Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

Feature

Video games, inventions, and protests at Paris CO2 summit

  • Activists at an unauthorized protest on Wednesday 9 December at the climate conference in Paris (Photo: Peter Teffer)

A familiar-looking yellow circle was moving around a screen in Paris on Wednesday (9 December), apparently eating smaller circles.

It was not Pac-man, the classic video game from 1980, but rather Capman, a game developed by Brussels-based NGO Carbon Market Watch.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Part of the climate conference resembles a trade show. (Photo: Peter Teffer)

It was showcasing its video game, which relays the environmentalist group's main concerns in a playful way, at the United Nations climate conference.

The gameplay was apparently so engaging that the man who was supposed to present it, first did not notice a passer-by stopping at his desk.

“Oh, hello, sorry,” he said when he saw her, and started his pitch.

Carbon Market Watch is one of many organisations present at the 21st edition of the so-called Conference of the Parties, or COP21, where the world's climate negotiators try to thrash out an agreement for a global treaty that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate-friendly chocolate

According to France, COP21 “is the biggest international meeting ever organised in France,” and it draws not only politicians, but also businesses, lobbyists, and activists. It takes place in an airport-hangar-turned-conference-centre in Le Bourget, a suburb of Paris.

It is a place where you are given climate-friendly chocolate, can see a centre-left member of the European Parliament wandering around eating a quick sandwich, or spot participants wearing traditional costumes from all over the world.

There is a hall with national pavilions, which often reflect the diplomatic or economic size of the country.

Here, national delegations meet to discuss their negotiating tactics, or the latest version of the draft agreement - such as the one the conference's president, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, shared with the parties on Wednesday afternoon.

Some of the pavilions also serve as a form of nation branding, or a place to organise side-events on topics the country finds important.

Then there is the exhibit hall, where a range of stakeholders, NGOs, associations, and others display their product or views in small booths.

Showing off inventions

Take engineer Kolja Kuse, who came from Germany to showcase “an invention."

He is chairman of the board of the European Business Council for Sustainable Energy, a business association, and has attended several COPs, to talk about the use of carbon fibre as a building material.

Proudly, Kuse showed what he said was a piece of granite with carbon fibre around it. He described it as being as light as aluminium, yet flexible.

“We can make this from CO2. The question is how,” said Kuse, adding that he has had talks with people involved in carbon capture and storage (CCS), a method of preventing heat-trapping carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

“We need coal plants for a long time,” the engineer said. “The CCS people want to store it in the ground. Why not turn it into something useful? Carbon fibre is a very valuable industrial good.”

While it is still in the development phase, Kuse said there are endless possibilities. One of them was using the material in a popular brand of smartphone.

Not far from Kuse, Grace Cahill was sitting at a booth, not because she was affiliated with the advertised organisation, but because the abandoned booth was a comfortable place to sit - by around 4pm many of the booths in the area, which in a way resembles a trade show, had been emptied.

Cahill is media officer for Action Aid, a UK-based NGO. She noted she did not have time to talk much, because she was reading the latest draft text. But, she stressed, there was an event happening at 5PM that could not be missed.

Unauthorised protest

A group of activists had gathered at that time near the French pavilion for an “unauthorised” protest. Unauthorised perhaps, but very well-coordinated judging by the high number of media present.

A ring of TV cameras, photographers, and lit mobile phones could be seen crowding around a group of people.

They had sat down amidst an art installation which featured uni-coloured plastic statues of hippo's, bears, and other animals.

Initially, their chants were not very easily audible.

“Climate justice!”

“...together!...”

“...hold them accountable...”

Without any audio equipment, the demonstrators had decided to use their combined voices as an amplifier.

Before any chants, the lead messenger would shout: “Mic check!”, following which the crowd would copy.

While the chants were not always in synch, some of the shouted demands were clearly audible.

“We are here...”

“We are here!”

“...to demand...”

“To demand!”

“...that every single country take action...”

“That every single country take action!”

Meanwhile, the United Nations security personnel were urging passers-by not to stop in the main pathway to watch the sit-in.

“Can I ask you to move aside, because people want to walk here?” one of them asked.

The protest, which lasted around half an hour, also showed how complex the issue of fighting climate change is. The issue is not easily translatable into one-syllable chants or slogans. Yet the activists tried, with one man holding up an infographic of atmospheric CO2.

COP21 is formally scheduled to last until Friday. But late-night negotiations past the official deadline are not rare at climate conferences.

Europe holds off on storing CO2

Most reports looking at long-term climate scenarios agree that some form of carbon capture and storage is needed. However, its deployment has been stalled in the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  2. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  3. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  4. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  5. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  6. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  7. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  8. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  2. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  3. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  4. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  5. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  6. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  7. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  8. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us