Thursday 29 September 2016

Paris diary: It's a bland conference venue - but they have an Eiffel Tower

Published 01/12/2015 | 02:30

The Eiffel Tower lit up with green color and messages to prevent global warming during the first day of the United Nations climate conference in Paris
The Eiffel Tower lit up with green color and messages to prevent global warming during the first day of the United Nations climate conference in Paris

Held in a series of exhibition halls stretched across a massive campus, the Le Bourget conference venue is as anonymous as any other in the world.

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Think the Red Cow without the Luas. But organisers of COP21 have attempted to give the venue a Parisien feel by naming the main thoroughfare between the exhibition halls the Champs -Élysées, complete with a glowing mini-Eiffel Tower at the end.

 

Lest any government attending the climate summit being in doubt as to the seriousness of the task facing them over the next two weeks, French organisers have erected a timely symbol of what is expected of them.

'Welcome, Defenders of the Planet' a 20-foot high, rotating pole proclaims in the middle of the Champs -Élysées. No pressure.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny wasn't just keen to discuss climate change when he attended COP21.

His Twitter account noted that other business was underway as well.

"Took time to meet New Zealand PM @johnkeypm to discuss many issues including positive reception for our RWC (Rugby World Cup) 2023 bid," he noted.

Killing two birds with one stone, indeed.

 

In the midst of very technical discussions around finance and emissions, it's the people most affected by global warming which are often forgotten.

But former President Mary Robinson, who is also a UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, said she was heartened to hear so many world leaders put people at the centre of their UN addresses.

"I would like to hope this will carry through in the negotiations, a people-first approach," she said.

It came as she announced a funding deal from 17 countries to encourage rural development without deforestation, and which will also see some forests restored.

And although Ms Robinson doesn't like speaking about politics, she did note that all countries - Ireland included - should be more ambitious in tackling climate change. She said there was "room for improvement", and said developed countries had to be "clear" about their responsibilities.

 

Mr Kenny was more than 90 minutes late addressing the climate summit, but nobody could claim that it was his fault.

Despite having failed on numerous occasions over the last 20 years to deliver a deal, world leaders spent so much time talking about the need for action that most of them overran the three-minute time slot allotted.

NGOs note that it's deeds, not words, required at this point.

Irish Independent

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