December 1, 2015
Greetings from Paris. Granddaughter Wenona and I are attending the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP21) under the Sierra Club Student Coalition banner helping to encourage action to slow the rate of climate change. In the next few days we will be sending you ‘on the ground’ reports.
The meetings began yesterday with a flurry of world leaders emphasizing the importance and morality of action.
"Never have the stakes of an international meeting been so high, since what is at stake is the future of the planet, the future of life," stated French President Hollande.
In a powerful statement, President Obama said “Accepting this challenge will not reward us with moments of victory that are clear or quick. “Our progress will be measured differently—in the suffering that is averted, and a planet that’s preserved … but the knowledge that the next generation will be better off for what we do here—can we imagine a more worthy reward than that? Passing that on to our children and our grandchildren, so that when they look back and they see what we did here in Paris, they can take pride in our achievement. Let that be the common purpose here in Paris. A world that is worthy of our children.”
196 countries have assembled in Paris to determine a global collaboration. Prior to the conference, 160 of those countries submitted their proposed plans as a framework for negotiations to reduce carbon emissions.
After 10 hours of flying we arrived in Paris and immediately took to the train and metro seeking our hostel - a big challenge in a city heavy with mass transit and people. The hostel is very nice and the people in our 8-person room are friendly.
After getting unpacked, we ate at a traditional French restaurant with outdoor mini-tables. Lots of people were drinking espresso coffee. With jet lag sinking in we walked back and went to bed arising for a baguette, cheese, boiled egg and café au lait for breakfast.
Parisians walk fast. They’re helpful when you are in need. France has organized an excellent Climate Generations Exhibition Hall with lots of eco-friendly people from all over the world. They all support climate change action. I have seen people from Africa, China, Europe (especially France), India, Japan, Philippines, South American countries and of course USA all speaking their native languages.
Members of my Sierra Student coalition are from as far north as Alaska, but I am one of two from the Southeast and the youngest. During the day, I was able to interview a French woman about saving birds from climate change. The French word for birds is oiseaux (say wah-zo).