over the years know this moment is a win— a valuable step and an important place to start.   At Le Bourget, the French Foreign Affairs Minister, Laurent Fabius brought his green gravel down to tears of joy and applause for the agreement exclaiming, “It’s a small gavel, but I think it has a big impact!” With the perspective getting diverse entities consisting of countries from different regions of the world to agree on anything is significant. We at least have set a course and direction together.  Many of the outcomes we considered in our prior blog post were covered in this agreement.  Here is the text of the Paris Agreement. Here it is made simple to digest. Here are some more of our favorite articles and speeches, that break this historic time of the Paris Agreement down to understand:

Within the global environmental movement, there are many people that have been on the journey for decades— each of us has a piece of this puzzle— that are core to who we are, and it lives outside the boundaries of a location, as it is for our earth, and all of humanity.  This consciousness is now becoming contagious, thankfully— as it will take teams of people, industries and many sectors of society for the transformation to take root.

The stage is set for our World Team project, and next year 2016, we plan to be public facing with our World Team platform.  World Team will be an interactive tool to entertain us while playfully engaged in transformative projects achieving the realization of our most ambitious and collective goals for humanity, and our planet earth. It is not only technology, innovation, policy and funding that will change the global game of our changing climate. The game starts to change when all people are aware of the power of human capability of choice. Change will occur when we choose to prioritize how we use both our internal and external energy.  When we prioritize living in better balance with our resources, we will then play the game to transform ourselves and our world.

The co-located Climate Generations Areas, open to all,  was a first for the COP meetings. In prior COPs, Civil Society had open side events  that were distant from the UN negotiations.

Even in celebration there is caution that clouds this historical time, which finally acknowledges humanity’s role in climate change, and sets forward a plan of action. If we can’t get to 1.5 degrees, stop destroying our forests, heating and acidifying our oceans and eliminate burning fossil fuel today we are writing ourselves a death sentence. The framework is now in place to start the journey to arrive there tomorrow— it was a successful negotiation.   As Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon said, “This a time when we need all hands on deck”.  Multiple sectors are taking active roles in also setting targets, and here is the key; team work, over time, with ALL of us in action. This thread was there at the events happening at COP21 during this time in Paris.

Akapusi Tuifagalele Director National Disaster Management of Fiji, a SIDS

Akapusi Tuifagalele, Director National Disaster Management of Fiji (SIDS), with Suzanne Maxx & Albert Boulanger of the World Team project.

It’s exciting when leaders of countries agree to take a stand, and actually strive for targets and a framework for an agreement.  Can we move to a firm 1.5 degrees quickly enough to reverse the damage of climate change?  When we will phase out fossil fuel?  Our oceans and forests, all species together in balance— how soon can we achieve rapid change? Will there be justice for the indigenous people, and those of small island developing states (SIDS) in the long run? Now we have some agreed upon goals.  Can we overcome the antiquated categorization of defining a country by developed, developing, and least developed? Will each country begin to support the other with sustainable development based on what they are able to contribute, as the reality takes hold of cliché, “we are all in this together”?

The seeds of reaching the answer to these questions in reality are planted. How quickly we can reach these targets, and more will be the long term success of the Paris Agreement.  All is not there in the Paris agreement yet, but it starts with the will— we celebrate these milestones even though the real work has just begun.

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Ban Ki-moon preparing to talk at the Earth to Paris Conference during COP21

Now to have all countries ratify the Paris Agreement so it becomes legal structure— whether that be a Treaty, Accord or Protocol.  The opportunity for world leaders to sign, and ratify the Paris Accord begins in New York on Earth Day April 22nd, 2016.   All leaders will have one year to endorse it, but early participation is being encouraged.  The plan looks to not just meet the deadline, but also to indeed demonstrate the will and understanding of urgency for all of us to keep the work moving fast forward.   The Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, is charged to organize the activities around the signing on Earth Day.

Basic CMYKWe will need more action over time, the government sector with public policy is needed, but the real change will require many other sectors, to jump into the action—and we will. It will be the collective cumulative action that matters most over time. World Team plans to officially announce our first team in 2016 and we
plan to officially begin our media platform.

