It is sunny today in Paris and the hallways are buzzing with optimism. A draft text has been passed from the negotiators to the ministers and the text still includes many of the key aspects necessary for a meaningful agreement. Many challenges remain however, and ministers are working on issues such as loss and damage and the ongoing debate over the relationship between developed and developing countries, and the emissions gap between what countries have committed to and what is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. The role of Canada is notable, morphing from the stance of nemesis of the past 10 years (under the Conservative government) to a voice of environmental integrity, speaking out to advocate for the inclusion of human rights and indigenous rights in the treaty. They joined the call by the Alliance of Small Island States in call for a goal of just 1.5 degrees warming from the more established 2 degrees. In addition, to quote the CBC media channel: for the first time in a decade, Canada has been invited to be a facilitator.
Pathway to Paris concert: two remarkable and historic nights
Imagine Flea on bass, Patti Smith singing, Thom Yorke on guitar, and Naomi Klein and Vandana Shiva on the maracas, all singing “People have the power” together. At the Pathway to Paris concerts, this happened – along with so many other memorable moments. Thom Yorke played new () songs; Patti Smith sung Imagine, Vandana Shiva, Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben each provided a mix of insights and inspiration from the #ExxonKnew trial to the Terra Viva soil manifesto. One standing ovation after another, 3000 people singing along and the remarkable lyrics of Fally Ipupa and the call of Tenzin Choegyal from Tibet. It was an extraordinary two nights dedicated to those working for climate justice as Patti declared, and we will share the official recording once it is released.
Here are some quotes from the night captured on our Pathway2Paris twitter and #PathwaytoParis trend:
Jesse Paris Smith: “Climate change affects everyone and music breaks down the boundaries”
Patti Smith: “Nature is harmony. Nature is what we know yet have no words to say“
“People have the power to dream, to vote…don’t forget it, use your voice.”
“May there not be enough room in the prisons to fill it with all the activists – take to the streets!”
Bill Mckibben: “This is just the right thing for the climate movement: the best musicians in the world are here tonight”
“It is much easier not to care … (artists) have no choice but to be be active …if you care you have to go out of here and to act”
“We’ve done all we can with stats, bar graphs and pie charts – we need you now to be climate warriors in the months ahead”
Dr Vandana Shiva “We will reclaim our commons through care and solidarity”
“Tomorrow we will plant a garden, because our country is this planet, our religion is to love this planet”
“I realised it is more important to plant a garden than to worry about square brackets in UN negotiation text”
Naomi Klein “Climate justice also means care, equality.. and welcoming refugees at our shores”
“(At Le Bourget) They are making a cruel calculation based on the value of human lives … Stand with the vulnerable nations”
“Transition is inevitable, justice is not.”
“There is nothing far off or abstract about climate change when Chennai is now underwater”
“Regular people can declare emergencies too – this is no longer acceptable… We need our so-called leaders to follow”
Tom Steyer “I want to be on the side of the angels…there is no one who is going to solve this problem for us other than us”
Eriel Deranger: Athabasca Chipewyan Communications manager: “Climate justice is the inclusion of indigenous rights and human rights for all”
Thom Yorke: “It’s only this summit where the disinformation campaign conducted by oil companies has finally ceased to work”
Notes from the corridors…
Investors continue to drive change through information and targeted investments. Al Gore launched a panel hosted by Carbon Tracker Initiative, Ceres and others by highlighting the carbon asset risk, referring to the danger of investing in carbon in the context of climate change. Anthony Hobley of the Climate Tracker Initiative presented a new report titled The $2 trillion stranded assets danger zone: How fossil fuel firms risk destroying investor returns. Investors have demanded and instigated ‘2 degree stress tests’ of big oil companies’ portfolios under scenarios in which this critical amount of carbon is kept in the ground.
The opportunity for district energy
The buildings sector is responsible for one third of global CO2 emissions and the share of this sector’s emissions is growing rapidly. To avoid this carbon lock-in cities and countries around the world are employing a combined approach to heating and cooling, focused on reducing demand through building efficiency measures and shifting to low-carbon, renewable supply through modern district energy systems. SSG highlighted the importance of land-use policy in avoiding carbon lock-in on a panel with speakers from Helsinki (heating and cooling district energy), the private sector (Danfoss and Johnson controls), United Nations Environment Program, UAE and the Global Environment Facility, a funding mechanism.
In memory of a great Canadian Maurice Strong
Many speakers across all countries have honoured Maurice Strong, a Canadian who played an influential role in instigating the process that has given rise to the potential for a meaningful outcome in Paris. Read more about Maurice Strong here.