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  • People Power. The 6th Blog from Bonn

    Posted on November 15, 2017

    It is amazing how the Bonn Centre, where all the exhibitions and pavilions are based, has filled up at the start of the second week. There has been talk of 25000 expected at the COP but it seemed relatively quiet during week one. All that has now changed and the queue at the German Pavilion for their free coffee has rendered the coffee not worth the wait!

    I hadn’t planned on going to this side event but this poster outside the room was sufficient to draw me in. A great many more statistics were shown or talked about including the fact that if we got rid of all livestock it would reduce emissions by more than the total emissions from the US! It is a leading cause of climate change and is forecast to continue growing.

    It certainly made me think twice about eating beef and lamb, particularly the former when I learnt that beef and cows require 10 x more resources per calorie than any other category of livestock.

    A sad statistic of which we were informed is that a billion people in the world are malnourished while a further billion are overweight.

    I failed to get to this side event on ‘No more Coal’ owing to the number of people with the same idea. This was largely due to the fact that there were no less than 3 US State Governors speaking including Jerry Brown, Governor of California, though I did see him outside in the corridors of power!

    It is clear that many of the American states are continuing to pursue a non-fossil fuel approach despite their leader pulling out of the Paris Agreement, and that would seem to be borne out judging by the numbers of Americans that are here. And they are doing well.

    The US is already at least halfway to meeting its 2025 Paris pledge. The majority of their emission reductions have come from the electric sector, where the country has been retiring coal-fired power plants and replacing them with clean energy.

    Jerry Brown, US State Governor of California

    Monday afternoon was taken up with finding my way to the BBC Studio and participating in a discussion with three others for a programme called ‘Costing the Earth’. I am not sure how the BBC got hold of me but I agreed to do it hoping to have the opportunity to spread the word about INTO and why we are represented at the COPs. In the event I did but sadly the editor did a great hatchet job and removed most of what I talked about!

    I attended another COP Presidency event in the evening entitled “2050 Pathways to Prosperity and a Safe Climate”. Once again the Fiji Premier was there and there were a number of key quotes:

    “Make decisions as if the future matters, not for short term expediency”.

    “The common element amongst us all is that we need to commit to action”.

    “Clean energy has to become the norm; the technology is there, the prices are down it simply requires commitment and action.”

    “The production of meat causes 30% of world emissions”

    A picturesque view in the corridors of power!

    On Tuesday I attended an interesting side event in the Indigenous People’s Pavilion ‘Promoting Renewable Energy Deployment in Harmony with Nature’. I was particularly keen to be there to meet with the moderator, Edward Perry of Birdlife International, whose name has cropped up at previous COPs and with whom I had previously corresponded.

    Much of the focus was the effect of wind turbines on birds and, in particular, bats. Indeed one of the speakers, Andrew Streit from the EUROBATS Secretariat of UNEP (its true!) gave his talk from the bat’s perspective. The bottom line was that before planning a wind farm it was essential to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment.

    Prior to that I had been to the Fiji Pavilion once again to listen to a side event on ‘Innovative Climate Financing for Adaptation and Resilience in Developing Countries’. This was hosted by India. I have found that it always helps to ask a question at the end of a side event in order to mention INTO as it often leads to further networking opportunities. In this case I spoke afterwards to, Smt. T.S. Raji Gain, the Chief General Manager of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and mentioned the work that SK Misra was doing with rural communities through the ITRHD. I promised to put them in touch with each other.

    Yet another COP Presidency Event on Tuesday evening, once again hosted by the ubiquitous Premier of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, this time entitled ‘Towards a Resilient Future: Frontiers of Risk Sharing’.

    Once again we were told that action had to be taken now to build resilience for the future. Hurricane Winston had caused a loss of 30% of the country’s GDP. Few were insured against the disaster. The chances of such extreme weather events are 3 x as high now as in 1980.

    Laura Tuck, VP of Sustainable Development for the World Bank, told us that 90% of vulnerable countries experienced drastic storms between 1995 and 2014; that 26m fall back into poverty worldwide each year through climate change they were aiming to nullify world poverty by 2030.

    The Prime Minister of St Lucia was on a later panel and I was tempted to ask about Dolphinaria and Pigeon Island, particularly as he stated that the environmentalists must work and have dialogue with insurance businesses, but there was no time for questions!

    Allen Chastenet
    Prime Minister of St Lucia

    There is great anticipation that today, (Wednesday) there will be an announcement from Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, about phasing out of coal in Germany. However there is some concern that she may come empty handed if leaked papers are to be believed. Apparently their CO2 emissions are on the increase for the second year in a row and at best have merely stagnated since she took office 12 years ago.

    Looking about as tired as I feel, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel! But what was she saying? For the answer read the next blog!

    Oliver Maurice 15 Nov 2017

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