COP21 – UN Climate Summit Begins in Paris on November 30 – UPDATED with Photos from #ClimateMarch

Monday marks the start of a two-week long gathering of the planet’s political leaders and representatives at the COP21 summit in Paris.

What is COP21? From the BBC:

COP21 is short for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

That long winded title was created in Rio in 1992 where countries concerned about the impacts of climate change came together under the United Nations to do something about it.

They signed a convention that came into force in 1994 and has now been ratified by 195 countries, including the United States.

The key aim is the “stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. […]

… the world’s governments have already committed to curbing human activities such as burning fossil fuels that release the gases that interfere with the climate.

But that isn’t problem solved.

The difficulty comes when you try to get 195 countries to agree on how to deal with the issue of climate change. Every year since 1992 the Conference of the Parties has taken place with negotiators trying to put together a practical plan of action.

This year’s COP21 in Paris is the last chance for this process. Negotiators agreed in 2011 that a deal had to be done by the end of 2015.

On November 30, heads of state will gather and other events will follow:

The Leaders Event will start at 11 a.m. with speeches by François Hollande, Ban Ki-moon and Laurent Fabius. […]

At 4 p.m.: launch of the Mission Innovation (Clean Tech) initiative, in the presence of Barack Obama and Bill Gates. This is a commitment by States to double their research and development budgets by 2020 and by private investors to increase their own investments. It is being organized in liaison with the White House, the United States Department of Energy headed by Ernest Moniz, and Bill Gates.

It’s time to get engaged … links and shareables below.

Official Site: United Nations Conference on Climate Change – 2015, November 30 to December 11 – PARIS

COP21 Shareables: Images and videos

BBC: COP21: Beginner’s guide to the UN Paris climate summit

White House: Climate Change And President Obama’s Action Plan

Memo from President Obama to The American People, RE: Our Planet

In advance of the announcement of the Clean Power Plan back in August 2015

US State Department: Global Climate Change

Some Twitterers to Follow:
People’s Climate @Peoples_Climate

Building towards a sustainable future through action on climate.

Bill McKibben @BillMcKibben

Author, Educator, Environmentalist and Founder of

UPDATE: Photos from the Climate Marches which took place all around the globe on Sunday (courtesy Bill McKibben’s Twitter Feed):

More at Bill’s Twitter feed.



  1. Hollande, activists gear up for critical climate talks

    French President François Hollande met with environmental groups Saturday, pushing for an ambitious global deal to reduce man-made emissions blamed for global warming with emphasis on helping developing countries adapt to a changing world.

    The talks in the Élysée Palace came as President Barack Obama and the leaders of China, Russia and more than 140 other countries prepare to converge on Paris to launch two weeks of high-stakes talks.

    Leaders and climate negotiators from 196 countries meeting at the U.N. talks Nov. 30 through Dec. 11 will try to hash out the broadest, most lasting deal to date to slow global warming.

  2. The march had to be cancelled due to security concerns but people were still out:

    Rob Friedman ‏@BobbyHertz 3h 3 hours ago
    Paris may not be able to march today, but people are out en force to show support for climate action!

  3. I’ve read reports that it’s already too late—the irresponsibility and greed of the human race, especially of the ruling class, is responsible for this. I wish we could reverse what we’ve done.

    Thanks for the post and links, Jan!

    • I hope those reports are wrong.

      But I do believe that time is running out. I think back to the 70s when the nascent environmental movement was starting to gain ground. Then BAM! … Reagan … and all good government initiatives for curbing the use of fossil fuels and finding new sources of energy were mothballed. What a different world we would have if those initiatives had been allowed to continue! Or if a President Al Gore instead of the chosen fossil-fuel president George W. Bush, had had 8 years to promote our planet!

      Like I said elsewhere this morning, there is so much going on right now that thinking about initiatives to curb emissions seems to be a luxury we can’t afford. We tend to get distracted by the immediacy of people’s needs and concentrate on those instead of the future; when our loved one is in the ER, we don’t think about how we should have gotten them proper medical care – we just want them fixed! But there is no ER that can patch up our planet … we need to get her the proper care now to keep her healthy.

