Climate Talks, COP21 - Paris, Oceans

Because The Ocean

This article is written by Nicolas Pinceloup.

On November 30th, next to the polar boat “TARA” and its robust and majestic shape, with the Eiffel tower in the background, a historical conference was held at the Tara Expedition Pavilion. Well-known political figures attended the conference such as the President of Palau, the President of Kiribati and one of the leaders of the fight for the recognition of the Ocean at the international level, Prince Albert II of Monaco, as well as  delegates and ministers of 10 countries (Canada, France, Fiji, Monaco, Chile, Mexico, Palau, Kiribati, Aruba, New Zealand), which signed a new declaration that brings hope for the other world: our océans.

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Climate Talks, CliMates, COP21 - Paris, Negotiation Process

I thought I was going to the COP – ADP’s life and work

This article is written by Gwenaël Podesta.

The first time I had the chance to attend climate change negotiations, I thought I was going to the COP. What a surprise when I discovered that I ended up at ADP 2.11! A quick internet research told me ADP stands for Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. What a barbaric name… Considering how informative the acronym was, better telling you that I was not really advanced.

I’m sure I was not the only one in this case, wondering what the hell was this ADP all the negotiators talk about, but no one has heard of? Well, let me tell you about this mysterious ADP.

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Children, Climate Politics, Climate Talks, COP21 - Paris, Youth Empowerment

Tackling climate change, a tremendous opportunity to implement the rights of the child

This article is written by Cecile Pilot.

Early September, President Obama depicted a stark future without climate action. During the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic, he urged representatives of more than 20 countries to accelerate concrete commitments to avoid harsh consequences for future generations. He said that if we do not fix the issue of climate change soon, children around the world would be « condemned to a planet beyond repair ».

Photo Sean Gallagher – Everydayclimatechange

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Communicating Climate Change, Road to COP21, The Climate Nerd Chronicles

The Hunger games : the climate change arena

This article is part of the Climate Nerd Chronicles.

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Here we imagine Katniss and Peeta faced with a climate change arena.

« Ladies and gentlemen, let the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games begin ! ». Katniss took a deep breath and looked at the scenery. The tributes were surrounded by water, the salted kind. Behind her, she could see a beach and further away a lush forest, deep green, covering a very high mountain. She started to make a plan in her head : grab Peeta, rush to the forest, stay hidden there and take time to think of a better plan to survive.


Since plans never work as intended, the two friends finally reached the protection of the forest stuck with Beetee, a science weirdo, who kept blabbering about the high concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. All Katniss and Peeta could think about was the heat, and how the shade of the trees would save them from the terrible sun  rays.

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Climate Politics, Road to COP21

Colombia: Green Washing or Environmental Champion? A Tale of Contradictions

This article is written by Héloïse Pichot.

With COP21 looming in, it is time to take a closer look at the national positions on climate change and mitigation efforts. An easy way to do so is to refer to the official stance of the nations in international negotiations; another is to look at the domestic policy and actions. Surely they should be coherent? Well, perhaps not always, as the case of Colombia demonstrates.

Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos at the UN Climate Change Summit 2014 (Photo: EFE)

Why Colombia?

Why talk about Colombia, and not for example Argentina, Morocco, or Thailand? If Colombia is most known for its drug production and decades-long guerilla between the FARCS and the government, it is also a mega-diverse country. Indeed, it ranks second when it comes to biodiversity per square unit thanks to a wide range of unique ecosystems, such as the Sierra Nevada, the paramos, or the open savannas. This already gives a good argument to get a look at what the Colombian government thinks of climate change, wouldn’t you agree?

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Photo Contest

CliMates is very pleased to announce the winners of the last round of our international photography competition

11117769_476764192498700_843989246_nIt was a tough choice between some great submissions, but after deliberating with our two jury members David Bart and Anna Katharina Scheidegger we would like to award the following prizes for the last theme of our international photo competition « Our amazing biodiversity »:

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Climate Talks, Negotiation Process, The Climate Nerd Chronicles

Are the ADP co-chairs rather Hufflepuffs or Slytherins?

This article is part of the Climate Nerd chronicles.Bannière CN

ADP co-chair, what a job to do! The co-chairs are the two persons in charge of creating the best negotiation environment  to achieve an ambitious agreement in Paris at the end of 2015. Here we bring a little bit of our favorite psychology test:

The Hogwarts Sorting hat


What’s the matter with the climate negotiations? At the end of the year, 195 countries, called Parties, should sign the Paris agreement, which will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and define the international climate policy starting in 2020. However, the negotiating text is still too long and full of very different options. And the process to shorten that text is painstakingly slow.

