What have we learnt at COP21 so far? The 147 world leaders who turned up spoke passionately. The negotiators seem determined to get a strong agreement, already working past midnight each evening. The process of the negotiations seems to be much improved from previous COPs, with small groups doing much of the hard work.
The plenary sessions so far are setting up subgroups to discuss particular contentious issues, as well as very small ‘informal informals’ to edit particular sentences or paragraphs. The attention to every detail of the wording is extraordinary, but rather tedious for those not directly involved!
Overall, the organisation of the event has been fantastic with superb logistics, even with the high security, airport-style scanning and very visible armed police presence.
Our job as scientists is to communicate our science to the negotiating teams and interested observers. At our event yesterday, attended by over 100 people, the team from the Walker Institute and the Met Office discussed the record breaking temperatures of 2015, the increase in risk of UK heatwaves and floods, the likely carbon budgets to meet the 2°C target, as well as detailed interactions on the ground in Africa to help farmers.
I don’t envy the negotiators who have a tough and probably very long ten days ahead. It was very obvious from the sessions I managed to attend there are still considerable differences of opinion between the developed and developing world. Time will tell whether these differences can be overcome – the mood certainly seemed very positive.