Biodiversity, Future View

Are we the next dinosaurs ?

This article is written by Nicolas Pinceloup and Clémentine Cahier.

Today, May 22nd,  is the international day for Biological Diversity. It is the occasion to question our development and the importance of biodiversity in our societies. This article aims to enlighten the link between biodiversity and sustainable development.


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Climate Action, Climate Politics

Qatar’s gentle push towards a sustainable future

This article is written by Neeshad Vs.

The State of Qatar is an Arab sovereign country located in Southwest Asia, occupying the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar’s oil and gas revenue account for most of its GDP, rising up to $170bn (£106bn) a year. It has the world’s third biggest natural gas reserve and is the top supplier of liquefied natural gas (LPG) according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration.

Qatar and Docile Fight for a sustainable future
Qatar’s lavish Skyscrapers & hotels at Wes Bay, Doha – Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

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Climate Politics, Communicating Climate Change, Language

World Leaders Must Promote New Meaning of Progress

This article is written by Henri Landes.

On Tuesday the 25th of June, President Barack Obama delivered a convincing speech on the urgency to act against climate change. His skillful rhetoric and inspiring optimism hopefully persuaded any Americans that still questioned the need to address the issue – politicians of the opposition especially.

After many years of reluctance, the United States should finally “officially” launch itself into the climate change fight, and should do so with an international perspective. Obama’s speech was undoubtedly a strong statement, notably taking into account a complicated international context of economic crisis, and a domestic one of divided politics. However, I would have liked to hear some newer ideas on how to mitigate climate change, as well as a connection drawn between climate change and a global socio-economic crisis.  

With regards to international solutions, Obama primarily stressed ending public financing for coal factories – unless carbon capture is included – trade of clean technologies and both bilateral and international cooperation to increase renewable energy development. As much as these are necessary, these solutions are all relatively consensual and old news in the world of climate activists. Few argue that we need to continue using the dirtiest energy source, and market based solutions for renewable energy upscale already have several success as well as failure stories (the second due in most cases to ineffective regulation and poor investment strategies, i.e. solar energy in France).

Market based solutions to climate change have been the United States’ trademark in international negotiations, to the dismay of developing countries who have looked to the US and other historical polluters for leadership in setting binding greenhouse gas reduction targets and in proposing regulatory measures. These market-based solutions are in my view largely insufficient to tackle climate change, and must be completed with others. The recent curve of global greenhouse gas emissions and climate trends of the past few years are ample proof (storms and flooding in South-East Asia, drought in Africa and in the US, etc.). We are currently on a path of roughly 4 degrees of global warming by 2060, and the next IPCC report in the fall will reveal much more troubling information.

Climate change is a problem of unprecedented nature, and it brings us to a turning point. It has been caused by certain aspects of our economic model of production and consumption, at both national and international levels. The inability of the world economy to effectively internalize the cost of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental degradation and natural resource depletion is undisputed. Lire la suite « World Leaders Must Promote New Meaning of Progress »

Climate Talks, COP18 - Doha

What we take from Doha

This article is written by Vivian Depoues.

Last month, just a few days after the end of COP 18, many NGOs organized a debriefing of the negotiations. CliMates did one, as well as 4D, a French NGO committed to advancing sustainable development. What is really interesting in such moments is the diversity of feelings from people coming back from the summits. I had the same impression after Rio+20. It’s almost possible to draw a gallery of the typical reactions, but that’s what I’ll try to do with the example of the four speakers of this 4D conference.

One of the speakers of this conference was Patrice Burger, Director of CARI (CARI is a NGO which is helping African populations in arid areas, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the North Africa). He was very disappointed by the process he discovered in Qatar, and even more by the outcome of the COP. Mr Burger didn’t agree on the way the discussions were structured, nor on the country which had been chosen to organize the conference. He also found civil society mobilization not strong enough. At the end of his speech he tried to draw some positive remarks, based on his personal experience or some side events. This reaction is a classical reaction of someone coming back from his first international summit. These people are usually very passionate and expect a lot, but then discover the heaviness and the difficulties of the UN process.

The second profile in this gallery is that of the specialist like Ludovic Larbodiere from the French Ministry of Agriculture. He went to Doha to listen and take part to the discussion on the very specific point of agriculture. His analysis is more positive, because he does not try to have a holistic approach but focuses instead on Lire la suite « What we take from Doha »


Yes, today I want to smile


Usually, when I take a pen, it’s either because I have an assignment or because I’m scandalized by something and I want to let the world know how angry it makes me. But today on this CliMates blog, I won’t be scandalized, or shocked or angry. Today, I want to take my pen and write a few lines on what is going to happen next week on the Sciences Po campus and which makes me feel deeply happy and confident.

This week, CliMates has the honor to be invited to the Sustainable Development Week  at Sciences Po Paris. Hosted by Sciences Po Environnement , the green student movement at Sciences Po, this event is dedicated to promoting debates and activities about sustainable development, the environment and how these notions are intertwined with politics, civic engagement, daily life, economics, etc. It aims at helping the whole Sciences Po community to think about new paradigms, to discover new behaviors and to promote green projects on campus.

As a CliMates member, I am obviously very concerned about sustainable development and climate change issues. What’s more,, it comes as obvious to me that everybody should feel concerned about how to make our societies resilient and sustainable – simply because it is a matter of basic responsibility and survival. When you are a young student, interested in these issues, you naively want to get the whole world in your campaign. But then, it’s time for reality check. Environmental concerns are inconvenient to many – in particular to many elders. In that sense, promoting a sustainable economy is disruptive. Tackling climate issues is disruptive.

But this week at Sciences Po, the whole student community will dedicate an entire week to these issues. When I was in high school, I had a teacher who once told me that disruption is a catalyst for change. I think he was completely right, and I would add that initiatives such as this sustainable development week are definitely catalysts for change. Many associations are getting involved and will have the opportunity to present and discuss their ideas with and for students. And CliMates will host two events, which are undeniably inspiring… and make me feel like smiling.

Using the open space technology , CliMates will host an open forum on the theme “Youth and sustainable development: in theses times of electoral debates, what would you say to candidates, as a young student?” and a conference on the role of youth since Rio 1992  The open forums are based on the idea of crowd’s wisdom  or citizen science. So what about an open forum dedicated to sustainable development uniting students?

John Ashton, Special Representative for Climate Change at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told a few CliMates members during a meeting we were lucky to have with him: « People always say « grown-ups will take care of it ». In the fight against climate change, there are no “grown-ups”. If you don’t do anything, things will go on with the old system: you are the next generation. You must be the grown-ups. »

The spirit of this open forum is based exactly on this idea: young people need to be federated and talk about these issues, without a utopian vision.

This week, it will be a first start thanks to a partnership between Sciences Po Environnement, CliMates and Paris +20 committee.

I may be still quite naïve, but I don’t care. Today, I want to smile because I’m getting ready for this inspiring week at Sciences Po.

Beware! Students are coming. And together, they can be very wise.


Johann Margulies

CliMates Communication Team

Candidate to the title “Catalyst for change”