Wednesday, December 2 – CCEN launch, Eiffel Tower

I woke up this morning feeling pretty awful.  I’ve had migraines all week, and today’s was bad.  I had hoped to make it to a 10 a.m. presentation by the Healthy Climate Project, a workstream within the Citizens Climate Engagement Network, itself a project of Citizens Climate Lobby and Citizens Climate Education which seeks to engage citizen input into the intergovernmental climate negotiating process.  Healthy Climate Project would be discussing what a healthy climate should look like and how we can get there — but I wasn’t able to get there due to a crippling migraine that only got better with a long breakfast, medication, and shower.  Thank goodness my doctor had gotten the insurance company to pay for extra prescription Imitrex, which is the only thing that helps these headaches.  At the rate I am going through it since coming to Paris, I may run out.

Sarabeth Brockley, global strategy advisor for Citizens Climate Engagement Network, speaks at its launch.

Sarabeth Brockley, global strategy advisor for Citizens Climate Engagement Network, speaks at its launch.

For the afternoon I had two choices: I could go to Naomi Klein’s Leap Manifesto, which was pulling in hundreds of people but somehow still had seats, or to the launch of Citizens Climate Engagement Network.  I chose the latter for three reasons: one, because the Leap Manifesto was centered mainly on Canada; two, because it started earlier than CCEN and I was still dragging; and three, because Joe Robertson, the global strategies director for Citizens Climate Lobby, really wanted everyone to come to the launch of CCEN.  Since I am co-leader of the CCL chapter in Columbus, I felt that if there was one CCL event I needed to attend, it was this.  But for those interested in the Leap Manifesto, you can find more information at Democracy NowHuffington Post, and Guardian, and you can read the 15 Demands and sign the manifesto here.

I did make it to the CCEN launch.  The event ran from 1 until 3:30 p.m. and gave me a chance to connect with more of the CCL people in Paris.  Here is what it included:

  • Review of finalized Governance Strategy for the CCEN.
  • Review of the state of play in global negotiations.
  • Review of perspectives on carbon pricing principles, and strategies to use those principles to build value in any economic environment.
  • Participatory working session among attendees.
  • Insights from partners around the world.
  • Announcement of first organizations and agencies to join the Advisory Coalition.
  • Report from Citizens’ Voice team and first days of COP21 Workstreams.
  • Climate poetry, ethics discussion, and sharing of goals for 2016.

Several of the speakers stood out:

  • Joe Robertson, CCL’s director of global strategy, explained what Citizens Climate Engagement Network is and what it does.
  • Sarabeth Brockley, CCEN’s global strategy advisor who also works at the United Nations as a policy analyst for the sustainable development goals, gave us an outline of negotiations.
  • Peter Joseph of the CCL Marin County chapter, explained how pricing carbon can turn the economy from incentivizing all the wrong things to incentivizing the right ones.
  • Jerome Chladek, a marine biologist from Germany, explained the little-known role of oceans in regulating the climate and how our oceans are in trouble.
  • Peter Fiekowsky explained the Healthy Climate Project, so even though I didn’t make it to the event in the morning, I still got some information.
  • Claire Richer talked about Citizens Voice, a video news site for COP 21 to which many of the people in the room were contributing.
  • Several of the CCEN interns spoke including Isatis Citron, Morgan Wood, and Stephen Stoddard spoke.
  • And finally the event wrapped up with readings by three amazing poets talking about climate justice and the unequal effects of climate change on their families.  Their recitation at first felt like a slap in the face, but as they spoke, I came to realize the true human injustices that climate change entails.

Mindy Ahler and Paul Thompson of the Citizens Voice team streamed the entire CCEN launch live, and you can see their video here.  The volume is a little low at times.  You can also see just the three poets here.  You can also see my video of the event, which is of higher quality but unfortunately does not include the poets – my video camera battery died just before they came on.  You can also read a CCL blog post by Sarabeth Brockley with more information about the event and the poets.

