#AWiA2Paris blog 1: action in the face of sobering reality

COP 21 is being held in a large exhibition centre about 20 minutes by train from the centre of Paris. Getting there is easy and the organisation very efficient as from the train station there were fleets of buses to take us to the site itself. Once there we passed through security and found ourselves in a large well lit temporary space, fully enclosed and heated, which housed many small areas of booths, exhibition rooms, lecture rooms, sitting and eating areas and a constant flow of people taking it all in.

Everyone is very keen to talk about their programs, projects and aspirations. Many groups have come to give messages of hope as programs are being rolled out in their countries supporting local initiatives, so while the overall feeling is somber, because some of the statistics about the global changes that are already happening and are being modeled to increase in the future, there are actions being taken, and while the problems are huge challenges, my take away message was that people are not going to be daunted in meeting them.

As one article I read says in part that “climate fatigue has been replaced with a determination stronger than ever before that we, as a society, can come together to avert the threat of climate change [and] it is crucial to harness this positive momentum”.

One such initiative is an “inventory of good practices” being developed by the Nord-pas de Calais region in France … An idea which we could pick up in our own communities. Another idea we heard about was from the City of Bristol where they have developed a game for children using Shaun the Sheep … Check it out of www.sustainableshaun.com  A completely different approach was being taken by a group called Moms Clean Air Force in the United States which claims over 600,000 people involved in a variety of local activities www.momscleanairforce.org

For those (like your correspondent) who value and love our birds, the session on “the Messengers” organised by Birdlife International was a highlight. A report they launched today shows that of 576 bird species globally 24% are responding negatively to climate change; as species are shifting polewards north, away from the heat as well as moving to higher altitudes (landscape we have little of in Australia). Human responses to climate change also impact on species decline and the call was to remain sensitive to ‘solutions’ that may have harmful effects, such as building wind farms in bird habitats. The positive note from this session was that birds can act as connectors with people to mobilize decision making and that local communities have a powerful role to play in supporting local on ground initiatives. This report can be found at www.birdlife.com … Highly recommended.

I came away feeling a little overwhelmed by the global breadth of the issues and the responses; impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the people we met; and looking forward to tomorrow which will have the arts community as its focus. In the mean time check out the Twitter feed #AWiA2Paris …

DS

COP21 and Dani