Saturday, December 12 – We have an agreement

Today was my travel day back to the United States. It was also the day that the final draft of the Paris Agreement was to be released — and the day thousands of climate activists had vowed to flood the streets of Paris in defiance of a ban on demonstrations by the French government — both happening around noon.  With my flight from Paris to New York leaving at 10:30 a.m., I was in the air for nine hours, plus an additional six hours due to changes in time zone – putting me out of communication for a crucial 15 hours.

Lots of legroom in business class

Lots of legroom in business class

Fortunately I was able to upgrade to business class for the long flight, which meant I could actually sleep a few hours after staying up very late packing,  But by the time I landed in New York at 8 p.m. Paris time, 2 p.m. local time, I was desperate for information.  My friends on social media were only too happy to supply it.  The negotiators at COP21 had reached an agreement — by most accounts a good one.  The French government at the last minute had issued a permit to climate activists.  My feed was flooded with stories and analysis about the historic Paris Agreement, my email was overflowing with reactions from NGO groups, and my friends were posting photos and videos from the day’s events.


The photos and videos from the demonstrations organized by and others are amazing, and remind me of the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City.  I am so glad that the French government finally came to its senses and allowed people to express themselves.  Perhaps they had no choice, as literally tens of thousands of activists were in the streets, and there would be no way to arrest even a small percentage.  Perhaps this chain of events shows people like Naomi Klein know more about activism than I do.  When she urged people to take to the streets in mass numbers, they did, and they won.  I was now sorry that I couldn’t get an extra day at Place to B, but then I’m also glad to be home.

My Paris flight landed 45 minutes late in New York, giving me only half an hour to go through customs, collect my luggage and recheck it, get to the other side of the airport, go back through security, and find my gate.  I got there two minutes before the plane was to take off, but it was already gone.  It took me awhile to rouse up someone at an American Airlines counter to rebook me, and when I did they were incredibly rude.  Air travel has become extremely stressful and unpleasant.  On the other hand, the three-hour wait for the next flight gave me time to get a good dinner and catch up on all the COP 21 news and reactions.  Here is some of what I found.

Paris Agreement

UNFCCC – Final agreement

UNFCCC – Press release

Video – Fabius bangs gavel on COP21

President Obama – Video statement

White House  – Press release

Ban Ki Moon – Statement

Saturday actions – Video – Photos

Citizens Voice – Video

Greenpeace – Video

Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben – Facebook live

News stories 

The New York Times – Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris, by Coral Davenport

The Washington Post – 196 countries approve history climate agreement, by Joby Warrick and Chris Mooney

Politico – The one word that almost sank the climate talks, by Andrew Restuccia

Think Progress – In Historic Paris Climate Deal, World Unanimously Agrees To Not Burn Most Fossil Fuels, by Joe Romm

Mother Jones – Breaking: World Leaders Just Agreed to a Landmark Deal to Fight Global Warming, by Tim McDonnell and James West

Guardian – Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era, by Suzanne Goldenberg et al

Al Jazeera – World leaders make history with climate deal in Paris

BBC – COP21 climate change summit reaches deal in Paris

Carbon Brief – Analysis: The Final Paris climate deal


Sierra Club – Sierra Club on the Paris Climate Agreement: “A Turning Point For Humanity”

Citizens Climate Lobby – With Paris agreement adopted, climate action begins in earnest

James Hansen – James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’

Bill McKibben – World leaders adopt 1.5 C goal — and we’re damn well going to hold them to it

Climate Action Network –  Civil society responds as final Paris Climate Agreement released

International Council for Science – Top scientists weigh in on current draft of Paris climate agreement

The Conversation – Historic Paris climate pact reached: Experts react

After 22 hours of travel, I am happy to be home.

After 22 hours of travel, I am happy to be home.

Monday, December 7 – Earth to Paris

Earth to Paris

Me at Earth to Paris

The highlight of today was the Earth to Paris conference.  Joe Robertson of Citizens Climate Lobby had told CCL volunteers about it a few weeks ago and asked that we attend if possible.  At the time, all registration was full, so I applied to attend as a member of the media, citing CCL’s Citizens Voice as my media outlet.  Last week I got a message that media spots were taken but I could register as a regular attendee, which I did immediately. Later I got the registration link from Place to B, which was good for about a day before registration closed again. So I was happy to get in.

Sylvia Earle and Jane Goodall

Sylvia Earle and Jane Goodall interviewed by Jeff Horowitz.

I had picked up my badge the day before, which helped with getting in. Still had to go through the security line though, which took awhile.  Finally I was in.  The conference had already started but was still on the welcoming speakers.

The lineup was pretty amazing. Announced speakers who I had heard of included:

  • Jane Goodall, UN messenger of peace, and Sylvia Earle, National Geographic explorer in residence, talking about forest and ocean degradation and conservation
  • Jerry Brown, governor of California, and Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate, on political strides in California
  • Bill McKibben, founder of, and Emma Ruby Sachs of Avaaz, on the climate and environment movement
  • Joel Sartore, National Geographic photographer and founder of Photo Ark, giving a 10-minute version of the talk he gave at Ohio State last year
  • M Sanjayan, vice president of Conservation International who produced the Nature is Speaking videos. He will speak at Ohio State this spring.
  • Anthony Lake, president of UNICEF, and Angelique Kidjo, singer and goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, on the effects of climate change on children
  • Gro Harlem Bruntland, former prime minister of Norway who invented the idea of sustainable development. She spoke at Ohio State this year.
  • Alec Baldwin, actor who presented the UNDP Equator Prize to Mayan leader Cristina Coc, who spoke at the Mershon Center last year.

Those were just the ones listed on the program. Late additions I didn’t know about before that day included UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and a 20-minute one-on-one interview with Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Paris all week for the climate conference. I got photos and video and live-tweeted most of the event.

I didn’t know all of the speakers going in.  One who I didn’t know about was Dr. Laura Stachel, a doctor who started We Care Solar to bring solar suitcase lighting kits to hospitals in underdeveloped countries that had no electricity.  Simply having light during births, especially at night, cut maternal mortality by 70 percent.

The conference wasn’t over until 7 p.m., at which point I went back to the same restaurant as the night before, Le Bis Repetita.  It was just as good the second day as the first.  I had thought about getting in a swim that evening, but was too tired after the long day to do anything but go back to the hostel and fall into bed.