COP21 Update – Tuesday, December 8

Today was Gender Day at COP 21. The Women Gender Constituency celebrated by giving awards to several women who have done projects involving climate change adaptations, to increase the resilience of women impacted by climate change. A speaker from Nigeria described projects involving fuelwood efficient stoves, solar dryers and rice-husk briquette-making which improved their finances and their health. A woman from Georgia talked about low carbon projects like solar water heaters  in rural areas. Most of the energy budget of a household budget there is spent on heating water, so  this project saves labor and money. In a society where rural women cannot get credit or might not have construction and maintenance skills the training in this project made them more independent. Yet another speaker talked about a clean cook stove project in Nigeria, which is directed at the needs of women. She reported that 2000 of their kidnapped girls have been rescued from insurgents – now about 500 of the girls are pregnant. An organization called POSH (sponsored by the UN Development Program) is going to train these girls in use of the stoves so they can be trainers and help advance the project.

Al Gore gave a formal presentation to a large audience. He showed the most up to date facts and figures—even video and pictures from events happening while we are at the conference. The evidence for the connection between more intense storms and climate change seems undeniable. He was passionate and very convincing…”Put a price on carbon in the market and on denial in politics!”

We ended the day with a press conference held by the Holy See, which as a state holds special observer status in the UN, giving it the right to speak in the assembly but not to vote. Cardinal Turkson handled a question on the contentious question of “ Common But Differentiated Responsibility” by commenting that the Holy Father would not want for one side to point a finger in blame or declare themselves innocent and therefore worthy of a certain treatment, but that the “other side” would consider it in a spirit of solidarity–and therefore want to transfer technology or help in other ways. A former bishop of Brazil talked about the plight of the Amazon river, rainforest and its indigenous peoples, and what the church is doing to form networks to take common actions in preserving the ecosystems, the flora and fauna, and the people / cultures. Finally a professor from the Vatican Academy of Science described how the pope had brought the social and the natural sciences together, and how they had come to see the moral / ethical issues involved with climate change, to which he later referred in Laudato Si’. They seemed to be fairly optimistic about the way things are going in the negotiations, and they had hopes for a binding document.