You’d think that being at COP21 would allow you to have your finger on the pulse and provide deep insight into what’s going on. That, I think, is why I’ve been encouraged to blog on COP21.
I’m here exactly half way through, having been here for five days. There’s certainly the buzz, but an intelligent look at the media and UNFCCC websites would probably tell you just about all that there is to know.
I’m one of 40,000 people who have established a small temporary town at the Le Bourget site on the edge of Paris. The ‘blue zone’, accessible to people like me who have got an observer pass, consists of six giant aircraft hangar size halls – two hold country ‘pavilions’ where an endless stream of side events (workshops, discussions) is taking place, one contains meeting rooms and exhibits for observers, one for the media, one with meeting rooms for delegations and one containing offices for UN bodies and the French Presidency plus the all-important plenary negotiating rooms. It took me 24 hours just to figure out the geography.
That being said, the buzz here is actually very good, although there are still major issues to be addressed. The ADP (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) has produced a text to kick off the second week’s negotiations. The second week is the high-level segment where ministers turn up to drive things along. Amber Rudd, the UK’s Secretary of State, arrived at the weekend and will be here throughout the week.
A key issue for many Energy Institute members will be the implications for business. The big players are all here and are taking the outcome seriously. I was in a meeting earlier today with one of the Europe-based oil companies which is devoting a lot of senior time to the event. ExxonMobil has announced that it ‘strongly supports effort toward a successful outcome’ and that ‘putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions is the best option to meet Paris climate goals’.
Some companies have boldly gone further: the ‘B-team’ group of companies – including Virgin and Unilever – have been calling for zero emissions by 2050 and some have backed calls for a 1.5 degrees global warming target, never mind the 2 degrees already agreed under the Convention. At the time of writing, there is a proposal that IPCC should produce a special report on 1.5 degrees. As one of the new IPCC Working Group co-chairs this affects me.
Finally, it’s great place for celebrity-spotting. Yesterday I was at an event on the Arctic addressed by Ban Ki-Moon, Segolene Royal and the Norwegian Prime Minister (plus four Norwegian teenagers who’d skied to the North Pole). Al Gore has been prowling the halls and came to give IPCC a pep talk at our first meeting. And Leonardo de Caprio has been adding his voice. If Arctic sea ice melts what would have sunk the Titanic?
On 15 December, Professor Skea will speak at an EI event in London entitled ‘UN Climate Change Conference COP21: where next for energy policy?’. Visit the EI website for more details.