Editor's Note: Pulse environmental columnist Sandra Kurtz and Sierra Club Student Coalition youth reporter Wenona Kunesh are in Paris, attending the UN Climate Change Conference. They are filing periodic reports when they have a free moment.
The Climate Generation space is very active. While working the Student Coalition booth, the 4D viewers arrived to hand out. This cardboard contraption allows you to view specific videos from an app called RYOT. As you move it, you can get a panoramic view of the whole scene. People have really enjoyed these.
As part of my journalistic work, I interviewed a teacher from St. Paul, Minnesota. She is here with a set of teachers calling themselves Ambassadors for Climate Change. They are all wearing matching jackets.
One of my favorite things in Paris is the Christmas Market on the Champs Élysées. It’s a street long festival with many small booths full of gifts for family and friends. At one end is a huge ferris wheel and at the other is the Arc de Triomphe. I have spent lots of Euros there.
I’m enjoying the weather here and also the food. Temperature doesn’t change much around 46 degrees. I haven’t tried snails and don’t think I will, but the crepes are awesome.
The Sierra Club booth was busy. People want to know how they can change matters in their own villages and communities to reduce carbon emissions We met a Scottish member of the British Parliament. He represents the area where John Muir, the Sierra Club founder, was born. There’s a John Muir museum there. He had an excellent grasp of the need for climate change action and the resistance to it by the powers that be.
We later heard from Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada leader and Member of Parliament. She is a COP21 delegate who is close to the negotiations. She filled us in on some of the thinking going on as the agreement is being finalized. She was concerned that language around treating indigenous people equitably had been moved. The phrase ‘environmentally and socially sound’ is still in the document, but shaky.
They are arguing over NAFTA and TPP and there is concern about India as a wild card. Of course who pays and how is a big issue. Should there be a carbon tax, fee and dividend, or cap and trade arrangement? Once the document is completed at this level, it is sent to the COP21 President Minister Laurent Fabius who will then do some horsetrading to get all to agree.
The goal stated for COP21 is to produce a document that will set up a framework for each country to devise carbon emissions reductions as part of a global goal thereby keeping the Earth’s temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.
Some have said “One point five to stay alive” for this half a degree difference avoids the melting of the Greenland ice sheet that will result in a 6-8 meter sea rise thereby devastating many islands and low lying lands.