Leonardo DiCaprio, on being presented with the Best Actor Award at the 2016 Oscars, rather than thanking his family etc. said this:
“Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.”
So it was a great shame that when Angela Merkel spoke yesterday (see Blog 6) she was thoroughly lukewarm on the topic of coal extraction in Germany saying it was a very difficult situation. Everyone was hoping she was going to grab the opportunity to announce the end of coal, but no – politics of greed?
Andrew Potts and I were due to speak in the UNESCO Pavilion at 9 45 am on Wednesday but the event had to be postponed as there was a technical hitch whereby the power point presentations could not be shown, coupled with some sort of function on the nearby public stage where noise levels were so high there would have been no competition!
By 11 30 all was calm and computer technology had been restored. It was an audience of quality rather than quantity and at the end there were a number of excellent questions and an exchange of cards for follow-ups. A National Trust for Egypt was mooted and a discussion with a representative of the Mohammed VI Foundation from Morocco could lead to further dialogue and support.
I had arranged to have lunch with Edward Perry of Birdlife International who I met for the first time the day before. It seems that many potential ngos that I have come across both here and at previous COPs are associated with Birdlife and it could be useful to form a wider partnership. For those who were at the Cambridge ICNT you may recall an excellent address by their, then, very new CEO, Patricia Zurita. They are the world’s largest nature conservation organisation with over 10 million members and supporters!
Back at our stand I had various conversations with passing delegates and the home team from GEN and then to a side event on Empowerment for Inclusive Climate Action and Decision Making. The reason for being drawn to this event was because one of the speakers was to have been Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Board of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, who we invited as a keynote speaker for the Cambridge ICNT. I had hoped to meet her for the first time but in the event she did not turn up.
During lunch, Edward had invited me to a reception.at the Koenig Museum in Bonn jointly hosted by Birdlife and Nabu, a German conservation organisation. Founded in 1899, NABU (Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union), is one of the oldest and largest environment associations in Germany. The association encompasses more than 620,000 members and sponsors, who commit themselves to the conservation of threatened habitats, flora and fauna, to climate protection and energy policy. A definite follow up there!
At the reception the keynote was given by none other than ex President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, who appears in the Kiribati film referred to in a previous blog. At the reception afterwards I spoke with him for about half an hour about what life was really like for the inhabitants and their intangible cultural heritage, in the near certainty that they will be forced to move in the medium term or sooner. Even if global warming is kept to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and we are currently on target for 3.4° by the end of the century, it will not be enough and anyway too late to save the islands
One of the huge disadvantages of this COP is that the distance between the Bula Zone, where the high level discussions are taking place, and the Bonn Zone, where all the action is is about 1.5 km. In Marrakech and Paris the two zones were only 500m apart. This means that there is little incentive to make the journey either on foot or in one of the electric or hydrogen powered vehicles provided which go slower than walking pace! So it is very difficult to establish exactly what is going on at the main talks short of what one can read online.
However one thing I have learnt today is an announcement by Claire Perry, the UK Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, and her Canadian counterpart. Under the heading Powering Past Coal the UK and Canada have formed an alliance with 15 other countries and 8 states pledging to phase out coal. As might be expected, in the light of my earlier comments, Germany is conspicuously absent from the Alliance.
Three more side events attended this morning and afternoon and a catch-up lunch with Andrew to discuss closer relations between INTO and ICOMOS, ICCROM and IUCN with which he may be able to assist along with support from Donald Hankey.
I missed the beginning of a side event on the topic of human rights and climate change but arrived in time to hear the inspirational Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim from Chad, the Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, and a friend from previous COPs. What she said fitted well with our own Victoria Declaration so was music to my ears! If indigenous people and their traditional knowledge are to pay a part in our future strategy then she would be an excellent ambassador.
Oliver Maurice 16 Nov 2017