« Paris Climate 2015 should not be a summit that attempts but one that makes decisions. »Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
The 2015 Paris Climate Conference will be one of the biggest climate conferences ever. In order to give the best possible welcome to the 40,000 people expected, France has chosen the Paris-Le Bourget site for its hosting capacity (18 hectares) and its accessibility. The success of COP21 will depend on the events which take place at the heart of the conference centre. This area is only open to accredited persons and is placed under the responsibility of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) General Secretariat. It will be used for as long as required for negotiations, up to 24 hours a day.
The Conference centre includes two plenary rooms, which are the nerve centres of the negotiations, all of which will be broadcast live; 32 negotiating rooms for fine-tuning the texts; a press centre where almost 3,000 journalists from around the world will be working; rooms specifically for parallel events and offices for the COP21 Presidency, the United Nations Team, the delegations and civil society representatives.
The nerve centre for negotiations
Two large plenary rooms will be provided:
- one "solid room" set up in one of the halls can host 1,300 people.
- the other, outside, will be built from scratch from a structure of French-made wooden poles and a "double skin" to improve soundproofing and thermal insulation. Designed in a way that it can be dismantled and re-used for other events, it will be able to accommodate 2,000 people.
Access to these two rooms, which are the nerve centre for negotiations, is through a large entrance hall, a space for reflection and concentration. Everything filmed there is broadcast live on screens placed throughout the conference centre and in the Climate Generations areas, as well as on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website.
It is there that the main debates will take place, under the leadership of the French Presidency. These will be formal debates: in the plenary session, the agendas and decisions will be adopted; regular progress assessments will be carried out and political declarations will be formulated. It is also where all the drama of the negotiations will play out, particularly towards the end of the conference when the COP President must pass an agreement by consensus.
He can only bang his gavel to mark the adoption of an agreement by consensus if no country raises its flag in opposition. And often, consensus is not reached until after several suspended sessions and many sleepless nights, as plenary sessions can resume at any time of the day or night!
Negotiating specific issues in small groups
The negotiating rooms are closed to the press but often open to civil society representatives, and welcome country delegates for group meetings of different sizes on specific issues. Located near the plenary rooms and the central square of the conference centre, built outside the existing halls, these rooms can accommodate different numbers of people, the largest of which can host 500.
The 32 rooms set out for COP21 reflect the large number of issues on the agenda. Climate negotiations cover several dozen issues, such as finance, forestry, the nature of the greenhouses gasses covered by the agreements, verification measures and climate change education. It is in these rooms that the delegates work on writing negotiating texts, and "cleaning them up" before entering the plenary room. It is not unusual to find many journalists outside these rooms, trying to gain information on how a text is progressing.
The press centre can host up to 3,000 journalists from around the world
Designed to host up to 3,000 journalists from around the world, the press centre provides different work spaces: booths for radio and TV journalists, tables with Wi-Fi so that journalists can write and send their articles. All necessary technical measures have been taken to ensure that the press centre will be open to journalists 24 hours per day.
Three press conference rooms with interpreting booths will also be provided, two of which will be inside the press centre. One of them can be used by civil society representatives, while the two other will be for State and party representatives, the COP21/CMP11 Presidency and the United Nations representatives. It is here that the announcements, important declarations and explanations on specific negotiating points take place. These press conference rooms are strategic areas, as journalists are very important intermediaries for commenting on and reporting live news of events in the conference centre. Certain countries sometimes do not hesitate to use these areas to send messages or make announcements even before speaking in the plenary room. In order to provide live coverage of COP21, several studios will also be available for radio and TV stations to record and broadcast their programmes, news, etc.
All press conferences will be filmed and broadcast live on screens placed throughout the conference centre and in the climate Generations areas, as well as on the UNFCCC website.
Media accreditation is restricted to journalists representing officially-registered media organizations in a country recognized by the United Nations General Assembly. To obtain accreditation, a request must be made via the UNFCCC Secretariat's website at the following address www.cop21.gouv.fr/en/media-facilities/press-accreditation-and-travel
Entry is strictly limited to members of each delegation (country or group of countries), who gather there for meetings, to brief colleagues on an informal or bilateral meeting, etc. These areas, which provide maximum confidentiality for parties to hold discussions and fine-tune their negotiating strategy, are subject to a fee.
