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30 Nov 2015

Re-COP - Day 1 at the Paris COP21 summit on climate change

Outside the entrance to COP21 at Le Bourget
By Finlay Duncan

Welcome to Paris; the capital of France and, for the next two weeks, the world's climate capital. Thousands of people, including 151 world leaders, from 195 countries have descended on the 'Parc des Expositions Paris le Bourget' site aiming to agree on a deal which will reduce global carbon emissions. Below you can follow Team BirdLife and some of the main talking points at COP21.

Twitter: @BirdLife_News / @BirdLifeEurope - #BirdsTellUs / #COP21
Facebook: BirdLifeInternational
(For the latest updates, please scroll to the bottom)

You can follow Day 2's blog here

Day 1 - Monday 30th November

09:00 - Seamless transport out to Le Bourget from the centre of Paris this morning, aside from our shuttle bus missing the entrance and having to go back around again, with a real buzz in the air at the COP21 venue. This is my first experience of these United Nations-organised climate summits and so far, so impressive. The summit site is massive, covering a number of large halls, with many organisations represented in addition to the 195 national delegations. Unlike some past COPs, this first morning is seeing many of the most important people, the world leaders, arrive at the summit. Security is, understandably, high (with airport-style scanners to enter the site), but from my experience so far hasn't been too chaotic.

The BirdLife International stand is up and running - if you're on site, come and find us at stand 023C in Hall 4:


10:00 - We're getting underway at COP21 - France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is being installed as the President of this summit, with his message being that there is 'no hidden agenda, no secret plan, no text in our pockets' - so full disclosure then from COP21's President.

This morning we'll be seeing a number of introductory speeches from world leaders, outlining their positions before negotiations fully get underway.

Keeping up-to-date - co-ordinated by the Climate Action Network (CAN) which BirdLife is a part of, 'Eco' is COP's daily newsletter packed with key messages and some useful information on the summit itself. A COP 'must-read'!


11:00 - The Leaders event is getting underway. It is being attended by approximately 150 Heads of State and Government and is being opened and presided over by the President of France, François Hollande. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon also in attendance.

A short break in proceedings for the 'family photo' to be taken:

12:30 - Leaders Opening - introductory statements now beginning from heads of state, slightly later than scheduled. US President Obama began speaking just before 1pm Paris time. "We can show the world what is possible when we come together" he tells delegates in his address. "There is such a thing as being too late" Obama adds, quoting Martin Luther King Jr, emphasising time is running out to tackle climate change.

If you're a Spanish speaker, David Howell from our Spanish Partner SEO was on SER's 'Hoy por Hoy' programme this morning - link to listen here: http://play.cadenaser.com/audio/001RD010000003928581/ 

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3:00 - But if you're instead following the introductory speeches from world leaders - here's the running order: http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/paris_nov_2015/application/pdf/leaders_event_speakers_list_cop21_cmp11.pdf - We're currently hearing from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Just for fun, here's the main schedule for the first two days of COP21 (click to enlarge):


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3:30 - Two key speakers at the Leaders Opening event at the moment, Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to be followed by Russian President, Vladimir Putin. You can watch the proceedings live here: http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/channels/plenary-1

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4:00 - A break in proceedings for lunch - Some COP21 promises so far form the Leaders Opening introductory statements; US - President Obama told delegates they will reduce emissions 'significantly' below 2005 levels within the next 10 years, Germany - Chancellor Angela Merkel says they will double public funding to tackle Climate Change from 2014 levels until 2020.

14:15 - A lunch break for world leaders, but we're carrying on - the daily meetings of the Climate Action Network (CAN), of which BirdLife is a part, takes place from 2-3pm; a chance to raise what's been discussed so far amongst the delegations and the main event schedule.

15:00 - The first of the BirdLife delegation's daily meetings throughout COP21. What we're hearing on the ground, what key findings the team are picking up and what's ahead on the agenda in the hours, and days, ahead.


15:30 - Introductory statements from world leaders back underway at the Leaders Opening event in the plenary chamber. First up among the speakers is Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

16:00 - A chance for BirdLife and other NGOs to speak directly to the European Union's official delegation and highlight issues and where we'd like the EU to speak up. Currently discussing topics including land use, food security, sustainable development and EU support for developing countries.


Speaking of main priorities, you can read BirdLife International's asks for COP21 here.

17:00 - Good things come in Threes? - The complex in Le Bourget which is hosting COP21 is sprawling. It comprises various halls each used for a different purpose.
Hall 3 plays host to national delegations and some side events:


195 countries (plus the EU) are represented in here - from larger countries such as G7 member Germany...


To the tiny Principality of Monaco...



Have you read The Messengers, BirdLife's joint report with our US Partner Audubon? It details the effects climate change is already having and provides nature-based solution to tackle the problem - read it here.

17:30 - An announcement from the UNFCCC - twenty major world economies have signed up to doubling the amount of money they spend on developing clean energy. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, also bringing in private sector financing for the 'Mission Innovation' plan, according to this release from the UNFCCC themselves.

As COP21 'spotting' goes, they probably don't come much bigger than former US Vice President, Al Gore. So far Team BirdLife haven't had the opportunity to grab a photo, but Mr. Gore is indeed here and Tweeting:

17:45 - Newly-elected Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, now addressing delegates in the Leaders Opening event, saying "climate change is also a historical opportunity. We can create jobs, we can create growth".

18:15 - Oh dear Belgium, they probably don't need more bad press right now, but they've just jointly (with New Zealand) been awarded 'Fossil of the Day' by Climate Action Network (CAN). The prize goes to countries seen to be doing the worst for the environment at COP21.


18:30 - The introductory statements are continuing apace in the plenary room. EU President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has just concluded his remarks to delegates, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, now on stage.

19:00 - For those still following introductory remarks at the Leaders Opening - still a couple of dozen heads of state to go, including India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was earlier speaking at an event on solar power:

19:15 - Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, now speaking at the Leaders Opening event, promising his country will produce 40% of its energy from 'non-fossil fuels' by 2030.

19:45 - 'Spin-off' groups being held from now until later into this evening where delegations will discuss articles in the draft agreement for COP21. 

Our live blog for Day 1 will shortly be coming to an end - but a quick plug for our social media sites where you can continue the conversation:
Twitter: @BirdLife_News / @BirdLifeEurope - #BirdsTellUs / #COP21
Facebook: BirdLifeInternational