There was a thread to all events happening at COP21 during this time in Paris. It’s exciting when leaders of countries agree to take a stand, and actually strive for targets and a framework for an agreement.

For decades we dreamed of this day when countries might all agree on action for our future.  It is a collective starting point to a commitment of an aligned global direction for humanity.  The Paris Agreement will need work but much of the direction we are going collectively has seeds that aligns with the vision that many of us hold in our hearts for a sustainable future. We are now challenged to follow the Golden Rule Principle too, as Pope Francis encouraged in his UNGA and USA Congress speeches. Now to unpack many of the principles of how we will realize the change for our common home, and integrate them throughout our policy, and ways of life— this is the challenge.  The challenge of not only of the Paris Agreement, but for humanity at this time on earth.

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These “Trees of Hope” outside COP21 produce renewable energy by their leaves turning to generate sustainable wind energy turbines.

Our Energy on Earth: People of Power @ COP21 Paris Stepping Out Beyond Boundaries ©

By Suzanne Maxx

At the coming of age with the United Nation’s COP21, there was a climax from the collaboration, of not only nations, but also, with civil society.  The power of the people to deliver the messages creatively captured the true spirit of the renowned artistic and cultural mecca Paris, France.

The Paris terrorist attacks  happened literally the day the plans for the people’s climate march and other NGO activities’ press releases were set to hit the global media. All activities planned for this period of time in Paris were then colored by the darkness of fear.  Initially there was concern about what could actually take place under this “climate”.  Most of the outside public events for people, with venues in the streets were canceled, understandably with the security concerns of safety.  Security was heighten and restrictions were imposed.

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Suzanne Maxx rolls on a plane to Paris

The initial activities that World Team Now planned, with our goal to launch “World Team” during this time, became impossible.  Quite frankly we, like many others, did not know we would be able to make it to Paris for COP21 at all, our efforts seemed thwarted, until it was all actually happening.   After finally making a plane to Paris, I was pleased to be able to board with my roller skates on, the most efficient way to travel through these long international airport terminals, demonstrating human powered renewable human energy for sustainable transportation.

 

We’re all getting used to rolling forward regardless of external circumstances of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  We were not alone—this was a common challenge to many others who have the understanding of what is at stake for our planet and humanity breathing through the core of their being.

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The sunshine rays in the aerial art piece below. World team members were in one of them. The photo was shot by Suzanne in one ray viewing other rays and the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop and part of the aerial art design.

There are moments in life that live outside of time, which cut to the core and encapsulates a spirit.  With our bodies on the ground, sitting on the yellow strip of cloth on the sand to emulate a ray of sunshine, we became the font of the aerial art image captured in this photo which has become an icon of COP21 Paris.

Eiffel Tower Peace Symbol - 100% Renewable 06.12.15 © Yann Arthus-Bertrand _ Spectral Q

A Message of Freedom and 100% Renewable Energy from Paris. Hundreds from around the world unite in a giant message of freedom, standing with the people of Paris and calling for 100% renewable energy, during the United Nations COP21 Climate Summit. Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Spectral Q

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Raising World Team’s hands in celebration of the Paris Climate Agreement at Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile

One of the more engaging conversations at the Earth to Paris Conference was with Andrian Grenler, Actor, Entrepreneur & Dell Social Good Advocate, Paul Bunje, Lead Energy and Environment XPrize , and John Wollard, VP of Energy Google

One of the more engaging conversations at the Earth to Paris Conference was with Andrian Grenler, Actor, Entrepreneur & Dell Social Good Advocate, Paul Bunje, Lead Energy and Environment XPrize , and John Wollard, VP of Energy Google

In many ways it was more than a reunion for many of us that began this journey in Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit/Global Forum in 1992, where the seeds of the UNFCC’s Conventions began. Paris COP21 was the opportunity to complete this long term collective goal. Back in 1992 at the first Earth Summit/ Global Forum, I don’t think any of us thought it would take this long to get an agreement for humanity and our environment, and after COP15 in Copenhagen many of us wondered about the possibility of the United Nations to agree on what matters most. Many of us were traumatized, as we headed home for the holidays confronted and bewildered with unmet expectations— this was a common theme over the 21 years, if not longer for some of us.  Back then, it was a relatively small team of us that journeyed, not because it was our job in a convention sense, but because the future of how humanity lives in balance with our resources was a central precept to each of us, at the core of our beings.