Areas for influencing the negotiations
At the United Nations, it is the States which make the decisions based on consensus. But civil society representatives, who make up almost half of the accredited persons, are closely linked to the negotiations and have offices reserved in the conference centre. It is there that the representatives from the nine "Major Groups" recognized by the United Nations meet and work, i.e.:
- environmental NGOs (ENGO)
- local government and municipal authorities (LGMA)
- indigenous people’s organizations (IPO)
- business and industry NGOs (BINGO)
- research and independent NGOs (RINGO)
- trade union NGOs (TUNGO)
- women's rights organizations (Women and gender)
- youth organization NGOs (YOUNGO)
- farmers' organizations
To ensure the COP's smooth operation
Two teams have been set up to run COP21, covering both technical and logistical aspects and negotiations.
For the French Presidency, the negotiating team is led by Laurence Tubiana, while the General Secretariat, led by Pierre-Henri Guignard, is responsible for logistical aspects (transport, accommodation, site operations, communications, etc.) Click c’est here for further information on the French climate team.
The United Nations also has two teams: Christiana Figueres is leading the team working on the substantive issues, while a Secretariat, led by Salwa Dallalah, is responsible for organizational and logistical aspects. The French and United Nations areas will be side by side.
Side event rooms
Areas which contribute to the conference's overall dynamic
Side events refer to the many events held "in parallel" to the negotiations, which are not part of the official programme but are opportunities to provide information, to exchange views, to debate and to promote solutions, thus enriching the conference's overall dynamic.
At certain COPs, several hundred side events have been held. They are also of great importance for moving forward negotiations and introducing new issues to the debates. For example, in the past, issues like deforestation and the role of women and local authorities were highlighted by civil society during side events and then gradually appeared on the COP agenda.
A number of side event rooms will be provided in the conference centre, as well as in the climate Generations areas.
Exhibition areas open to the public
While some areas are highly confidential, others, such as stands and pavilions, are designed for holding activities or more public events. Spread throughout the conference centre and in the climate Generations areas, they allow representatives from States, certain institutions and civil society to be present, to be seen and to communicate their proposals, promote actions and campaigns, and hold public discussions with other negotiation stakeholders.
« By hosting COP21, France will set an exemple for other countries to take action against climate disruption.»Ségolène Royal, French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy
France intends to set an example by organizing an environmentally-responsible conference based on the circular economy: zero waste, zero wastage; a huge sorting operation, 100% recycled and recyclable paper; as little plastic as possible; prioritizing public transport, etc.
France has set a roadmap for itself to put in place low but efficient production, maximum usage and maximum recycling. With two goals: a limited and fully-offset carbon footprint and above all, to secure ISO 20121 certification (international sustainable development standard), which would be a first for an event of this magnitude.
A simple, common-sense reality
The circular economy can be summed up as follows: low but efficient production, maximum usage and maximum recycling.In this way, waste generated by the COPcan serve as a resource for others. In the same way, the material used will be rented wherever possible, be it temporary structures built in addition to the existing main halls (tents, floors) or furniture (chairs, tables, lamps, platforms, etc.). Any furniture or material which cannot be rented will be donated to local stakeholders (associations, schools, public libraries, etc.) after the conference.
All waste at Paris-Le Bourget will be sorted.
This simple and educational sorting process will help to get the most out of any waste. With the help of green ambassadors and the relevant signage, visitors and participants will be provided with guidance on how they should sort their waste, which will then be transported via electric-powered trucks to a sorting centre north of the site. The sorting process will be monitored and optimized.
Each category of waste will then be weighed, traced and brought to local recycling depots. Naturally, paper will receive preferential treatment! All cleaning and maintenance products will be fully environmentally friendly. No single doses of coffee will be available, only freshly ground coffee. To put this system in place, special attention will be paid to limiting and even eliminating any visual, acoustic and odour-related disturbances.
Setting up a system
An entire system has been set up to limit plastic waste (cylinders, bottles, cups, etc.) while allowing participants and visitors to quench their thirst for free. Firstly, climate Generations areas and the conference centre will have a network of drinking fountains connected to the water supply. In this way, France is using its public water supply service to provide free, top-quality water to COP21. The plastic cups will be replaced by environmentally-friendly ones, which are returnable and reusable, or in certain cases, by recyclable cups.
