By Niclas Aleff
Reading our previous blogs I noticed a lot of negativity, caused by the critical style of writing. There are a lot of things at COP21 that should be questioned and looked at from a critical perspective. However, not everything at COP is bad, and therefore as well as the simple reason that I’m tired of writing about negative topics I went on a mission today: The search for positive topics.
The venue at Le Bourget is subdivided into different areas. Today I exclusively went to the part which is open to the French public, called Climate Generation Area. Even being only a few hundred meters away from the so called Blue Zone, the tents accommodating Climate Generation have their own unique vibe. As soon as I had passed the security check and had entered the big entrance hall I was welcomed by the dances and songs of the “Children of the setting Sun”, a group of young Native Americans from the Lummi tribe. It was a completely different atmosphere to that I had experienced the previous three days. People seemed a lot more relaxed, and less important, yet very interested and curious.
I was very pleased with my first impression and decided to get myself a map of the venue and start exploring the different exhibition rooms. It was a lot of fun to walk from stand to stand, talk to and discuss with people about their projects, heritage, but most importantly their passion. This way I met Tom, an elderly man from California who told me about his NGO, kyotoUSA.org, an organization which helps cities, schools, and communities to develop sustainable strategies to reduce climate altering greenhouse gas emissions. Shortly after having been talking to Tom I
entered what was referred to as the Villa, an apartment which’s interior was mainly consisting of climate smart products largely manufactured from recycled materials. The Villa is run by shamengo.com a website that provides a platform for entrepreneurs from across the globe to promote their inventions and ideas towards a greener and more sustainable world.
By the time I entered the second exhibition room I was already very happy with the day. The conversations I have had and the great activism which I witnessed at Generation Climate was very inspiring and motivating.
The second room wasn’t very different from the previous one, a lot of stands focusing on all different kinds of topics, but there was one
particular stand that arrested my special attention. The stand was part of an art project called “Smog Tasting”. The idea is simple yet brilliant. Artists and workshop participants use egg foams, which consist up to 90% out of air, to capture a sample of the surrounding air. The egg foams absorb not only the air but also all other particular matter in the air like heavy metals and VOCs. These samples have been taken in many places across
the world to taste the air quality. After taking the sample it can either be analyzed in a lab or be baked and served to people, the second option is what they did at their stand. I was so fortunate to try the London Pea-Soup-Smog from 1952, an experience that I would’ve been happy to miss out on. What I really like about this stand is the way arts and sciences are used to emphasize the direct link between pollution and our health.
Summarizing my day, I think I found what I’ve been looking for. The Generation Climate is the complementary other side of COP. The past three days have been very technical and abstract, today was completely different. Instead of high profile politicians, scientists and functionaries, people from across society were the centre of attention, presenting and addressing their solutions, problems and wishes. It was easy to identify oneself with their projects and it was great to see people acting to find small real world solutions to real world problems.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the International Forestry Students’ Association.