Prof. Roopali Phadke, Ellen Janda ’19, Kathryn Lund ’18, Ariana Lutze-Jahiel ’17, Julia Makayova ’18, and Mariah Shriner ’18 attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, from November 6 – 17, 2017.  This 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) brought together delegates from nations all over the world to continue their work on strengthening our global response to climate change.

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Students’ Daily Blog

Day 1:  Monday, November 6, 2017

This morning, we rode the train in from Cologne to the Bonn UN campus. On our way we met a woman, Monique, from the Cameroon delegation. We walked with her from the train stop to the Bula campus, which is the diplomatic zone. The opening plenary began as the COP22 President from Marrakesh, H.E. Salaheddine Mezouar, welcomed us to Bonn. He spoke about the importance of cooperation, solidarity amongst developing nations, and a growing tradition of non-state actor participation. All seemed like viable strategy for combating the lack of leadership by the United States in global climate solutions. He then invited Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, to officially accept the Presidency of COP23. As the first Pacific Island nation to host a COP, the Fijian presidency is especially notable as many of these countries are already facing the severe effects of climate change. Following his speech, a group of Fijian men performed a ceremony that included traditional song, dance, and clothing to celebrate and welcome the transition and the opening of the conference. A number of other leaders from the COP community also spoke, including Barbara Henricks of Germany. One of the main messages that we took away from this plenary was the importance of action and the implementation of the Paris Accord.

Following the plenary, we headed over to the Bonn Zone, which is to be used by both state and nonstate participants. There we each ate our own sustainable, locally sourced lunch from the cafeteria and broke apart to attend different sessions.

Ari:

I attended a panel session entitled, “Peasant Agroecology Feeds the People and Cools the Planet,” which was sponsored by two grassroots organizations: La Via Campesina (LVC), Secours Catholique-Caritas France (SCCF). The panel began by discussing the fact that 50% of GHG emissions can be attributed to the industrial food system, which suggests that there is much work to be done in this complex sector. The four panelists, who were peasants from Puerto Rico, Indonesia, France, and Mali all argued that a food system based on peasant agroecology and food sovereignted will help cool the planet. In addition, they all agreed that the current industrial food system has been colonialist, corrupt, and militarized. The root of the climate injustices faced by these peasants is a result of US and European consumption and capitalism. Agroecology, on the other hand, is a social movement based on traditional knowledge with the aims to empower farmers and fishers as well as aid in creating climate justice for communities impacted by these Big Ag corporations.

The panelists said that while these conversations are happening in local communities around the world, it is of the utmost importance that they are also happening in these types of international settings, particularly in the UN. But the panelists also had harsh criticisms of international decision making, stating that the Paris Climate Agreement relies on the commodification of nature and is ultimately non-binding. Overall, I found this panel absolutely fascinating. It was amazing to see grassroots organizers on an international platform, speaking with such passion. In addition, I was surprised that there was such strong criticism of the Paris accords in a UN sponsored event, but also found this reassuring as it shows that the UNFCC is really trying to bring in different voices and perspectives on climate change. And now, I find myself extremely interested in learning more about agroecology.

Ellie and Ari:

We attended a panel by the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), which is a world network of communities looking to build intentional, sustainable lifestyles. The speakers represented each region of the world, and described the various ways ecovillages address a diverse range of local issues. One aspect we found particularly interesting was the potential to rebuild areas destroyed by climate crises using this sustainable model. One of the panelists said that if just 5% of Europeans lived an ecovillage lifestyle, Europe would meet 80% of its Paris 2020 goals. This is quite a notable statistic, and we are both curious to learn more about ecovillages, particularly those in the US. In closing, the panelists also stressed that they are trying to bridge ecovillages with urban areas, which would make them more accessible. This is also relevant in the context of the US, and we are interested in learning progress in creating urban ecovillages in the US. https://ecovillage.org/

Ellie:

The second session I attended was titled The Role of Women as Guardians of the Ocean, and was sponsored by WWF. A panel made mostly of leading women from Fiji spoke to the importance of gender equality during the development of climate protection strategies. Within the Fijian island communities, women often occupy the base of traditional knowledge and cultural education. The personal narratives shared also spoke to the urgency that the Pacific islanders feel over the issue of climate change, for while technology may mitigate rising sea levels, development cannot fix the loss of a home.

