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Author: Taylor McNair

Youth at COP21

Youth at COP21

Among the tens of thousands of visitors descending on Paris this December for COP21, a significant cohort of those will represent what has long been a marginalized, unheard, and relatively ignored group of individuals. However, for the first time, figureheads are claiming that our youth generation will play a paramount role in the fight against climate change. So how are young people acting and engaging in Paris this year?

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Making History

Making History

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195 nations agreed today on a framework draft of a crucial component of the UN Climate Change Negotiations. The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) was sent to the COP President for further negotiations. The document now serves as the draft for what will soon be an international accord on climate change, to be discussed next week by national ministries. This 48 page text will be refined and negotiated over the next five days, culminating in a final Paris Agreement on December 11th. Stay tuned for more!

A Day in the Life…

A Day in the Life…

Despite what you may think, we’re not discussing climate change over lunch with Obama while Narendra Modi cracks jokes about CO2 levels. In fact, the majority of the 40,000 people that have flocked to Paris for the COP will never even witness the negotiations between world leaders. Though this is obviously a crucial part of these next two weeks, the COP has much more to offer. Some may even argue that the most important work is being done outside the formal negotiation rooms. Read on for a day in the life of a student delegation.

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Carbon Pricing at COP21

Carbon Pricing at COP21

From a business perspective, carbon pricing at COP21 is arguably the most exciting news to emerge from the first few days of the conference. Day one of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris included a high-level press conference which called on the world’s governments to begin proposing carbon prices as a policy tool to dramatically impact greenhouse gas emissions. The Carbon Pricing Panel, convened by the World Bank president and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, simultaneously launched the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which comprises over 80 partners from all sectors, including governments, civil society actors, and private companies. The coalitions argue that a carbon price provides the best opportunity to successfully scale up renewable energy innovation and investment in clean technology, all the while continuing to push world economies forward. As World Bank President Jim Yong Kim states, “there has never been a global movement to put a price on carbon at this level and with this degree of unison.”

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Day One Inside COP21

Day One Inside COP21

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) kicked off yesterday with a high-profile Leaders Events attended by close to 150 Heads of State. Unprepared for what the next 10 days would hold, Naomi and I searched aimlessly for the entrance to receive our UN accredited observation badges. It wasn’t until a swarm of people surrounded the incoming Al Gore that we realized we were in the right place. Less than five minutes upon entering the Le Bourget conference sight and we had already spotted the first high-level guest…this is going to be an exciting 10 days.

While we are apparently not high-profile enough to sit in on the Head of State opening statements, we quickly realized that almost everyone around you in the conference has just as much of an influence. We found ourselves having lunch next to what appeared to be an unassuming, random gentleman. It wasn’t until he was approached by four others, and then a Time Magazine and Fortune correspondent, that we learned we were in the presence of an expert on climate action in India.

The COP site is overwhelming. Exhaustively so. Our day began at 8am and ended at 9pm, with little downtime. The sheer amount of activity and energy is enough to keep you going for the entire day. The venue is sprawling, with events grouped by type spread throughout hangars. Beyond the formal negotiations, which begin Tuesday, there are countless side-events covering every range of climate related topics, ongoing exhibitions, press conferences, and more. We quickly learned that our pre-planned itineraries would be useless. There is simply too much to draw you in.

The beginning side-events focused on a number issues, with common key issues strewn throughout. While I remain hopefully optimistic about the outcomes of COP21, a few themes will arise as particularly contentious. Among them are:

  1. Common but Differentiated Responsibility: The notion that all nations owe a common responsibility to address climate change, but a differentiated response based on how much they have contributed to the issue. Crucial to the negotiations will be to what degree developed nations contribute versus developing ones.
  2. Climate Finance: Where will mitigation and adaption climate finance come from? Will it fall into the hands of the private sector, developed nations, or additional funding?
  3. Loss + Damage: Developing nations will stress that they must be compensated or funded for the losses and damages that will occur due to climate related impacts. This idea goes beyond adaptation, in the sense that some amount of damage is bound to occur, and countries must have the funding available to respond.
  4. Implementation: Much will come out of COP21. What will be crucial is how to focus on implementing the results, keeping countries accountable for their emissions and INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), and perhaps most importantly, tackling these issues immediately, as opposed to waiting until the 2020 timeline.

While this is just a small list of the many issues that will arise, these ideas are sure to be key points of negotiation in the coming days. As the conference progresses, I’ll be here to provide coverage of specific side-events and developments within COP21.

 

Naomi charging her phone with COPs bike powered charging stations
Naomi charging her phone with COPs bike powered charging stations