Smoothies With Shaw

12360046_1061663643865098_7402930493840441457_nIn December, we welcomed Greens co=leader James Shaw to London. He spent an evening filling us in on what’s happening back in New Zealand the party’s plan for the next few years.

In the wake of COP21 it was great to hear his thoughts on the way forward for sustainable energy and also some more personal thoughts.

Thanks for coming out for a great evening!

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COP21 – Sunday

After two-and-a-half days at COP21 it’s time for us to head back to London.

We spent this morning at the “Village of Alternatives” in Paris’ eastern suburbs. Around 200 interested groups had got together to showcase small projects they were running to make the world a more sustainable place – from saving gibbons in Asia to creating pedestrianised spaces in Central Paris.

It was a great way to cap off an an inspiring weekend. We’ve decided to share some of our thoughts from COP21 that have made an impression on us.

(Here’s our updates from Friday and Saturday)

MEGAN

Megan

 

My highlight of the weekend?
It was great to chat to James Shaw about what’s going on behind-the-scenes of the main negotiations, and hear about the mood in the room.

Interesting fact I learnt?
Seagrass stores considerably more carbon per square kilometre than rainforest does!

What inspired me?
I loved hearing the stories from people in all sorts of countries who, frustrated by the pace of action from national governments, started their own projects and partnered with council and local governments. There are some really exciting innovations happening at the city and regional level!

My hopes for week 2 at COP21
Obviously a strong agreement! I’d also love it if more officials got the opportunity to leave the negotiating tents and pop next door to where civil society is to hear about all the inspirational projects happening. And I hope lots of local schools use this opportunity, as the Generations Climat would be a fantastic destination for a school trip.

A personal climate change pledge
Further reduce my meat consumption.

 ______________________

SIMON

Simo

My highlight of the weekend?
It’s great to see such strong representation from our the NZ Green Party here. We’ve campaigned heavily on making meaningful progress on climate change and on pushing the New Zealand government to make stronger commitments. Sending 3 MPs to Paris sends the right message – as a country, we need to stop lagging and start leading. Anything else is a dereliction of duty.

Interesting fact I learnt?
I didn’t realise there are several local councils in California which are distributing 100% renewable energy. Or that hundreds of American local bodies have committed to the values of Kyoto. Industrialised countries have been the slowest in moving way from non-renewables so it’s fantastic to see that kind of leadership at a local level.

What inspired me?
It was heart-warming to see how the fight against climate change transcends cultures. Sustainability issues present an ideal set of circumstances for citizens from many countries to come together and share innovation, and speaking to people from all around the world illustrates just how global this issue is.

My hopes for week 2 at COP21
At the very least we need a global agreement that sets clear and meaningful goals – a 1.5 degree target would be amazing but even 2 degrees would be a step forward. I would love to see binding resolutions that future-proof the document. One of the major stumbling blocks has been the instability caused by the change of national governments so anything which alleviates this will be helpful.

A personal climate change pledge
Being surrounded by so many intelligent people has made me realise just how much I still need to learn about the science of climate change. Its a complicated issue, so there’s a real need to make things accessible to voters. By educating myself, I hope I can do better in inspiring others to take ownership of the planet.

______________________

JAMES

James

My highlight of the weekend?
Meeting groups that managed, in spite of the odds, become successful in helping, in their own way, the mitigation of global warming. Some went from personal funding, to major government funding.

An interesting fact I learnt?
That deforestation releases more greenhouse gases than the greenhouse gases releases from vehicles used in our transportation network

What inspired me?
The determination of the groups to do something about climate change in their own way, in spite of the odds against them, and succeeding.

My hopes for week 2 at COP21?
That NZ doesn’t get another “Fossil of the Day “Award!

A personal climate change pledge?
To be more optimistic, and start doing more to mitigate global warming.

______________________

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Au revoir et merci, Paris!

COP21- Saturday

ToBlog 2day is Saturday. It’s day six of COP21 and it’s Action Day!

The preliminary
negotiations are drawing to a close and the scene is set for the arrival of ministers from around the world next week

The venue at Le Bourget, in the north-east of Paris, is split into two areas. The diplomats and civil servants are bunkered down in the Blue Zone, scurrying between meetings, caucuses and plenary sessions. Drafts and redrafts are pinging across wifi networks as fast as people can type.

Our co-leader James Shaw is representic4f72086-974b-4653-9f81-b0a74dffe13cng the Greens as part of the New Zealand delegation here. We had a very Parisian lunch of coffee and croissants with James while he took a break from the Blue Zone and he shared how delegations from around the world, along with our French hosts, have been working around the clock to polish the draft document that we all hope will turn into something meaningful.

Meanwhile, just one block away from the action, we’re at “Générations Climat”, the civil space devoted to local governments, NGOs, academics and activists. More than 100 innovative parties have set up stalls here to showcase how they are responding to climate change in their areas of the world.

We raBlog 1n into Auckland Mayor Len Brown speaking at the Cities and Regions pavilion as part of a panel on local government innovations. There’s a lot of great ideas happening at council level. We were particularly impressed by the vice mayor of Oslo who had introduced a whole bunch of incentives for electric vehicles – free parking, use of bus lanes and free charging. NZ Mayors take note!

It seems a lot of the ideas in the sustainability movement are coming from grass roots organisations and its great to see so many fresh ideas on show.

We’ve seen presentations from groups as diverse as the WWF, the Girl Guides, the City of Bristol (Europe’s 2015 Green Capital) and the Women and Gender Constituency. We’ve spent eight hours today chatting with people and getting inspired.Untitled

It’s a diverse and vibrant space with applause and conversation in dozens of languages filling the vast tent. There’s a real sense of optimism and possibility here and we hope that there are similar sentiments over in the Blue Tent.

If the passion of people here can be replicated, then the planet is in good hands.

 

COP21 – Friday

It’s halfway through the COP21 and the the feeling in Paris is that this is shaping up to be the definitive fortnight in the future of the planet.

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Three members of Kiwi Greens UK have made the trip to Paris to lend our support to the many others demanding action on Climate Chan
ge.

There’s a mood of cautious optimism on the ground here. Delegates from every country in the world are locked away behind closed door furiously debating proposals on a line-by-line basis. NZ Green Party co-leader James Shaw is adding a Green Voice to the Kiwi delegation and MPs Julie Anne Genter and Kennedy Graham are also in attendance.12348288_10153651444931233_1911533521_n

There’s still a week to go before the resolution is due to be finalised but the word on the street is that we’re closer to a binding agreement with meaningful goals on climate change than ever before.

Meanwhile, there’s a whole bunch of interesting things going on in the civic space next to the conference hall. NGOs, Green Business and lobby groups have set up stations to celebrate their achievements or demand action on certain issues.

We met Jane, an activist12351156_10153651388466233_71330455_n from California who’s run a whole bunch of clean energy initiatives including convincing local councils to offer citizens the choice of cleaner energy or showing local schools the benefits of solar energy. She’s currently part of Kyoto USA, a group circling the US convincing local councils to adopt the Kyoto Protocol.

We heard from a group of German academics who are proposing medium-sized coalitions of countries work on small, achievable targets in fuel emissions with the aim of rewarding each other with tax credits and other benefits. It’s certainly something worth investigating.

Closer to our home, we were intrigued by the story of the Nakau Programme who are encouraging indigenous communities in the Pacific to sell carbon offsets rather than timber.

We even had the chance to charge our phones with pedal power. What a time to be alive!