Florence Reynolds: Australian presents John Key a Fossil

Today was the first day of COP21. We left our hostel at 6:30am and caught the train to Le Bourget in the dark. Apologies at this stage for the brief and possibly bland blog – I am already seriously suffering from the effects of a COP sleep schedule. 

Once inside the venue, I somehow managed to get separated from my delegation by walking into a restricted area with heads of State, and then spent an hour trying to find my way around the massive conference centre using the few and far between, unoriented maps. Finally I arrived at the 8am meeting room for the Spokescouncil of YOUNGO (the youth constituency of the UNFCCC).

I divided my time between meetings on updates on changes of stance by country, live-streaming the head of states addresses, keeping an eye on Twitter for important updates, attending YOUNGO meetings, and doing background work to set up a Zero Waste YOUNGO working group.

In the in-between-moments, I took the time to reflect. I was astounded by the moment we were living in. I was there, a young and insignificant person from a small island at the bottom of the world – amongst people from governments, NGOs, businesses, and media from around the globe. I was there, witnessing a moment that will define the history of our entire planet.

The defining moment of the day for me – as well as a crowd of hundreds of negotiators and civil society – was the Fossil of the Day awards.

These awards are famous within the negotiations. Every day at 6pm, there is a comedic presentation of plastic trophy filled with coal and a plastic dinosaur. The prize goes to whichever country happens to “do their best to do their worst” in negotiations that day. The crowd waited with anticipation and good humour for the announcement by Australian comedian, Dan Ilic.

New Zealand was named as the Fossil of the Day, along with Belgium. Unfortunately for us Kiwis, it seemed that our Prime Minister John Key had made a hypocritical speech at the “Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform” event. In this speech, Key had showed support for reform on the issue. Francisco Hernandez from the New Zealand Youth Delegation called him out for hypocrisy, reporting that “his government spends nearly $84.92 million on fossil fuel subsidies and almost 20 times as much supporting fossil fuel industry promotion compared to renewable energy promotion.” Check out what the New Zealand media thinks about this.

As a Kiwi, I'd love to see our country taking a proactive lead in negotiations. At this stage it seems unlikely. But who knows... Tomorrow is another day.

Speaking of which, it's time for bed.

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.

Posted on December 1, 2015 and filed under UN Climate Talks 2015.