Mariah:

The first session I attended was put on by the Climate Action Network (a network of over 850 environmental NGOs) entitled “Yardsticks for Success at COP23” to get an overview about some of the things to be aware of in the negotiations that will happen for the next two weeks. Speakers from a number of countries including NGO leaders from France & Fiji and Ambassadors from Fiji & Morocco spoke, each bringing their own perspectives to the issues at hand. As this is the second COP since the Paris Climate Agreement, there was continued emphasis on how creating specific goals and setting plans into motion before upcoming reviews (like the five-year Global Stocktake in 2023). Equally emphasized were the importance of finances, support for communities already facing the effects of climate change, and continued recognition of non-state actors as key players in the conversation:

  • Financial matters, including:
    • Clear financial support from developed countries (for their commitment of $100 billion)
    • Transparency in accounting
  • Support for frontline communities, including through:
    • Enhanced climate adaptation (the Adaptation Fund — ensure financial sustainability and articulate its functions)
    • Loss & Damage
  • Non-state actors:
    • Empower the most marginalized by adopting a gender action plan and elevating indigenous voices
    • Workshops between party and non-party actors
    • Public participation in the decision making

The second session I attended was titled “Imagine our world with +4 degrees celsius: Coping with the impacts of climate change on freshwater, oceans and cities.” The Paris Climate Agreement set forth a goal of no more than a 1.5 (or maximum 2) degree celsius increase over global pre-industrial levels. However, our current track puts us much closer to a 4 degree increase and this talk provided a number of different perspectives of how this will play out, focusing on water systems around the world. It is definitely a sobering topic and one of the key messages I took away from this talk was just how interconnected all of these issues are. A representative from the Nordic Cooperation (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland) pointed out how, while all five countries are doing well on reaching the Sustainable Development Goal #6 (Clean Water & Sanitation), they need to also take into consideration how other aspects like consumption and production are linked. Another panel speaker, focusing on the case study of the Mediterranean, noted that high temperatures mean not only sea level rise, heat waves, and extreme weather events (devastating in and of itself), but also will lead to more fires, changing ecosystems, loss of soil, and decreased agricultural yields (and more).

We closed out our day at the Evening Reception, which included delicious snacks, drinks, and lively performances from the Fijian Police Band. Recognizing a “No DAPL” t-shirt, we approached the man (Michel) wearing it and asked him whether or not he was from the upper midwest. Although Michel wasn’t (he was from Ecuador), we engaged in a lively conversation about indigenous rights. We spent most of the evening talking with Michel as well as a number of individuals from a broad coalition of indigenous peoples (including Brazil, Guatemala, and Indonesia). Each of them are active in their own fights and community groups, but they are spending four weeks touring five cities in Europe through the Weaving Ties Initiative (weavingties.org).

Day 2:  Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mariah and Ari:

We started our day by attending a press conference by Climate Action Network International in the Bula Zone. While there were three panelists, the press found the speaker from China most interesting and asked him most of the questions. This speaker opened by explaining that Trump’s presidency and the US pulling out from the Paris Agreement was an opportunity for China as it allows China to take on a leadership role in regards to action on climate change. The speaker said that China was already doing this—China has begun to phase out coal fired power plants and has increased its participation in climate diplomacy. He also raised the point that China does have continued room for improvement with regards to reporting on their progress, needing more frequent, higher quality, and broader coverage. Additionally, many of the same yardsticks of success from yesterday’s talk were repeated as things to keep an eye on throughout these two weeks.

Following this press conference, we headed over to the Bonn Zone, taking a solar-powered zero-carbon emission trolley to get there!