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Secretary of State John Kerry was also one that attended the Earth Summit Global Forum in 1992

The first time I journeyed to a United Nation’s conference with the hope of global policy was for the Earth Summit Global Forum in 1992, where I stepped into an incredible opportunity to join presidential candidate Jerry Brown’s entourage.  Powerful people who were leader were all part of our group. Many of these people have gone on to become not only world leaders, but also leaders of what is referred to now as the global climate movement.  Some of those people that have been around the global climate movement and part of the personal journey with World Team which made it all more meaningful for us at Paris.

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Earth to Paris, UNESCO’s Afternoon with Robert Redford

Meeting of indigenous people at one of the many side event in the Climate Generations Areas

Meeting of indigenous people at one of the many Civil Society side events in a Climate Generations Area

A mosaic of the people’s movement from Earth to Paris, UNESCO’s Afternoon with Robert Redford, and other civil society events helped to augment the action demonstrating the power of the people. Many groups, like the International New York Times produced events like their Energy for Tomorrow.   Many individuals and groups found ways to join together and creatively express their voices. With the world watching these events from many diverse sectors and groups of people succeeded.

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Suzanne Maxx outside the COP21 Convention Space at Le Bourget.

What is truly remarkable is the capability of the human spirit to preserve and endure. While celebrating, the climate movement, I can personally attest that while we are now climbing to these heights of possibility, it was not easy-and we still have a long way to go to touch down to the ground. We have had some success in Paris with our casting initiative and look forward to being in action in 2016/

Finally, French authorities allowed a peaceful gathering of Climate Justice activists towards the end of COP21

Finally, French authorities allowed a peaceful gathering of Climate Justice activists towards the end of COP21

The Climate Movement’s Moment ©

By Suzanne Maxx

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Outside COP21 with the flags of the United Nations.

LE BOURGET, FRANCE.   Fortunately here at COP21 there is no longer the question of if climate change is happening, check out this slide show.  It now is a question of how quickly we all can act to meet the challenge, and when we will have strong global policy. COP21 was supposed to end yesterday, but true to the history and form of the complexity of these agreements, it is still in process.

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Photo of Suzanne Maxx by Albert Boulanger for World Team Now at Climate Generations Area

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) holds annual meetings of the delegates Conference of the Parties (COP) and each year it grows older, left without a process to manage the world’s actions, climate change’s impact on our world increases.  COP has come of age at 21 here in Paris, now it is truly like a 21 year old— legal but not yet quite responsible— perhaps an appropriate metaphor for the upcoming results of the much anticipated Paris Convention/Accord.

The bottom up approach to each country choosing what they are capable of contributing seems to be working with the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) all countries submissions are public here. COP21 had a jump start, and with the delivery of so many INDCs, COP21 was set on a fast track to global transformation, which lit the fire of possibility to “dream the impossible dream.”

On the opening day of the COP21 when the family photo of world leaders was taken, and Mission Innovation was announced, all eyes saw the possibility of transformational global policy. Clean Energy Innovation R & D will be doubled by 20 major economies with the help of the private sector.  Billionaire Bill Gates at the helm of an impressive Breakthrough Energy Coalition that reads like a “who’s who” of game changers helps Mission Innovation.

With so many world leaders in Paris for the beginning of COP21 the stage of this conference was set to change the game. In 2015, there were multiple preparatory conferences all producing a draft of the policy. The regular meetings increased the chance that all could agree here in Paris, and we would have global environmental policy.  Historically, the leaders would arrive at the end of the COPs after a few weeks where their representatives would try to negotiate a deal.  This year’s COP was different, not just because all world leaders agreed to come at the beginning of the COP, having worked out what they are able to contribute on their own, but were standing for the success of finally attaining climate policy. To have these world leaders in the same place after the vulnerable attacks here in Paris demonstrates a commitment to the statement: “There is no darkness that can overcome the light.”

