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COP21 reflections: What have we achieved and how do we go forward?

On Friday, I am helping Alex Minshull, Director of Sustainability for Bristol City Council, wrap up the Bristol and Paris Pavilion with our partners from ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. It was a great pleasure to be on the stage with Gino Van Begin, ICLEI’s Secretary General, and Yunus Arikan, ICLEI’s Head of Global Policy and Advocacy, both of whom have spent years advocating for the important role of non-state actors – an advocacy that was vindicated beyond all doubt over the last fortnight.

On Friday night, I am on the Eurostar, trying to make up for lost sleep and trying to wade through the penultimate draft of the text. Ironically, I have to buy bottled water at Paddington as there was no place to refill my new COP21 bottle… a reminder of how far we have to go. Ironically, I have to get a lift home from Temple Meads.

And then on Saturday, back home, I am admiring those who took to the streets of Paris with a message of hope, while waiting (and waiting) for the final announcement, following the Guardian and BBC news livestreams as a ‘shall’ became a ‘should’, as text was finalised, as countries read their final statements. And then at around 6:30 the agreement was ratified.

The next morning, Sunday, I am cooking breakfast on our gas hob and thinking: all of these – in tens of millions of UK households - will have to go in the next 30 years, less to limit warming to 2C.

What a challenge but what an opportunity.

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The dust is still settling; the full implications of an Agreement built on self-imposed commitments, peer pressure and united messaging rather than rigid and universal targets are not yet clear.

In Bristol we have made bold pledges on multiple international stages, but before we truly embark on realising those, we will hold a Mayoral and Council-wide election.

Nonetheless, every day this week on the Cabot Institute blog, I will offer a few reflections on what has happened and what must happen next – formulated between the agreement of the Agreement on the 12 December and the start of real work on the 14 December.

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Prof Rich Pancost

This blog is by Prof Rich Pancost, Director of the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol.  For more information about the University of Bristol at COP21, please visit bristol.ac.uk/green-capital

Other blogs in this COP21 reflections series include:
What next for our planet?
What next for Bristol?
What next for the University of Bristol?







COP21 Daily Reports


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