Another transportation option between the two zones are free bike rentals:

Mariah:

My next event of the day focused on climate change for Caribbean UKOTs (UK Overseas Territories), and was officially titled “Trouble in Paradise: Reducing vulnerability and enhancing island resilience to climate change in the Caribbean.” In the initial plan, representatives from the Caribbean and other small island (SIDS – Small Island Developing States) parties were supposed to lead the discussion but due to a scheduling mix up, many of them were attending other SIDS meetings. Instead, a man from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) lead the conversation, providing an interesting ecological perspective. The talk touched on impacts that are already occurring as stronger storms become the new norm and about the projected physical impacts, which include a decrease in precipitation (5% by 2100), sea level rise (0.5-0.6m by 2100 in the Caribbean sea), and ocean acidification. A representative from the Fijian party spoke up from the audience at the end, sharing her experiences in an environmental NGO in Fiji and Fiji’s current progress in recovering from Cyclone Winston (2016 – Category 5, most intense on record in the Southern Hemisphere and strongest to make landfall). Discussions of resilience included mentions of the differences between soft and hard engineering, as well as concerns that there may not be enough time or data to build the needed resilience when it comes to protecting ecosystems and many endemic island species.

Later in the afternoon, I attended a second session, “Coordinated Action on Sustainable Development.”  I chose the talk partially because two individuals from Nepal were speaking on the panel (a representative from the government and one from ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development)), but there were also representatives from IASS (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies), PaCE-SD (Pacific Centre for Environmental and Sustainable Development), and a country representative from the Solomon Islands. The talk itself was quite interesting and I feel like I got a well-rounded look at a number of different stakeholder perspectives of the intersection between climate change and sustainable development. One of the most thought-provoking components of the talk was simply the choice of countries (Nepal, Solomon Islands/the other Pacific islands) and its significance within broader contexts at the conference. While SIDS have their own regional designation at the conference, there was apparently a recent report that also linked these high mountain and island communities in conversations about climate change impacts. This may be done partially because both areas are already seeing the negative impacts of climate change on their communities in a more direct and significant way than some other regions, but the correlation may also erase some of their unique challenges and opportunities.

Ultimately the talk was very positive about the actions that are being taken at NGO, community, and governmental levels in the respective areas; I found this to be reassuring but I also know that there is so much that still needs to be done, in Nepal and around the world, and that I need to not be lulled into a false sense of security about the severity of these issues.

Ari:

At lunchtime, I met Bernard, one of the heads of sustainability for Porsche, Germany. He told me that this was not one of his first COPs by any means, and he was here as an observer and would be speaking on a panel later this week.

Following my conversation with Bernard, I headed to the German Pavilion for a talk on the role of cities in addressing climate change. The head of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) said that cities are responsible for a large percent of CO2 emissions and if we want to decrease atmospheric CO2, we have to change our cities. She highlighted the fact that there are many sector specific solutions for climate change in cities, but there is no overall view, particularly in respect to urban local governance. For urban transformation, the head of WBGU said that we must sustain natural systems (keeping them in harmony both globally and locally), promote eigneart (which roughly translates to people-oriented, diversity of cities), and finally to ensure inclusion through making political participation and economics accessible to the citizens). In addition, we must enable city governments to decide their local affairs and establish collaborative governance structures across cities and countries.

After this session, I attended a panel on lands, oceans, and water-food-ecosystem resilience in the mid-latitude region. This talk involved discussions of traditional knowledge in agriculture, farmer-managed natural regeneration, and supporting indigenous voices both financially and otherwise. The final panelist said that the Paris Accord left indigenous people feeling furious. The loss and damage these people have incurred from natural disasters cannot always be monetarily quantified. Moreover, climate finance is not currently reaching those who are most vulnerable to climate change.

Thus far I have really noticed the intentional integration of indigenous voices at this conference, at least on the Bonn Zone side. However, it feels that there are two main categories of countries who have been participating on these panels and those are the most wealthy countries and the most destitute. There seems to be little space for those countries that fall into the middle sector of wealth, and I am eager to hear from them.

Ellie:

My first day at COP23 was filled mostly with sessions given by civil society actors in the Bonn Zone, however, I was interested to see if this group’s aspirations translated into the diplomatic process, and spent all of day two in the Bula Zone.

First I attended the third plenary session of the APA (Ad Hoc Working Group for the Paris Climate Agreement). The meeting opened with an opportunity for civil society leaders to voice their opinions on motions discussed during previous negotiation sessions. These leaders represent large umbrella coalitions, formed around issues such as women and gender, trade unions, and the private sector.

Then, I watched a press conference by WWF on the options for accelerating the Paris Initiatives during the COP23. It provided an update on various country positions, as well as important trends to watch for at this conference. One of the more interesting things discussed was the difficulty in fulfilling the funding goals necessary for implementation. A speaker on the panel said that the struggle to gather funding pledges from developed countries was beginning to erode the fragile trust between countries achieved in Paris.

