Reflections from Paris COP – day 1

Today, the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) began in Paris. The aim of the conference is to finalise an international 195-nation agreement to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide, and to address issues such as deforestation & climate finance. I am attending for three days as part of the University of Reading ‘observer’ delegation.

The first thing you appreciate when entering the COP is the sheer size of the event. It covers several large exhibition halls, houses 40,000 delegates, including the world’s media. I was certainly glad to be wearing comfy shoes!

Today, it was the turn of the leaders of 147 nations – the most ever to assemble under one roof on a single day – to offer their thoughts on the process in 3 minute speeches, which almost inevitably overran. Their warm words will dominate the climate news bulletins tonight.

The real work starts tomorrow, when the negotiators set to work on the 50-page draft text to turn it into something which the national ministers can haggle over in the second week. There will be late nights, compromises, hugs and tears before an agreement is reached. What form it will take is still open for negotiation.

The developed world would be delighted to keep to less than 2ºC above pre-industrial temperatures, whereas many of the small island nations want a stricter 1.5ºC target. A key sticking point seems to be the money on offer from richer nations to help the poorer nations mitigate and adapt.

Also tomorrow, I am speaking on aspects of the science in a joint University of Reading – Met Office ‘side event‘. I will report back afterwards with further thoughts and experiences.

Below are some images from Day 1 including guest appearances from Al Gore, Bill Gates, a polar bear and the Eiffel Tower made out of deck chairs.





About Ed Hawkins

Climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) at the University of Reading. IPCC AR5 Contributing Author. Can be found on twitter too: @ed_hawkins

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