Ian Lumley reports from #Cop21Paris

10th December 2015
Press Release

An Taisce has a few members attending CoP at various times over the two weeks. We are bringing you a frequent series of background reports on what is (or is not) happening on the ground.

You can see them all at http://www.antaisce.org/articles/whats-happening-on-the-ground-at-cop21

This evening, Thursday 10th December 2015, a report from Ian Lumley our Heritage Officer

Ian Lumley – An Taisce’s Heritage Officer

Today provided the opportunity to focus on what was going on in the national pavilions with had nearly continuous "side" events on top of the back to back press conferences and seminars in the 10 general conference rooms.

For an observer at COP21, it is worth comparing the public image projected by individual countries in their pavilions and participation in the side events with their political negotiating position, and the action or lack of it on climate.

It is a feature of international events of all sorts to have ostentatious exhibition stands with laminated surfaces and elaborate instillations with graphic and visual images which are discarded as waste afterwards. The Le Bourget venue has huge open high ceilinged spaces used for exhibition and trade fairs. The French organisers provided a modular design for the subdivision and spaces needed for the overall event using unpainted plywood for pavilion stands and enclosed areas to project an eco-chic image, with the sheeting, to be "recycled", whatever that means, afterwards. Most of the national pavilions and delegate meeting room spaces followed this model.

The US has a spacious open pavilion in red white and blue inside the main entrance. This has an active programme of talks and videos, with very good presentations on climate science and new technologies. However, despite the presence of President Obama last week and Secretary of State John Kerry this week, Congress remains in the control of vested coal oil and big agri business interests.

The China pavilion follows the simple plywood sheet design with no graphics to convey a message. Inside is a continued sequence of very focused seminars and presentations focusing on investment and technology use. However, China is now the leading global climate polluter and wants to continue increasing emissions to 2030.

The Indian pavilion ignored the French plywood guidelines with a complex instillation in a multitude of materials and giant video screen with the main message "Promoting Clean Energy". The stand as well as the presentation of India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar presents a vision of renewable investment, but avoids mentioning the massive programme of coal mining expansion and power plants. The simple Japanese pavilion just bears the message "Japan Transformation to a Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Society". Both Japan and Korea maintain active meeting spaces for presentation.

France, as host, has a large central and well-designed multi space pavilion with simple use of unpainted plywood and the slogan "We have the solutions" It has an actively used meeting, press and event space with the very visible presence of Environment and Energy minister Seglonie Royal. The exhibition area has simply and effectively communicated information about a wide range of climate actions and initiatives, which would take some time to absorb and appreciate properly.

Germany’s pavilion bears the slogan "Below 2 Degrees Together We'll Make It". It is designed as a café conveniently opposite the EU delegate meeting rooms. This is combined with an enclosed seminar room with a high focus on energy efficiency presentations The other larger EU countries have plywood enclosed delegation rooms and did not invest in pavilions. Ireland along with the remaining EU countries, shares delegate and meeting places.

The pavilion of the Gulf Co Operation Council, comprising the Emirates and Saudi Arabia is in the style of a flashy hotel lobby with video screens. One provided by Amoco the Saudi state oil company presented a computer generated model of petrol cars "capturing" and compressing CO₂, which would then be offloaded into compressed thanks when the car bought petrol which would then be transferred to an elaborate carbon processing facility.

Brazil did not have a pavilion but their communications at the side events are marked by the promotion of its ethanol biofuel industry. The Sate Brazilian Investment Bank presented an alarming video with massive multi line highways magically rebranded as sustainable because of ethanol fuel content switch.

Morocco which is the host the next summit COP22 next year, has a prominently sited pavilion which regrettably failed to communicate any message. It is designed of laminated red glass in the colour of the national flag more like an expensive instillation from a contemporary art museum. An enquiry revealed that it had been specially commissioned for COP21, but would as least be reused.

So many presentations were going on simultaneously today, as they have done for the last two weeks, that it was only possible to get a flavour of the activity. However I did make time to addend what was a comprehensive presentation by the lead OECD and other researchers on the annual 600 billion euro global fossil fuel subsidy for producer to consumer, including Irish peat bogs.

ENDS

For further information, please call:
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org