I then sat at the Conference of the Parties (COP) Plenary. The meeting began with a word from the Palestine delegation. The speaker stated the importance of equal implementation of the Paris accords, which requires each country to follow through on their NDC’s. The COP president, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, then guided the meeting through agenda items two and ten. Agenda item two was titled Organization of Work, and addressed the future leaders and hosts of COP conferences. Agenda item ten was titled Climate Finance, and featured reports given by both the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility. During both agenda tasks, brief statements were heard by country leaders and civil society. These positions will be further negotiated at smaller meetings.

Finally, the Conference of the Parties of the Paris Agreement (CMP) met for a plenary towards the end of the day. The agenda item being discussed addressed the structuring of dialogue during Fiji’s COP. Leaders from COP22 reported on the ways in which they integrated outside opinions during their COP, followed by a report on the current forums open for discussion at COP23. Speakers from both the Maldives and Iran stressed the need to have open and inclusive dialogue. The Iranian leader in particular spoke to the need for empathy and collective action while moving forward with Paris implementation.

We ended the day a little earlier than yesterday, returning to Cologne (Köln) with enough time to go out for dinner and walk around the cathedral!

Day 3:  Wednesday, November 8, 2017

We all took an early train into Bonn this morning. We sat on the upper level where an older man, Muhamed, started up a conversation with us. Muhamed had come to Germany to go to school in his 20s, ended up staying, working as an electrician and marrying a German woman. He’s been here for over 40 years now and expressed how difficult it is identifying as neither fully Ethiopian or fully German — he’s not sure where to call home now and is seen an outsider in either place. He also told us how amazing he thought America was—the people are so nice, the houses so big, the cities so spread apart. His five sisters all live in America, and are very successful. He told us that in America, people can come from nothing and make it. Three of his sisters worked at 7-11s and were able to pay for college that way. We told him that it may have been that way 30 years ago, but things are pretty different now. He still seemed to have a romanticized view of it, though. He said that in Germany, Germans are nice to you if you’re American, but if you’re black or Arab, it’s different. He noted the increasing challenges more recently with the influx of refugees and that some Germans have a lot of resentment based on the idea that newcomers are taking all of their money and resources while they’re struggling too. It was a very interesting conversation, and definitely gave us a different perspective on diversity and inclusion in German society.

Ari and Mariah:

When we arrived at the Bula Zone, we headed to the RINGO (The Constituency of Research and Independent Non-governmental Organisations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) meeting. Each morning, individuals associated with the group meetup to share their experiences in various official meetings the previous day (attendance is often limited), discuss what is on the agenda for the day, and go over any topics regarding the constituency as a whole. There, we were each able to get a pass to gain access to one of the APA (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement) negotiating meetings of the day.

We then attended the SBSTA informal consultations on local communities and indigenous peoples platform. The overall statements coming from various countries was that they needed more time to digest and analyze the text, that indigenous people should design the platform, and that the working group should have an equal representation of indigenous people and party members. There were over 15 parties represented, which is a small percentage of the overall number of parties but the co-chairs seemed quite satisfied with the turnout and remarked that the attendance was higher than their previous meeting on the subject.

Ari:

I left the informal consultation a bit early in order to attend the meeting on APA Agenda Item 7. This session was highly bureaucratic. The discussion was mainly around whether or not Article 15 of Agenda Item 7 should be linked to the transparency article. For the first 45 minutes of the meeting, approximately seven countries talked, including New Zealand, the EU, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Argentina. All the countries affirmed that the linkage between the two is very important. Then, Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that it was far too premature to even discuss this issue and that the transparency framework cannot be linked right now as it could negatively impact the perceived independence of Art. 15. This session and the previous one definitely gave me a glimpse into international decision making, but they were a bit hard to follow and clearly not meant to be accessible to observers.