After the CCEN launch, I made plans with several team members to cover panels at the Climate Generations space tomorrow, which is Oceans Day.  Then I went out walking in the neighborhood, which was the beautiful Bastille section of Paris.  There were lots of shops and restaurants, but what I needed at the moment was a place to buy some supplies that I had forgotten to pack.  I looked for a grocery store for about 45 minutes before thinking to check it on google.  It turned out there were several within a few blocks — they were just not well marked, perhaps to maintain the historic flavor of the neighborhood.  Once in the store I found what I needed, then looked for something to eat.  I found a small restaurant serving a fixed price meal with an entree (which in France is the appetizer — the entree to the meal), a main dish called a plat, and a dessert.

The meal gave me a chance to catch up on all the email from the CAN listservs and all the news coming out of the climate conference.  It also gave me a chance to simply rest.  I still was not feeling well, and as a consequence had not been able to contribute to Citizens Voice with much other than some social media posts and tweets.


After a leisurely dinner, I decided that if nothing else in Paris, I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, and I had read that it would host a special light show during COP 21.  So I mapped out how to get there and studied the metro routes.  It looked like I would have to take three separate trains to get there from where I was, including one regional train, which as I had found out yesterday going to the COP 21 conference costs more than the internal city metro ride.  I was up for it.  At each stop I had to figure out where to go to catch the right train and get on it going the right way.  But I did it, and never did I feel unsafe traveling by myself even though it was closing in on 9 p.m.

The Eiffel Tower and its light show did not disappoint.  The tower is breathtaking — and huge.  There were no crowds by that time of night, although there was the ever-present police patrol.  I walked all around the area and underneath the tower.  I can see why it was considered an engineering marvel when it was built for the World’s Fair in 1889, and still is today.  The detail in the lattice work is incredible.  The four legs it rests on are huge, and underneath its belly hangs a large ball.  It has two sets of elevators, one to take you to restaurants and shops on the equivalent of the 17th floor, and one to take you to the top, which is the equivalent of about 81 stories.  You can also take the stairs.

I did not go up the tower, but I did take two videos of the light show, one from right below and one from across the Seine.  I also walked along the bridge across the Seine where there were two long rows of plaques discussing climate change, and watched the riverboats full of tourists cruising up and down.  I got a snack at a food stand across from the tower, then reversed the metro trip to head back to Place to B hostel.  All in all, especially given how I had been feeling, it was a worthwhile day.

Monday, November 30 – Opening Day of COP 21

Members of Climate Action Network watch the opening of COP 21.

Members of Climate Action Network watch the opening of COP 21.

Today was a lot calmer than yesterday but no less busy.  It was the opening day of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known for short as COP21.  Because of all the security measures, Le Bourget, the converted airport north of the Paris city center where COP21 is taking place, was closed to the public.  So I went with several members of the Citizens Climate Lobby delegation to the hub for the Climate Action Network, or CAN, a network of organizations from around the world working on climate change.  The CAN hub is about a 10-minute walk from my hostel at Place to B, but my phone got confused at an intersection where several streets came together.  Eventually I found it, and several of us congregated in two rooms to watch the ceremonies, which were being livestreamed on the Internet.

After the so-called “family photo” of all the visiting world leaders, more than 150 country presidents, prime ministers, and other heads of state were scheduled to speak at the Leaders Event starting at noon.  Even though each leader was only given three minutes to speak, there were so many of them that speeches ran in two rooms simultaneously and still went on into the evening.

President Obama speaks at COP 21.

President Obama speaks at COP 21.

President Obama spoke about 12:45 and gave what I thought was an excellent speech.  He called the Paris climate conference a “turning point … the moment we finally determined we would save our planet.” “I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,” Obama said.  He talked about his recent trip to Alaska and called for an ambitious and transparent agreement.  He talked about how this is life or death for island nations and said he was meeting with their leaders tomorrow. He also mentioned the multibillion-dollar investment fund in clean energy research and development to be launched by Bill Gates and others today.

