In the aftermath of the horrific events last Friday in Paris, Monday afternoon was rather surreal. Firstly I took part in a teleconference organised by the Global Call for Climate Action, GCCA, (of which organisation INTO is a member) with over 60 people from around the world attending, to discuss ‘What you need to know about COP 21’. I then had to leave the meeting after three quarters of an hour to take part in a candle-lit vigil in my home town of Dieulefit, in southern France, to pay tribute to those who died in the massacre.
The upshot of the teleconference was that the COP will be going ahead though the attendance of Observer organisations, NGO’s etc., may yet be affected. The proposed marches on 29 November and 12 December in Paris have not yet been banned but in view of the State of Emergency which has been declared and which may be extended to 3 months, there is a real prospect that they will be.
Despite all of this there is a degree of optimism surrounding COP 21 that there will be some form of agreement reached in an attempt to limit global temperature rises to no more than 2° above pre-industrial levels, and hopefully less. Everything depends on the will of respective governments to leave fossil fuels in the ground and invest in renewables.
As part of that process countries across the globe have committed to creating a new climate agreement by the conclusion of COP 21. In preparation, most countries have publicly outlined what post-2020 actions they propose to take under a new international agreement known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The INDCs will largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement and is put on a path to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. 150 countries so far have come forward with their INDCs but these will only limit global warming to 2.7°.
In the light of the above, assuming that INTO is still able to be represented at COP 21, I will be there with Anika Molesworth, INTO Farms Project, for both weeks. In our delegation during the first week will be Andrew Potts, CEO of US ICOMOS and Keith Jones, Environmental Practices Advisor for Wales for the NT (EWNI). During the second week Anika and I will be joined by Alannah Ni Cheallaigh-Mhuiri, An Taisce and one other yet to be confirmed.
We will have a stand for the duration of the COP which will provide a useful base from which to advocate our concerns and the steps being taken by our members to mitigate against and adapt to the worst effects of climate change – sharing best practice with others. Any INTO member who wishes to to provide further examples of concerns or best practice please contact me : (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)
Andrew Potts, through his contacts with ICOMOS France, has succeeded in organising a side event/ round-table discussion away from the conference centre at Le Bourget for those interested in cultural heritage, to examine how we might improve the treatment of cultural heritage in the IPCC 6th Assessment Report (AR6) through new collaborations among interested organisations. AR5 states that ‘Impacts, such as loss of ….cultural heritage and ecosystem services are difficult to value and monetize and thus they are poorly reflected in estimates of losses’.
One of the speakers is a member of the IPCC Working Group Technical Support Unit
In the build up to the COP I was invited last week, with 10 minutes notice, to take part in a live debate on French radio (in French !) about COP 21, why I was going and what part individuals might play to reduce global warming. Following on from that I have also been invited to take part in a Climate Forum over two days this weekend which will provide another opportunity to promote INTO and the great work in which our members are engaged.
And finally today I have received an email from 350°.org from which I quote :
« The upcoming Paris Climate Summit is, in a sense, a peace summit – perhaps the most important peace summit that has ever been held.
We need global solidarity more than ever right now and that is, really, what this movement is about. Even as climate change fans the flames of conflict in many parts of the world – through drought, displacement, and other compounding factors – a global movement that transcends borders and cultural differences is rising up to confront this common existential threat »
Let us hope for a brighter future.