As negotiations resumed on Monday, there was palpable energy in the Bonn Zone that culminated in a spirited protest at a side event held by the United States on “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation.”
This event featured a panel of Trump administration members and the vice president of coal generation and emissions technologies at Peabody Energy, marking this the first time that the official United States delegation had spoken publicly at COP23. A huge line of people waiting to attend the event formed hours before the panel discussion started. Shortly after the session began, a large group of protesters began singing an alternate version of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”:
So you claim to be an American
But we see right through your greed;
It’s killing across the world
for that coal money.
And we proudly stand up and tell you to
Keep it in the ground.
The people of the world unite
and we are here to say.
Protesters quickly exited the event and were joined by a large group of supporters in the Bonn Zone’s atrium, where the lively rally continued.
Before this protest, numerous side events focusing on investments in renewable energy and other green technologies were held throughout the Bonn Zone. An early morning session was held on Sustainable Investment, Private Capital and Climate Finance at the Talanoa Lodge, an exhibition area hosted by the German and Fijian governments built for civil society, industry, regions and municipalities. Representatives for this event included DZ BANK AG, Commerzbank AG, the African Development Bank Group, Shell International, Ltd. and CDP, an international organization formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project that works with market forces. Participants talked about the experience of mobilizing private capital to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, developing the global green bond market and utilizing the carbon capture and storage process.
“Ultimately, everyone’s climate portfolios have to be resilient and below the two degree goal,” said Paul Simpson, the CEO of CDP.
Another side event on Reducing Livestock’s Long Shadow – Opportunities to Keep Warming Well Below 2⁰C was held later that morning. The event began with a fiery speech by Ifat Zur of the Green Course, an environmental NGO based in Israel. Zur blasted the livestock industry for being an inefficient and wasteful sector that is built upon the suffering of billions of animals. Zur criticized the conference for its decision to offer meat options, pointing out the hypocrisy of a climate change conference serving carbon intensive food.
“Lucky for us, vegan food is delicious. It is better for us,” said Zur.
Zur was followed by Dr. Helen Harwatt, formerly of Loma Linda University. Harwatt also discussed reducing the footprint of the livestock sector, pointing out it contributes to 23 percent of total warming.
“The Paris Agreement will be increasingly difficult to meet if methane reductions are not also addressed strongly and rapidly,” said Harwatt.
In the afternoon, the French government held a side event on Engie, the French multinational electric utility company, and its role in helping reach the 2℃ target. The panel featured two speakers, Paul Simons, the Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IAEA), and Isabelle Kocher, the Chief Executive Officer of Engie. The panelists discussed strategies undertaken by IAEA and Engie to reduce their carbon footprint.
“We have decided to be at the forefront of the way,” said Kocher.
Following the Engie panel discussion was a side event, Ecovillages for Climate Action: Opportunities for Europe,inspired by Asia, Africa and Latin America. In this event, speakers working in these three regions of the world shared their stories of their work in investing in solar panels, green buildings and fertilizer technologies.
During the Ecovillages event, Thomas Duveau of Mobisol, a German business that works on installing solar energy systems in East Africa, spoke about the Solar Revolution – the Contribution of Off Grid Solar to Electrifying Rural Africa. Duveau stated that a $50 billion investment could provide electricity for the entire continent, pointing out that the only thing that is lacking for this is the investors.