Sunday, November 29, 2015

COP21 Preliminaries

On the day before the opening events at the Paris climate summit, there were some preliminaries for many participants.

United Nations climate head Christiana Figueres gathered "civil society" participants, including environmental groups and non-profit citizen organizations, for a briefing on security and related issues.

Over 150 heads of state are gathering tomorrow (Monday) for the start of the conference.  Figueres said that never before have that many "heads of state ... ever, under any circumstance, under any convening power, come together under one roof in one day."  This created logistical and security issues that have been compounded by recent events in Paris.  With all of the security, Figueres said, "there is no safer place on the face of this planet right now than this venue."

Christiana Figueres speaks to Civil Society groups 11/29//15

Figueres was joined by the United Nations head of security for the conference.  He was introduced simply as "Kevin."  Figueres and Keven stressed that they are open to displays of views by participants buy wanted "no surprises."  They explained why, within the secure section of the venue, anything out of the ordinary, including spontaneous demonstrations of any sort, will lead to quick intervention by security personnel.  They did say, however, that they will work with individuals and organizations on ways to show their views that will not surprise security personnel.

UN COP21 Security Head Kevin 11/29/15

Within the secure venue, upwards of 40,000 or more individuals will be registered, including government representatives and non-government representatives from environmental groups, educational groups and institutions, business organizations, and others.

The security outside the venue is also very visible.  Several peaceful legal protests were held in Paris today, including placing over eight tons of shoe in and around the Place de la Republique to represent individuals who could not gather because of new, temporary restrictions on concentrated public gatherings in France.  That didn't stop some individuals from massing resulting in a police response and some arrests.

Riot police get ready to disperse climate protesters 11/29/15

Back at the COP21 venue, transportation options are stressed.  The registered participants were given passes to ride public transit for free during the conference.  Conference vehicles include electric minibusses.

COP21 participants lining up to get transit passes 11/29/15
Electric minibus at COP21 11/29/15

The conference site includes two "wind trees."  The "leaves" are all mini-windmills.  Each tree can produce 4.3 kw of power.

"Arbre a Vent" Wind Trees 11/29/15

I can't write about my first day in Paris without a note of sadness for the victims of the terrorist bombings earlier this month.  At the Place de la Republique, there are an overwhelming number of makeshift memorials and related offerings, including the one pictured below for 37 year old Thibault Rousse Lacordaire who died at the concert venue.  It was hard for anyone, myself included, to avoid tears as we saw the many hand-made tributes.

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