Following this event, I took the shuttle to the Bonn Zone where I attended an event in the German Pavilion entitled, “Decarbonization of Aviation.” The three panelists stressed that aviation is the fastest growing GHG emissions source and that we must begin implementing the use of renewables in this type of travel. The only source that the three panelists seemed to agree on was liquified gases. However, the largest prohibitor currently is the cost. The moderator asked an interesting question at the end that I want to share with you. “How does the efficiency of renewables compare to fossil fuels?” A panelist responded by saying that it is not a question of comparison, but rather a question of sustainability. Fossil fuels are not a sustainable source of energy, the other options might be, and we should at least begin pursuing them. I attended this talk because the largest part of my environmental footprint is absolutely related to flying. When it comes down to decreasing our aviation footprint, we have to be willing to change the market, and I am not sure that people are ready to do that. I am eager to see which one of the alternative fuel sources makes its way to the forefront of air fuel in the future, but only time will tell.

The final event I attended today was a talk on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. This talk was quite  scientific, talking about the ecology of the region, how they collect data and monitor the habitats, and finally how to conserve and restore certain ecosystems. In many ways, I found this talk really positive. They focused on protection of biodiversity and benefits and co-benefits of adaptation in the area. They also explained that the Red Sea is home to coral reefs and that the waters in the Red Sea are warmer than most coral sea waters, and the CO2 levels are about the same in this area as they were under preindustrial conditions. The combination of these two facts mean that Red Sea coral reefs are not facing the same doom that many other coral face worldwide.

Mariah:

From the SBSTA meeting I headed to the Bonn zone to attend a talk titled “UN Climate Justice: Just Transition for all and a human rights-based approach to climate action,” which included speakers from the ILO (International Labor Organization), the Philippines, ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), and NHRIs (National Human Rights Institutions). I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of a just transition since watching From the Ashes and learning about the proposed Portland Just Energy Transition initiative (in Portland, OR), so I was glad to see so many people at this meeting. It was also super interesting to get the labor and trade perspective, especially since I usually hear their voices in on the opposing side of issues regarding fossil fuel infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest. The speaker from ILO spoke to this issue most and noted that quality and quantity of jobs could be affected both negatively and positively by the transition to climate action but that ultimately these questions depended on most on timeframe, implementation of social support, market conditions, and a number of factors. Overall there seemed to be a consensus that a just transition represented an opportunity to combine human rights, sustainable development goals, and effective climate action.

From there, I caught the last few minutes of questions at a panel on climate-related human mobility. It was super cool and included a lot of interesting points about questions on how to define what is climate-related movement and if that definition is critical to taking the needed action. One awesome thing about many of these side events is that the contact information of those leading them and the speakers are posted online – I’m excited to follow-up on the topic!

After a quick break to finalize my notes from my morning, I headed back out to the Bula zone again, this time for my APA meeting on Agenda item 8b — relating to implementation of the Paris Agreement (except the Adaptation Fund). Like Ari’s meeting earlier, I was struck by the contrast of the negotiations to the lively activities in the Bonn Zone – it was hard to tell if any progress was made on the issue during the hour-long meeting and it seemed so far removed from the discussions of actual climate action. The group was discussing Article 9, Paragraph 5 of the Paris Agreement, and most specifically their mandate under it. However most of the meeting was spent in repetitive debate about whether an earlier motion by China in a small group meeting had been accepted as an amendment or just proposed. I didn’t have much background information on the issue but it was fascinating to see how countries aligned themselves with each other, how the co-chair dealt with the conflict, and the nuances of procedure.

Ellie:

I spent my day on a UN excursion to view three facilities which sit at the forefront of green energy use in the region. Each was project was an innovation in its field, and had been carried out largely due to the ambition of highly driven individuals. The trip was coordinated by Energie Agentur, an organization which coordinates energy research and implementation for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

First, we went to the headquarters of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, a mail delivery company. Impressively, they are on track to achieving 70% emission-free delivery by 2025, and zero-emission delivery by 2050. In order to do this, the Group oversaw the design of two electric delivery vehicles, and three bike models (pictured below). These models are now available on the market, and have been sold to a variety of other European delivery companies. The DHL electric fleet is currently operating at the limits of the German electric grid. In order to maximize usage, the Group created a computer system to monitor grid capability and then direct vehicle charging needs accordingly. They have been active in advocating for increased electric infrastructure at the local and state level in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Next, our group traveled to the hotel, Kameha Grand. The hotel occupies a huge building complex which is heated and cooled through a geothermal system that stores energy in the natural aquifer below. During the summer this system provides 70% of the building’s cooling needs, while in the winter months it can cover up to 80%. The system is quite large, and regulates the temperature of three surrounding buildings as well. This results in an estimated offset of 400 tons of CO2.

