Optimism in Paris

The discussions at the midpoint of COP21 exude hope and satisfaction for the work undertaken. It almost seems as if Paris, struck by terrorism only three weeks ago, had such a strong need for optimism that was pushing with all its might to achieve the results needed to address the climate change challenge. 

I talk about hope because, despite the intense discussions, it seems that countries will reach an ambitious agreement. It is widely recognized that what happened in the COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, when no legally binding agreement was reached and countries only committed to their initial proposal for CO2-reduction, cannot happen again. Back then, Greenpeace activists were in the limelight for their boycott during the closing ceremony. This won’t happen again, it is palpable. Society is more environmentally conscious than then, and its pushing for stronger commitments on the issue of reductions. The French government, for its part, has been heavily involved in the Summit. 

This is also a time for hope as the final Declaration will almost certainly include express recognition of the role of territorial, local and regional governments. We don’t know the exact content of this recognition, but should it occur, it will be meritorious, fair and logic. When faced with a challenge of such magnitude, all actors must get involved, without exception. The central governments alone are not enough. As Ségolène Royal, French environmental Minister,  said: "a significant proportion of the work lies with the territory".

As regards to optimism, I believe that as regionalists, we can be very proud of the work carried out at COP21. It was evident in Paris that we had prepared for the Summit as never before, with preparatory meetings in Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and with the World Summit Climate & Territories, held in July in Rhône-Alpes. The regional presence has been remarkable and it allowed to present experiences and projects. Among them, worth noting the presentation of the II World Summit, to be held in Nantes (Loire region) and the launch of the RegionsAdapt initiative, led by Rio de Janeiro and Catalonia, under the umbrella of nrg4SD and The Climate Group, aimed at the regions emission-reduction. It was amazing to see how many regions came into the events hell of the Maison de l’Europe to sign the agreement: California, Wales, South Australia, Lombardy, Timbuktú, British Columbia, the Senegalese regions Gossas and Fatick, the Brazilian regions Tocantins and Minas Gerais, Jalisco, Sud Comoé in Ivory Coast, among others.

On different occasions during the COP21, Matthew Rodríguez, David Heutel and Santi Vila, environmental ministers for California, Quebec and Catalonia, spoke of their intermediate governments’ leadership in relation to their central governments. We want to lead and have a prominent role in future planning. Spaces like nrg4SD and ORU must inspire this desire to lead.


Carles Llorens

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