Photo Credit: Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Spectra

A Message of Freedom and 100% Renewable Energy from Paris. Eiffel Tower Peace Symbol © Yann Arthus-Bertrand  / Spectral Q

The people, NGOs, and corporations also set up a powerful approaches to action, including a massive march planned for the Global Climate Movement. However, many Paris events were canceled, including the climate marches after the terrorist attacks, and subsequent state of emergency.  Fortunately, the Global Climate Movement adapted with action around the world. We used our bodies as a font in the Eiffel Tower aerial art piece,  that 300  of us or so took part in, led by artist John Quigley and Dancing without Boarders,  This event miraculously prevailed and has become the iconic image of COP21, gracing the cover of many  publications. Other powerful events in Paris for this COP21 time frame were pulled off successfully augmenting the action over at Le Bourget’s COP21 conferences like “Earth to Paris,” and the “Energy for Tomorrow Conference’’ hosted by the International New York Times.  The Green Zone public “Climate Generation Area” allowed all people to be involved in the action, and there were some solid panels like “Energy Matters,” sponsored by the International Energy Agency.

Global Emissions Target of 1.5 degrees Celsius is what’s needed by at least 2020— it was needed yesterday — so ideally with a pre-2020 five year review and calibration. The target date may end up being 2050; this is one of the points of conflict in the negotiation.  Will this be a realistic target that sets us on a trajectory that honors what we know to be true about climate change, and how it affects not only human health, but also the balance of all species on earth? The other sensitive point is: when will the energy transition occur?  We would like to see 100% renewable energy by at least 2050. A firm date of when to phase out of fossil fuel is at the root of this controversial debate.  The majority of countries now agree that 100% cut of fossil fuel will happen, but by when— is the question.

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Courtesy of Climate Generations Area COP21

The forests and oceans breathe for our planet— they are more than our lungs.  Together they are teeming with the bio-diversity— the flora, fauna, and all necessary for our human species. survival.  We are waiting for the text of the final document to have language about the commitment to zero de-forestation globally.  Our oceans need protection from acidification, and warming temperatures—this is imperative to take into account, and have specific measurable results in mind, along with global emission targets.  We need to have goals for our oceans, islands, and responsibly embrace policy that is accountable for not only our air, but also the land, waters, and people. Global policy that allows all people to belong to the earth is needed, especially when whole nations, island states like Tuvalu are being annihilated by our collective use of resources. Justice is needed to balance the poor Small Islands and Least Developed Countries who are most affected by the results of climate change, with richer nations sourcing the problem.

Fossil Fuel subsidies are going to be phased out globally— much to both the dismay and celebration of many people and industries.  Why subsidize the most profitable global industry anyway?  Old paradigms can be hard for some to let go, yet our future depends on embracing this renewable energy transition, and also how fast we can move on a large scale. More than a trillion dollars a year— just think of how quickly we could change the energy game with those same subsidies going to renewable energy or into the Green Climate Fund. The 100 billion annual contribution to the Green Climate Fund would become a reality.

Naturally, it will be better to have an ambitious framework with a big enough vision for growth and change.  There needs to be checks and balances in place — most likely discussed in more detail next year at Morocco COP22.  An independent agency will need to be formed organically to both check and enforce agreed upon targets, much like the International Atomic Energy Agency reports to the Security Council.

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Wind energy captured by these faux trees –outside COP21 Paris–sustainable device for biodiversity

The long term key will be the enforceable, critical language added, and systems put in place to realize the outcome of the global goals. It will take time to work out the logistics of how we live into these objectives collectively.  That is why this is a convention with the goals to have a framework to build out over time, so it reflects the truth of what we are collectively committed to achieving. Transparent, enforceable global policy with mechanisms, systems, and a structure that we all— all nations and all people— can live into after COP21.  This will take more time than allotted at COP21— that is why this is a process.  This process can direct global markets, as well as steer the re-prioritization of our collective values— this is where change can take root. Here is a copy of the yesterday’s draft doc, and some of the key sticking points . It may take years to realize the “how,” but at this point, what is important is that we agree to common global goals and objectives that will set us in a direction to live into our future.