At our third stop, we met with Welthungerhilfe, an international development aid organization. Their facility is heated by the incineration of wood pellets, which are made from the sawdust waste of local forestry companies. This has allowed for a carbon offset of 368 tons of CO2 per year. The organization made the decision to install this system because they recognize the heightened impact of global climate change upon underdeveloped areas.

We ended our journey with a trip through the hills above the Rhine river. We took a railcar up  Drachenfels mountain to view castle ruins which date back to the 1600’s, as well as some very impressive fog.

Day 4:  Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ellie:

Ari and I spent the morning touring around Cologne’s city center before finally hopping on the train. We visited a bakery for breakfast and then walked through the Cologne Cathedral.

When we finally arrived at the conference there was some time to wander around the pavilion space. We took some pictures and drank good coffee at the Germany pavilion, and watched dancers at Fiji’s pavilion. In a far back corner of the space I found the Russian pavilion and began a very interesting conversation with one of the staff members. He congratulated the United States on finding a market solution to high carbon emissions through our increased natural gas usage. He says the Russians have been applying this value to their system of recycling. They have been able to greatly recycling of plastic and aluminum bottles by paying people to return them to recycling centers. While this system exists in the United States, it is far more effective in Russia, for he informed me that their European neighbors have begun to send bottles to their centers as well. All interesting facts that I will have to look into . . .

I then attended a talk held at the Indonesia pavilion titled Innovation in Mangrove Ecosystem Management to Support Community Livelihood and Climate Change Mitigation. This issue has been the focus of many studies done by the Center for International Agricultural Research. There is a really optimistic feeling in the region that mangrove trees can both mitigate the effects of rising sea levels and improve air quality. It is a tricky solution, however, as projects must be executed in areas that are compatible both socially and environmentally.

Next, I attended Nurturing Progress in Reducing Transnational Air Pollutants, held by the South Korean pavilion. The first speaker was involved in Korean foreign affairs, and adamantly stated that the solution to this issue relies on international cooperation. He was followed by Gerardo Sandez Martinez, a professor at DTU. Dr. Martinez stressed that climate change should have been viewed as a health concern from square one. Korea is an important illustration of this, for it experiences a high number of premature deaths due to air pollution. Health is high on the political agenda, and people tend to take it seriously. Most of the suggestions provided at this talk had to do with framing climate change as an issue relevant to the lives of all.

For my final event, I was back at the Indonesia pavillion for a talk about peatland restoration. The country has experienced a bilateral approach to peatland protection and monitoring. Both market interests in the private sector, as well as international NGO’s have taken an interest in this. There remains large needs, such as research into possible sustainable livelihoods within peatlands and further data collection into peatland mapping, however, this is another topic that the climate mitigation community is extremely excited about. I noticed, however, that there was very little government action involved in the monitoring and preservation of Indonesian peatlands. It is sad to see the production of such a large COP23 pavillion, with little action to back it up.

Ari:

I started the conference part of my day by attending a talk in the Cities and Regions Pavilion. The talk was centered around the connection between the Paris Agreement, national governments, and local governments. The panel included two Mayors, one from a town in Botswana and the other from a town in South Africa. In addition, there was a man who served in the national level government in Cote d’Ivoire. The mayors discussed the fact that nations present the Paris Agreement as a good framework, but it is most effectively actualized at the local scale. From here, the mayoral panelists talked about sustainable initiatives that they had implemented in their towns, including bettering rapid transit systems, creating infastructure to transition to renewables, and developing higher quality recycling centers. The man from Cote d’Ivoire supported the mayors and added that national government should provide the framework and help with implementation, but that they should be executed bottom-up, not top-down. In addition, he emphasized the need to grow the economy without increasing emissions. I’ve been having a bit of a hard time with this type of dialogue at COP because the more that I read about economic growth, the more that I believe it is fundamentally in opposition to a healthy and liveable environment, but this is the system we live in, and I guess that it’s better that we try to focus on decreasing emissions, than the other option.