You can see video of Obama’s speech here and read statements by all the world leaders here.

My CCL colleague Chuck Lynd leads the Global Climate March in Columbus.

My CCL colleague Chuck Lynd leads the Global Climate March in Columbus.

While I was listening to the various leaders speak, I was also paging through my social media accounts and saw that my CCL colleague Chuck Lynd had pulled off quite a march for climate in Columbus. As I was trying to avoid arrest at Place de la Republique in Paris, Chuck and others had gotten over 100 people to come out as part of the Global Climate March organized by  I was amazed because before I had left, only a handful of people were signed up.  In less than a week, Chuck got the word out to environmental advocates across Central Ohio, and they turned out in droves, resulting in a great photo in the Columbus Dispatch.  That made my heart sing.

See video of the Columbus march from Carolyn Harding and photos from David Roseman via the Sierra Club Central Ohio Group.

On the frustrating side, the keys on my iPad stopped working.  I had planned to live tweet the Leaders Event, and even posted that I would on my Facebook page. but was unable to.  This was a cause for some panic, as I had not brought a laptop to Paris but was relying on the iPad to do the heavy lifting.  I was worried it had crashed even though it was only six months old.  Perhaps the blog posts and photos from yesterday had worked it too hard.  I wasn’t sure what to do, so I sent out a query through the CAN-talk listserv asking if anyone had a laptop I could borrow.  Most people recommended that I take the iPad to an Apple store in Paris, which I finally decided to do.  One was about a mile away, which gave me my first chance to truly walk around the city.  Once I got to the Apple store, it took awhile to figure out the system for getting some help, but when I finally did, the technician simply told me to call Apple support.  Well, I could have done that from the CAN hub!  But unfortunately I did not buy international minutes from Verizon.

Then I noticed that the operating system for the iPad needed to be updated.  I prayed that would solve the problem and pressed the button.  It was an entire new install of the IOS operating system and took a long time to work. After that, I sat at the store playing with the keys again for awhile.  Eventually I decided the iPad was indeed fixed, though I considered buying a new laptop in France anyway. Posting blogs and processing photos is so much easier from a laptop, and I will not travel to an event like this again without one.  But not only is the electrical outlet on French laptops different, the keyboard is different — it is not a QWERTY keyboard but AZERTY.  So I decided not to.

Members of the Citizens Climate Lobby delegation meet in Paris.

Members of the Citizens Climate Lobby delegation meet in Paris.

Finally tonight I ended up at the dinner and meeting for Citizens Climate Lobby.  Both took place at apartments that CCL members had rented out for the conference through Air B&B.  I’ve never used Air B&B, but after seeing their apartments, I decided to try it next time I am traveling internationally.  Their setup looked much more comfortable than the hostel, which is basically a dormitory, and they have access to full kitchens so they can cook their own food.  This is cheaper than buying every meal out as I have to do.

The highlight of the CCL meeting was hearing from Joe Robertson, the global strategy director, about the launch today of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition.  CCL’s entire platform is carbon pricing, specifically a proposal called carbon fee and dividend that would tax carbon at the source of extraction and return all proceeds to American households.  There is a lot of talk nationally about a carbon tax, but a formal discussion of pricing carbon was taken off the agenda for COP 21 in October.  Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said at the time that countries had too many different carbon pricing schemes for them to be reconciled into one document.

Even so, the launch of the CPLC on the first day of COP 21 put carbon pricing front and center in the conference. Consisting of 15 national governments (including Canada, Germany, and France), five subnational governments (Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and California), and more than 60 businesses (including BP, Enel, and Shell), the CPLC has a goal of adding carbon pricing to all national strategies by 2020 — only five years away!  And they just may be able to do it.  At the launch was a powerhouse of leaders: World Bank President Jim Kim, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Joe saw the entire thing inside the Blue Zone.

CCL has two blog posts about the launch of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Forum, one by Peter Joseph, leader of the Marin County Chapter, and one by Jessica Langerman, a volunteer from Massachusetts.