Besides, biodegradable and ecological bags will be used instead of plastic bags.
COP21 is aiming to secure this international standard
This international standard is a management system enabling an event to be organized while meeting the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development. This certification, which has never been achieved for an event of this magnitude, meets several goals set by France, including:
- guaranteeing a quality welcome
- limiting COP21's environmental footprint
- leaving a strong legacy for the organizers of future COP meetings and the organization of future major national and international events in France.
- providing the entire French events industry and the service providers involved in organizing COP21 with the opportunity to adopt best practices and to make progress
Setting an example
An event like COP21 uses the equivalent of 40 MW of energy. Meeting the energy needs at Le Bourget is a huge challenge, as the structures and facilities used will only be temporary.
Normally for such events, the huge tents are heated via oil-powered electric generators. This will not be the case at COP21: the "solid" halls will be heated via a new gas boiler, which will help to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions by 75%, thus reducing the carbon footprint and local pollution. Temporary structures will be heated via highly-effective systems (temperature regulators to keep temperatures at about 19°C, the latest models of electric fans and convectors). And the generators will only be used in the event of an emergency (malfunction or cold snap) to ensure a permanent power supply to certain key areas (negotiating spaces, press): they will be recent, innovative models, one of which is powered by vegetable oil and solar panels.
Other systems are also planned: priority is given to natural light by using skylights, LED-based lighting and low-energy bulbs, bikes for recharging mobile-phone and tablet batteries, small "wind trees" for powering the LEDs which will light up the forest of flagsat the entrance to the site, etc.
A selection of ambient lighting will be available based on how each areas is used: functional lighting for working, low-key and neutral for negotiations, convivial for informal meetings, discreet for relaxation.
France, capital of the world for two weeks
COP21 opens up opportunities for the territories involved in organizing the event, which will attract about 40,000 people from around the world.
Organizing this conference will directly help the local economy and will create activities and employment.
The tourism sector in the Île-de-France region could directly benefit from these economic consequences. According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the City of Paris tourist office, in addition to the €170 million in public spending, such an event will generate about €100 million for the Paris region as a result of miscellaneous spending by participants (accommodation, restaurants, shopping, etc.).
To successfully lay out and operate the Paris-Le Bourget site, almost 60 services providers and businesses have been recruited. The jobs generated by the event will mainly benefit people living in the region. About 600 young people, principally from Seine-Saint-Denis, will be mobilized. About 200 of them who are studying vocational training courses will be able to do their work experience with the specialized event service providers working at COP21. And 400 students, mainly from Paris-VIII-Saint-Denis and Paris-XIII-Villetaneuse universities, selected for their foreign-language skills, will help to greet and provide directions to visitors at the Paris-Le Bourget site and at the relevant stations and airports.
Prioritizing public transport
Travelling to the Paris-Le Bourget site by car is not a good idea. There are often traffic jams on the roads to the venue and limited parking spaces make it a very risky proposition. Public transport is by far the best option.
In collaboration with local transport operators and local authorities, a series of measures has been planned to increase and develop the existing public transport networks, particularly Metro line 7 (Fort d’Aubervilliers station) and RER (Paris-area rail network) line B (Le Bourget station) which will be the main lines serving the area. At these two stations, a shuttle bus service with extended operating hours (5 a.m. to 1 a.m) will be set up to transport participants to the conference centre.
For the exclusive use of accredited persons, special bus lanes, operating day and night, will be created between the hotel area at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport and the conference centre. Furthermore, several special night buses will provide a shuttle service between the conference site and the main hotel areas in Paris.
Movement within the site itself, which is huge, will also be made easier via electric minibuses, allowing negotiators and participants to quickly travel from place to place. In addition, a fleet of 200 electric vehicles will shuttle participants between hotels and the conference centre upon request.
High French expectations
SWhile the framework agreement signed by France and the United Nations for organizing COP21 requires the event's carbon emissions to be offset, France has decided to go further still. To reduce COP21's carbon footprint as much as possible, an action plan has been put in place with several components, such as:
- prioritizing public transport
- Special attention will be paid to insulating temporary structures, in particular the plenary room which will be built outdoors, in order to minimize heat loss
- the process launched in collaboration with Paris Tourist Office, dealing with hotels managed by the agency commissioned by France to organize accommodation for participants: 57 % of the proposed rooms now have "sustainable development" certification; they are recognizable via special labels (list of labels available here).
