COP21 – Elephants in the Room and Chocolate

Today began with Elephants in the Room and Chocolate!

I joined Belgian friends to support an EU action outside Le Bourget to highlight the importance of including international aviation and shipping in negotiations, respectively responsible for 5% and 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Security restrictions meant that no pink elephants appeared on the scene, but leaflets were discretely distributed.

The Change Chocolate came from Plant a Tree for the Planet specially wrapped for COP21 with a message calling on us all to plant trees and support the planet. Combined with an apple picked 60km away, it made for an interesting breakfast .

Local apples at the COP21 entranceStep one inside was attending a Climate Action Network Australia daily update, to catch up with what is happening at a wider scale than one can keep up with as an individual.

CANA daily briefing at #COP21I was swept up into a media conference on: Human Rights – Moral Compass of Paris Accord at Stake – unprecedented, cross-constituency collaboration calls on COP21 negotiators to protect the “Purpose Paragraph.” Put simply, this was in response to a move to remove so-called “purpose paragraph” that would commit all parties to respecting human rights in all climate dealings and replace it with a generic statement in the Preamble. There was an impressive cross section of voices gathered, including representatives from the Indigenous People’s Caucus, ActionAid, Women & Gender, and Trade Unions, moderated by Joseph Amon from Human Rights Watch.

COP21 Purpose ParagraphBill Erasmus, Dene National Chief, Assembly of First Nations and International Chair of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, kindly gave me an interview afterwards, explaining the importance of indigenous peoples having a voice since they are not represented formally in the negotiations, despite being responsible managers of thousands of miles of traditional lands across the world.

I attended the launch of the FairCarbon initiative with Andrea Maggiani, CEO of the CarbonSink Group, working to develop a new equitable carbon market in Italy. His colleague from Rome, Prof Eng Stefania Proietti spoke about two fascinating large-scale projects to replace old wood burning stoves with renewable energy in Nepal and the Hindu Kush, providing both technology transfer and climate-health co-benefits from reducing particulate matter entering the atmosphere.

FairCarbon InitiativeThe global #1o5C campaign kicked off, building international support for the 1.5 degree temperature goal at COP21, based on evidence that this is far more likely to protect vulnerable communities than the current 2 degree guard-rail target.

COP21 1o5C photoI added my picture at the Philippino stand support, with fellow Australian John. To find out more about the campaign, and to add your voice, visit

Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food spoke out at a side event designed to share experiences in tackling food and nutrition security, gender-equitable adaptation, and the importance of healthy ecosystems for resilient agriculture. The voice of the most vulnerable is being heard by civil society as we all contemplate the implications of different levels of global warming on the basic human right to food.

For video and story updates on the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, visit – the New Internationalist media hub #NICOP21.

See also the New Internationalist magazine special issue on COP21. It discusses what a good outcome would be on the major issues under discussion.  

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