COP21 at a glance – Week 1

COP21 at a glance - Week 1There are but a few days left until participating countries come to an agreement; in the meantime, many measures have been announced during the first week of COP21, reflecting a global realization of the issues at stake.

Widespread awareness

A large number of stakeholders were mobilized during the first week of COP21, many of whom placed renewed emphasis on the urgency of the situation, six years after the failed Copenhagen conference. According to François Hollande, “never have the stakes been so high because this is about the future of the planet, the future of life”. The French President then campaigned on social networks to push for an ambitious agreement.

This message was widely endorsed by various participants.

Urban planning and energy at the core of discussions

The measures announced cover a wide scope of actions on water, urban planning, buildings, transport… Noteworthy initiatives include the Urban Resilience Project launched by 21 global metropolitan areas, the Paris Pact on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change and the Paris Energy Transition Project (800 million-euro investments in 100% renewable energy equipment, installation of geothermal wells…).

A great many announcements were made this week, reflecting a strong commitment on the part of governments and local authorities. China’s involvement, in particular, was eagerly awaited. Early in the week, Beijing pledged to cut emissions from its coal plants by 60% by 2020. As for France, its government said it would spend 2 billion euros on developing renewable energy sources in Africa.

Transnational initiatives

Intergovernmental co-operation is indeed the cornerstone of this COP21: the issues at stake are considered from a global, cross-cutting, perspective. This is reflected by the establishment of global alliances, such as the Solar Alliance (which aims at developing affordable solar energy) and the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction and the Global Geothermal Alliance.

France intends to play an active role in these initiatives. Paris tackled the issue of transport head on by issuing a statement on electric mobility and climate change. France also called upon manufacturers to develop electric cars under 7,000 euros. Finally, on December 2nd, in the midst of COP21, RATP (Greater Paris Transport Authority) showcased 12 state-of-the-art clean buses.

Parallel to these initiatives, a significant education and communication effort has been made, thus pursuing one of the main objectives of COP21, i.e. raising awareness among the wider public.

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