The "paper on demand" system
For the past three years, COPs have been using a "paper on demand" system which aims to eliminate as far as possible documents printed out in advance, to make the use of electronic documents widespread and to only print when necessary. Despite these measures, each COP still generates 3-5 million printed pages, which are often disposed of in regular bins.
At the Paris-Le Bourget site, 100% of the paper to be used by participants and negotiators in their work will have been recycled and will once again be recycled through an innovative sector: a paper manufacturing company located barely 100km (62 miles) from Le Bourget will recycle the used pages into brand new paper! A perfect example of the circular economy!
« On 10 December 1948, France welcomed the United Nations for the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At COP21, France will welcome all countries for a new series of rights.»François Hollande, President of the French Republic
For two weeks, the Paris-Le Bourget site will be transformed into a genuine temporary city, aiming to be both welcoming and friendly. Functional and comfortable workspaces, relaxation areas and community services (bank, post office, newsstands, etc.) will be set up to facilitate the daily lives of participants.
And regardless of the time of day, budget, eating habits and preferences, food will be available from delivery tricycles, a food truck and a restaurant. All will offer home-made, seasonal goods which showcase French gastronomy.
At the climate Generations areas, each day will feature debates, round tables and exhibitions. The size and immediate proximity of these areas to the conference centre make them a first in the history of the COP.
Symbol of the international community
At the main entrance to the conference centre, a forest of flags will formally invite visitors to enter the venue for a historic conference for the climate and for our future. This forest of flags symbolizes the international community and the diversity of participants from all over the world.
Not so far from this forest two "wind trees" will be installed. Behind this poetic name lies a remarkable innovation: a system of wind turbines in the form of a stylized tree, whose revolving leaves act as mini wind turbines which keep the generators turning. The micro-electricity which is generated is multiplied by the number of leaves in the tree. Find out more here.
Aux Champs Elysées !
The "solid" halls at the Paris-Le Bourget site are separated by two main thoroughfares which pass through the site from east to west and north to south. At the point where these thoroughfares meet is a central square. Throughout COP21, these two "streets" and this crossroads will be covered and partially heated, enabling participants to move around the site without being affected by bad weather. Restaurant and relaxation areas as well as services will be set up along the streets to bring the conference centre to life and turn it into a genuine temporary city.
A temporary city
At the heart of this temporary city, participants can access a full range of services: a bank and foreign exchange office, a post office, a newsstand, an infirmary for minor injuries, as well as a meditation room. These all combine to create a friendly atmosphere which is conducive to warm and informal exchanges, a world away from the sometimes tense atmosphere of negotiations and the pressures of tight schedules. And who knows, it might even be over a game of basketball that some stumbling blocks can be removed!
Knowledge and knowledge-sharing
Climate Generations areas (open to the general public daily, with the exception of 6 December 2015) will provide visitors with many opportunities to gather information, participate and envision the future. Each day will include many debates, conferences and round tables. In these areas, civil society stakeholders will set out their projects, initiatives and solutions.
There will be a designated area for cultural and educational exhibitions. Schoolchildren, who will have studied climate-related issues during the year, will be able to display their work. The Nelson Mandela auditorium will host many conferences.
Art and culture will also be honoured: exhibitions, new practices linked to digital technology and screenings followed by debates will provide opportunities to demonstrate how art has addressed climate change and how it views tomorrow's world. Finally, many events in which people can interact with participants in the negotiations will be organized.
There'll be something for everyone!
Regardless of the time of day, budget, eating habits and preferences, food will be available. With delivery tricycles, food trucks, restaurants, takeaways, bakers' ovens, etc. many food options will be available, some of which will be open 24 hours a day, spread throughout the conference centre and the climate Generations areas.
All will offer cuisine showcasing French gastronomy and flavours, while remaining environmentally friendly: short supply chains with local suppliers, seasonal produce, vegetarian dishes, a wide range of GMO-free, organic and/or fair-trade products, and up to 80% of all food on sale will be homemade.
And since this is the COP, carbon labelling will be to the fore, so everyone can choose his/her food in full knowledge of the carbon footprint he/she will be leaving behind, whether large or small!
Every day, unsold food will be sent to local associations for the needy.