Time is of the essence as the COP countdown continues in the city of lights. The international community is making final preparations for a historic UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris this December. The world has been preparing for Paris for quite some time. The Road to Paris campaign was launched at COP19 in Warsaw. Finance, business, and government leaders established an initiative to develop solutions to climate change at COP21. But what is Paris up to as the conference looms closer?
President François Hollande fired the starting pistol at the Palais de l’Élysée in September during the first of several events featuring France’s commitment to climate change. Monsieur le Président commented, “France wants to set an example. We have already taken some steps like those mentioned by the ministers…but we have to speed up our efforts to become a carbon-free economy…” About one week earlier, Hollande disclosed that France may fail in its bid to craft a new international agreement at COP21. French prime minister Manuel Carlos Valls Galfett added, “the stakes are enormous.”
In France, the Secretariat-General assembled a civil society relations team to lead the charge in preparing for and organizing COP21. The team has consulted all representatives of the civil society constituencies, requesting any thoughts as to the the programming and organization of the Paris-Le Bourget Conference venue. According to the 117 responses, participants think COP21 should cater to younger generations via educational workshops and exhibitions. Most respondents also voiced a desire for accessible conference rooms to foster debates and discourse among parties.
France selected the expansive and accessible Paris-Le Bourget site to host 40,000 COP21 attendees. The venue will be divided into three areas: the conference center, the climate Generations areas, and the gallery. The conference center is the big cheese of the COP21 locations. It is “where the success of COP21 will be decided.” This area is open to accredited guests and operates 24/7. The climate Generations area is accessible to the public, providing an arena for debates and discussions. The gallery is reserved for professionals and offers an overview of climate change solutions developed by companies.
The entire country is enthusiastic. Just this past May at Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers, 200 students participated in a public simulation of COP21. The organizers arranged a “political, diplomatic, scientific, and artistic experiment” aimed at teaching young people to understand and transform the climate change scene. Sciences Po launched an initiative to prepare for COP21 called “Make It Work.” This project combines creativity and political activism.
The French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy created an opportunity for citizen participation that will unite and mobilize civil society. The crowd-sourcing platform allows all French citizens to join in the climate change debate.
Some worry that COP is not getting enough attention. According to a Forbes survey on Google search statistics, the international media community has “failed to spark any interest in global warming.” Worse than neglect is the negative attention COP21 is receiving from climate justice activists. According to a report by the global EJOLT project, activists have voiced their intention to “hack, resist, and confront…false solutions” and inactivity at COP21.
Negotiators from all countries will meet in Bonn on October 19th for the last time before COP21 to hopefully address any remaining concerns.