Monday: Momentum, negotiations and big ideas
Today was Monday at COP21 and the place was definitely more alive than yesterday. Delegates began the day by hearing from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who called the conference a "week of hope" and emphasized that its compass should be aimed at achieving consensus.
It remains to be seen if the compromises needed to achieve consensus will also achieve justice.
I attended a fascinating session this morning on fossil fuel subsidies and climate change that drew a large crowd to one of the bigger meeting rooms. The point was made that while $490 billion US dollars are currently spent each year to subsidize the fossil fuel industry, which is five times the $100 billion that world leaders are trying to raise by 2020 to fight climate change.
There was also a fair amount of discussion at the session about the incoherence of policies that put a price on carbon and at same time subsidize the carbon fuel industries. If governments subsidize fossil fuel, it makes transitioning to renewable energy more difficult. There's lots to think about. Imagine, I heard, if you ran a marathon and got a 50-metre head start. That is more or less the impact of subsidizing fossil fuels. I think the conversation in Yukon on this could be quite rich.
The Canadian delegation briefing gave the impression that there's increasing pressure on negotiators. I heard later from friends in the labour and NGO movement that Canada's negotiating stance on matters like justice, equity and Aboriginal rights was seen as strong by other countries -- and that there are more powerful forces that do not want these concepts in the agreement. I hope to find out more on the negotiations tomorrow.
Later, I attended a session at the Nordic pavilion on the rise and risks of green financing. The panel included an investment banker who pioneered green bonds, and others who offered some good insights into the growing importance of these financial instruments.
I also ventured over to an exhibition of low carbon solutions: a separate venue featuring an amazing array of technologies that ranged from highly sophisticated to quite innovative but low tech. Held at the French air museum, it took two buses and two separate security checks to arrive on-site. (And it's strange to see a huge rocket pointing to the sky as you glide up in an electric bus.)
And! My day was capped by an evening talk featuring Canada's own Naomi Klein and newly-minted British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke at a union event on energy democracy.