How did we get there?  A 37-pages-long text came out of COP20 that was held in Lima, Peru. It was supposed to serve as a basis for the Paris agreement this year. But this text was heavily criticized by Parties because they felt that the co-chairs pretty much wrote it instead of them. There was therefore a clear lack of trust between the former co-chairs and the Parties. When new negotiations were held in Geneva, two new co-chairs were nominated: Ahmed Djoghlaf, from Algeria, and Daniel Reifsnyder, from the U.S. At the same time, a new approach of the dynamics between co-chairs and Parties was established. The latter were invited to add all the paragraphs they wanted to the text so that every possibility would be in the text coming out of Geneva. This process went smoothly with a clear gratitude from the Parties to the co-chairs for this new way to take into account what they had to say. Then came the difficult part: streamlining. What is streamlining? The Geneva text was 90-page long. The final text agreed upon in Paris should be around 15-page long. In between, negotiators need an intermediary text with different options in order to go back and forth between their national decision-makers and the negotiation room and actually choose the most satisfying options. This intermediary text should have been the outcome of the negotiations in Bonn held in June 2015. Easier said than done.  For anyone who has already been in the large plenary room of an UNFCCC negotiation, in Bonn, it was quite impossible to achieve an efficient streamlining process during the negotiations in June: only 5% of the text was trimmed in two weeks.

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Climate Talks, Negotiation Process, Road to COP21

Is the negotiation process smart enough to bring forth an agreement ?

This article is written by Pauline Fayan.

What is the history of the attempts to control climate change ?

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was ratified. Its objective was to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gas by 5.2% below the 1950 level by 2012. As emissions have not ceased to increase since that time, parties agreed on the need to find a new tool, more effective and which would include all Parties, to manage the post-Kyoto Protocol period. Talks focused on the new agreement to come in Copenhagen in 2009 (COP15). Unfortunately, the 196 parties did not manage to agree. As the trial failed, the Kyoto Protocol has been extended to a second period from 2013 to 2020 but, in 2011, Parties decided that another agreement had to be concluded not later than 2015 to have enough time to act against the global warming.

In Lima (2014), the COP co-chairs proposed a first draft of some 37 pages. When Parties met in February 2015 at the Geneva intersession, they reported that the proposal was not reflecting their views. Therefore, all provisions were submitted and included to a massive text of 88 pages.

The aim of the following intersession in June 2015 was to streamline the text, compiling similar options. In two weeks, parties only reduced the text by 5%. Running out of time, they mandated the United Nations Executive Secretariat to propose a simplified text that would include all ideas.

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Climate Talks, Negotiation Process

The co-facilitator : a crucial, yet often forgotten, actor in the negotiation process

This article is written by Clément Métivier.

Imagine being in a room with 196 of your peers. Your goal? Deciding on what will be on the table for dinner. Your mission? Make everyone agree on what dish to cook, when to serve it, at what temperature, and whether everyone should eat that dish or not. This would be quite a challenge for you, right?

Well, this is pretty much what is happening during international climate negotiations. This year, the 196 Parties (195 States and the European Union) that are belonging to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have to negotiate on a new climate regime, which has to be completed by the end of 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), and will then come into effect after 2020.

Consensus, a very tricky process

Climate negotiations are based on a consensus principle. In order to take decisions, Parties must all agree with each other. Since there are 196 of them, reaching consensus is therefore a very tricky process, especially because the issues addressed are way more important than a dinner. Indeed, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the negative impacts of climate change are two daunting tasks, with huge social, political and economic consequences, which require all countries to rethink their development pathways and redefine their energy system, among other things.

At that point, putting 196 actors around a table and aiming at reaching consensus does not seem like a good plan. However, taking a closer look at the climate negotiations may introduce a more optimistic perspective. Indeed, all Parties are not usually present during the facilitated groups, when all the topics related to the future agreement are discussed in detail (for example, mitigation, adaptation, technology, transparency, or finance). Within those facilitated groups (also called contact groups), around 50 delegations are usually present, which makes dialogue a little bit easier than with almost 200 countries. In addition, the existence of alliances among countries leads to situations where one country speaks on behalf on its group, and express a common position, thus making the negotiation process smoother.

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Climate Talks, Negotiation Process, The Climate Nerd Chronicles

Alice’s adventures in ADPland (2/2)

This article is part of the Climate Nerd Chronicles.

Read the 1st part of this chronicle: Alice’s adventures in ADPland (1/2)

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The trial

In the next room Alice entered, all the Kings and Queens were solemnly sitting around a large table, so large that it went from one end of the room to the other. Stuck in a tiny corner, speccy people were preparing their fingers to write each and every word that would be said.

The White Rabbit cried out :

Silence in the court ! I will read the accusation :

The Kings and Queens, they had a clean atmosphere,

Since the beginning of  time.

The Kings and Queens, they stole this clean atmosphere, 

And drove the temperature up !

All are guilty, and yet no one is. The first defendant – a black King – said :

We agree that the matter requires our best attention, but we only stole a small share of the clean atmosphere. And it seems like all  these changes will affect us, more than the others. How unfair is that ?

Another defendant said :

That is true, we have been stealing for many years, and not just a little. But the Court should consider that the past remain the past – there is no need to designate culprits, it is the future that we should focus our efforts on.

Some claimed “We will stop stealing only if you start doing it first ! » Others responded “We will stop stealing only if you too commit not to steal anymore.” It seemed like an endless discussion, going around in circles…

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