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.

Sunday, December 6 – Elizabeth May, indigenous flotilla, sightseeing, ECO

Today started with a Sierra Club meeting at 10 a.m., with special guest Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party in Canada, and sent by the new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as part of the Canadian delegation to the COP 21 climate talks. May was president of the Sierra Club Canada for 17 years before going into politics to oppose the previous Harper administration.

Elizabeth May briefs the Sierra Club

Elizabeth May briefs the Sierra Club

Most of May’s briefing to the Sierra Club delegation was confidential, and in any case was so high level and inside Canadian politics that I did not follow some of it. But there are a few things I can pass along that are public knowledge. First, she talked a lot about the difference between 1.5 degrees C in warming and 2 degrees C. It is a big difference. Basically it means the difference between whether some entire nations, especially low-lying island nations and coastal regions, continue to exist. The chant at the conference “1.5 to stay alive” is not just rhetoric. It’s a very real issue for millions if not billions of people across the world (not to mention so many other species).

Another thing May said is that the Green Party of Canada supports a carbon fee and dividend proposal much like the Citizens Climate Lobby proposal – in fact, I think CCL may have based its proposal on the Canadian Green Party. This is the party’s official position. May is not a fan of cap and trade – she said it has a lot of overhead costs and is subject to manipulation, loopholes, and corruption. However, if I understood her correctly, she would prefer to see some form of carbon pricing over none, including cap and trade, which is important because Ontario and Quebec just joined with the California cap and trade market. California says it has learned lessons from the problems with cap and trade in the EU, and that its market will work better. The proof there is in the pudding, and we will see how this turns out.

Indigenous flotilla in Paris

Indigenous flotilla in Paris

After the Sierra Club briefing, I had to choose between two actions. One was at the Eiffel Tower, the other an indigenous people’s flotilla. I wasn’t clear on the Eiffel Tower action (though it turned out to be beautiful), so I went with the flotilla. It did not disappoint. A line of indigenous people spanned the bridge above the Bassin de la Villette canal where the flotilla was to take place, singing and beating drums. Then the canoes and kayaks came in, including the Sarayaku people’s “Canoe of Life” which had traveled 6000 miles to Paris from the Amazon.

Afterward was a press conference. I got in with my Citizens Voice badge and heard several speakers including:

  • Felix Santi (Kichwa): President of the Kichwa community of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon, speaking about the Canoe of Life and the Living Forest concept;
  • Faith Gemmill (Gwich’in & Pit River/Wintu): Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands, speaking on the Declaration to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground;
  • Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca): Native rights activist, environmentalist and actress, speaking on the Indigenous Women’s Treaty; and
  • Ena Santi (Kichwa): Sarayaku Council Member in charge of Women’s Issues, speaking on the Indigenous Women’s Treaty
Indigenous flotilla in Paris

Indigenous flotilla in Paris

They spoke about how indigenous people know better than anyone how to manage resources such as forests sustainably and with respect for nature, about the need to keep oil and gas companies from destroying resources to get to fossil fuels which must remain in the ground, and about a proposal they were presenting to the COP21 conference. See more coverage here.

After the flotilla I went to the Westin Vendome downtown to pick up my badge for the Earth to Paris conference taking place Monday. The organizers highly recommended that we get our badges in advance as that way we could skip the line for admission and go straight to security. I was glad I did as the security line was long enough.

Jardin des Tuileries

Jardin des Tuileries

That put me downtown, which I had not as yet been to, so I took the opportunity to play tourist. First I walked the entire length of the Jardin des Tuileries, which is like the Central Park of Paris full of different kinds of trees. Lots of kids and families were about, and a guy even asked me for directions in French, so I must have looked like I knew what I was doing. At the far end of the Tuileries is the Louvre. I didn’t go in, but I did take some pics on the famous Louvre plaza which includes the modern pyramid. I’d like to find out how that pyramid got built there – it looks very out of place in the 16th century setting. But everyone including me wanted to get photos.

The Louvre pyramid

The Louvre pyramid

After that I got dinner at the best restaurant I’ve been to in Paris called Les Bis Repetita, which I found with the help of Yelp. One thing I like about French restaurants is that tax and tip are included in the price — so no guessing as to what to tip. Then I walked back toward Champs Elysees and saw the Ferris wheel lit up at night, which is a lot bigger up close than it looks from far away.

Champs Elysses

Champs Elysees

Along the boulevard itself up and down both sides was a huge Christmas fair. It was a couple of steps above your local or state fair in cheesiness, but fun nevertheless. There were carnival rides and games, lots of food stands, and stands selling Christmas decorations, jewelry, and the like. It also included several themed areas, such as one farm and zoo area filled entirely with animatronic animals. I wasn’t sure what to think, but it attracted tons of kids, and I was glad the animals were not real. I got the chance to use Fuze with my husband — I showed him the displays over video, while he showed me video of him playing with our very real cats.

Paris ferris wheel

Paris ferris wheel

Finally Sunday night I was on the editorial board for ECO, the daily publication posted by Climate Action Network. Throughout the day, members of Climate Action Network submit articles for inclusion the next day. Those articles go for editing suggestions to the entire mailing list first. Then the editorial board gets them. The drill was to arrive at the CAN hub at 9:30 p.m. and edit stories until they are done. There are up to five people on the board, and it usually takes until about midnight to get through the stories. Most everyone sees every story, so the result is suggestion after suggestion on the text. Then the lead editor, Kyle Gracey this week, combines and reconciles all edits.

One trick is that the stories must be suitable for an international audience, so you can’t use any idioms or special words or phrases that non-English speakers would not understand. The text must also follow all CAN official positions on the issues. I ended up totally rewriting one story because the text was so awkward. Others were very good. It was a fun experience that reminded me of my newspaper copy editing days.

Here are some more pics from the day:

So many badges, but I wish I had one more - to the Blue Zone.

So many badges, but I wish I had one more – to the Blue Zone.








Xingu Chief Raoni of Brazil

Xingu Chief Raoni of Brazil at the indigenous flotilla. Read about him at









Jardin des Tuileries

Jardin des Tuileries

Paris ferris wheel from the Tuileries

Paris ferris wheel from the Tuileries

Christmas festival on Champs Elysses

Christmas festival on Champs Elysees








One of the more popular rides at the Christmas festival on Champs Elysses

One of the more popular rides at the Christmas festival on Champs Elysees







PDA is practically a requirement in Paris

PDA is practically a requirement in Paris