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COP23 in Bonn: D-55

This year the annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) will be held in Bonn, from 6 to 17 November. The Fiji Islands will hold the chair, a strong signal since this archipelago is vulnerable to climatic effects due to its low level above the sea and storm surges.

From the COP21 to the COP23

Two years after the COP21 and the wave of enthusiasm that accompanied the signature of the Paris Agreement, we have now entered a period of uncertainty. The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement and the self-abstraction behind which many developed countries appear to want to take shelter, are diametrically opposed to the conclusion drawn at Paris: climate change goes far beyond national borders and obliges radical rethinking of our modes of development.

The COP22 ended with the adoption of a timetable for implementing the Paris Agreement, discussions on which should reach their final stage in November 2018, during the COP24 attributed to Poland. As for China, at Marrakech it reasserted its targets for reducing GHG emissions.

The implementation of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, a movement launched during the COP21 by African Heads of State and supported by the developed countries, has progressed. However, no major progress has been made in determining how the $100 billion dollars announced in favour of the developing countries by the developed ones will be raised.

The two previous COPs (21 and 22) showed that civil society and local governments henceforth have a major role to play in both mobilisation and carrying out concrete actions. This highlights the limits of the UN system in which only States are represented and authorised to take decisions, and the deep gulf that separates the space dedicated to civil society and the forum of negotiations

The role of art in mobilising climate awareness

This year the conference will be enhanced by new perceptions thanks to real opportunities for artistic expression. By making scientific knowledge intelligible and treating it with sensitivity, art can act as a trigger to generate awareness of the urgency for action at every level, from governments to citizens.

The numerous events organised at Bonn during the conference include the exhibition “Weather Report – About Weather Culture and Climate Science” (7 October – 4 March 2018, at the Bundeskunsthalle) which will present artistic, historic and scientific works from all over the world.

The works exhibited will include paintings by William Turner, John Constable and Otto Modersohn, the first waterproof rubber shoes by Macintosh, an original thermometer by Daniel Fahrenheit and traditional works of art from Fiji. The Fijian double-hulled canoe (Drua). It was built at Suva in the Fiji Islands with the aid of the Bundeskunsthalle and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

In addition, a traditional Fijian canoe (drua), a symbol of the need to protect the islands and the oceans, will be exhibited at the site of the COP23. The exhibition will cover short term meteorological events and long term climatic changes, and their impacts on nature, human civilisation and culture.

This initiative is part of the movement started this year by the UNFCCC which promotes art linked to climate change through its initiative #Art4Climate in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle.

A gulf appears to separate the worlds of art and the sciences. The real world is not divided into disciplines: art can spark solid intellectual ideas and science can be wonderfully beautiful. Our aim is to show the beauty of all types of weather and climatic phenomena, and to make the public aware of the urgent need for protection.

Henriette Pleiger,
Curator of the exhibition at the Bundeskunsthalle

IFGR and the COP23

This year, Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers will once again be involved in the COP23, by organising a side-event devoted to rivers. The theme will extend the debates of IFGR’s 5th session held two weeks beforehand, in Lyon and Annecy (from 9 to 13 October), on river pollution, river-related health issues and the links between river pollution and that of the oceans, awareness of which is increasing. Although the situation of the oceans will be given great attention at the COP23, consideration must also be given to the state of rivers. Indeed, according to a study published recently, 80% of the oceans’ pollution stems from microparticles carried into them by rivers.

IFGR is joining mobilisation in favour of the oceans and hopes to make its contribution to these reflections by working upstream, with the formulation of tools capable of solving river pollution problems.

In previous years, IFGR gave a voice to rivers with the publication of a plea for rivers in Le Figaro during the COP21, written by Erik Orsenna and signed by the panellists, then with the organisation of a side-event at the COP22 of Marrakech on 9 November 2016.

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