      Addressing man-made climate change is quickly reaching the point where our efforts will not be enough to stop the destruction of our planet. Floods and droughts and super-storms have human and dollar costs and the bill is coming due. Of course, the GOP has promised to block any support of the Paris initiatives. Another reason to kick them to the curb next year. Kids get it: their planet is burning up. If they care enough, maybe we can get them to understand that marches are nice, rallies are nice but change comes at the ballot box. You have to Vote for the future you want.

  4. From the White House:

    What the President is Doing in Paris:

    Climate change poses a significant threat to our planet, and it will take a global effort to address it.

    This week, the leaders of almost 200 countries are headed to Paris to stand in solidarity with the French people after the attacks on their capital city, and to work together to protect our future by reaching a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions that are fueling climate change. President Obama will be there — and he took to his Facebook page to explain why.

    There’s no “silver bullet” that will solve climate change. But, under President Obama, the U.S. has taken critical steps to curb our carbon emissions, and more than 180 countries have joined us — both the ones that emit the most and the ones most at risk — to announce their own climate plans.

    It’s important that we keep up this momentum, because now is the time to act. If we don’t, Americans across the country will continue to suffer the consequences of climate change, from more intense heatwaves and superstorms to rising sea levels and threats to public health.

    So follow along for live updates from Paris. And, if you’re seeing the impacts of climate change firsthand on the job or in your community, share them with us here.

    The more people see what’s happening, the more they’ll realize that now is the time to act.

    • Opening Ceremony

      (Slide the counter over to 57:20 for the start)
      President Obama Participates in the COP21 Opening Ceremony and Takes a Family Photo – Nov 30 2015

      President Obama’s Remarks

      (Slide the counter over to 28:35 for the start)
      President Obama Participates in the First Session of COP21 – Nov. 30, 2015

  5. From Monday’s News Feeds:

    U.S., China agree to push for climate change deal in Paris

    U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping pledged on Monday to work together to drive forward a climate change agreement at international talks in Paris.

    Ahead of a bilateral meeting with Xi, Obama said the leadership of the two countries was critical in pushing participating countries to cut emissions.

    More than 150 world leaders arrived at United Nations climate change talks in Paris armed with promises and accompanied by high expectations as they look to hold back the Earth’s rising temperatures.

    Tens of thousands protest around globe ahead of Paris climate talks

    Tens of thousands of people took part in rallies around the world on Sunday, calling on leaders to take steps at an upcoming conference in Paris toward halting climate change. […]

    … violence erupted between French riot police and a group of several hundred at a major square that was the site of a peaceful demonstration earlier. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters throwing projectiles, and the city’s police chief said about 100 people were detained.[…]

    The clash in Paris was an early test of the authorities’ determination to ban public protests under the country’s state of emergency declared following the Nov. 13 attacks by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters that killed 130 people.

    Protests held around the globe were timed to put pressure on more than 140 world leaders, including President Obama and China’s Xi Jinping, who are gathering for the high-stakes talks that will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

    On the eve of the talks, the 53-nation Commonwealth announced that it wants the climate conference to produce a legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Commonwealth — a grouping of Britain and many of its former colonies — covers more than 2 billion people and includes industrialized economies such as Canada and Australia, resource-hungry India and small island states vulnerable to rising sea levels.

    Kyoto Treaty Fizzled, But Climate Talkers Insist Paris Is Different

    Delegates from nearly 200 nations are in Paris to negotiate a new agreement to curb global warming.

    The first such meeting took place 18 years ago in Kyoto, Japan — a conference that produced the first international treaty aimed at slowing climate change. That attempt failed.

    Scientists say the planet is closer than ever to a climate catastrophe. So this time, the climatocracy has devised a radically new approach, requesting all countries to come up with voluntary limits on greenhouse gasses. The new plan also offers poorer countries cash to help offset their costs.

    When governments met in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, the scientific evidence for a changing climate was still fairly fresh, though even then it was clear that more carbon dioxide was going up into the atmosphere than in previous eras. Scientists thought it likely that burning fossil fuel — coal, oil and natural gas — was the main source.

  6. Bill Gates:

    “Two related initiatives are being announced at today’s event. One is Mission Innovation, a commitment by more than ten countries to invest more in research on clean energy. The other is the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a global group of private investors who will support companies that are taking innovative clean-energy ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace. Our primary goal with the Coalition is as much to accelerate progress on clean energy as it is to make a profit.”

  7. Tuesday morning climate news roundup:

    Pollution forces Beijing students indoors

    Schools in the Chinese capital kept students indoors and parents brought their kids to hospitals with breathing ailments Tuesday as Beijing grappled with extremely severe air pollution for the fifth straight day.

    “It’s the worst day so far this year,” said Liu Feifie, a 36-year-old mother and Internet company employee. “I feel my throat totally congested with phlegm and it feels very itchy. But I’m more concerned about the health of my 7-year-old kid.”

    The pollution spike is a reminder of China’s severe environmental challenges as President Xi Jinping joins other world leaders at the Paris climate conference. The hazardous air underscores the challenge facing the government as it battles pollution caused by the coal-burning power industry and will raise questions about its ability to clean up its economy at the talks in Paris.

    Will climate change wash away cultural history?

    Across the country, there are thousands of traces of history — from ancient archaeological sites to lofty estates, monuments, libraries and military buildings — that weren’t made to weather the weird and unpredictable climate of the 21st century. Some are such iconic and treasured parts of national identity or such boons to the tourism economy that it may be easy to justify doling out millions of dollars to keep them intact. (The National Park Service dedicated about $300 million to rebuild mid-Atlantic parks after Superstorm Sandy; most of that money has been spent on the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and other public spaces in and around New York Harbor.) But even some of the most famous landmarks might be tough to protect.

    World headed toward ‘suicide’ if no climate agreement: pope

    The U.N. climate conference in Paris is most likely humanity’s last chance to thwart global environmental disaster, Pope Francis said on Monday, warning the world was “at the limits of suicide”.

    The pope, who wrote a major document on the environment last June, made the comment in an hour-long news conference aboard the plane returning him to Rome at the end of a six-day trip to Africa. […]

    The pope was asked if the U.N. climate summit in Paris would mark a turnaround in the fight against global warming.

    “I am not sure, but I can say to you ‘now or never’,” he said. “Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the limits. If I may use a strong word I would say that we are at the limits of suicide.”

    He spoke of retreating glaciers in Greenland and low-lying countries at risk from rising sea levels.

    “I am sure that the (Paris delegates) have goodwill to do something. I hope it turns out this way and I am praying that it will,” he said.

    How Psychology Can Save The World From Climate Change

    … we tend to treat the immediate and personal quite differently from the distant and uncertain. When climate change is presented as distant in space and time, it’s easier to ignore. In making decisions, for example, immediate costs (like the inconvenience of reducing one’s carbon footprint) tend to loom large, while uncertain future costs (like the catastrophic consequences of warming) are underweighted. Climate change communication might be more effective by focusing more on regional impacts of warming that are close in space and time — like the effects we can see now in our own communities.

    Big Data Predicts Centuries Of Harm If Climate Warming Goes Unchecked

    This NASA video shows the magnitude of the shift in global temperatures that climate modelers predict, over the next century, if carbon dioxide concentrations continue their unabated climb. The temperature changes shown here are relative to the average temperatures observed from 1971-2000.

  8. Gov. Inslee takes climate-change campaign to Paris conference

    Gov. Jay Inslee is headed on Friday to Paris to show the state’s commitment to combat what he calls the “the scourge” of climate change as he attends an international conference expected to draw tens of thousands of people.

    “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last to be able to do something about it,” Inslee said in an interview with The Seattle Times.

    Inslee has made a statewide campaign to reduce greenhouse gases that warm the planet one of the central themes of his administration, but earlier this year he was unable to gain the Legislature’s approval for his centerpiece effort to regulate those emissions


    Unfortunately the R’s in Wa State are not cooperating with the Governor, but progress will be made regardless.

    • THIS!!

      “We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last to be able to do something about it,” Inslee said in an interview with The Seattle Times.

      He is right.

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