One-Planet Talking blog

Picture a hand holding up a small empty picture frame looking out over a bluff above a beach.

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Marianna Poberezhskaya's picture

The Paris deal generally got a very good press. Most reporting in the immediate aftermath had a similar focus on a few key headline points: this was a “landmark victory”, albeit one with a few cautionary notes. Yet a closer look reveals some telling differences.

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Anabela Carvalho's picture

On Saturday morning, as the COP continued past schedule with successive postponements of the release of the agreement text, which was going to be, in all likelihood, a watered down, strategically vague version of what the world needs, I found myself wondering what to do. Having been all week at Le Bourget conference centre as an observer representing IECA, I decided to spend that day on the other side of history, the side of the citizens in the streets of Paris who defiantly organized several demonstrations to express their resolve in struggling for a better planet (eventually authorized by the police the day before).

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Gregg Walker's picture

As I begin to write this, I am sitting a COP 21 plenary room, La Loire, on Saturday 12 December 2015 with two thousand others; from both country delegations and civil society organizations.  We gather in an “overflow” room, watching events taking place in the adjacent plenary room, La Seine.  In that room, French Foreign Minister and COP 21 President Laurent Fabius is highlighting key parts of the “Paris Agreement.”  After more than two decades of negotiations, 196 countries have apparently agreed to a legally binding document to collectively confront the causes and impacts of climate change.

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Chui-Ling Tam's picture

During the 4th Paris Committee meeting on Wednesday Dec 9, as individual countries and regional coalitions responded to the “ambitious” draft text that would be the almost penultimate version of the agreement coming out of COP21, an increasingly powerful and repeated refrain was the “red line” of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Delegate after delegate asserted that 1.5 was the deal-breaker, the line of last defence, the line that defined possibility and certain death for numerous Small Island Developing States and the many states bordering on the oceans.

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Anabela Carvalho's picture

The Conference Centre where the COP21 is being held has seen a plethora of side events in the last two weeks. There are the “official side events”- over 200 according to UNFCCC’s website - and a much greater number held in the national and thematic pavilions. All sorts of topics have been discussed, from agroecology to children’s rights and the “Work of the LEG in supporting the LDCs on NAPs and NAPAs” (that’s a good display of COP lingo for you). And of course business, lots of business.

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Stephen Depoe's picture

I have been reading with interest the many and varied blog posts published by our intrepid IECA colleagues who traveled to Paris for the COP-21 meetings.  Their stories and insights, along with their active participation in various events and side-sessions, have galvanized me anew as to the value and importance of IECA as a stand-alone professional organization.

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Chui-Ling Tam's picture

Sat today by some giant translucent animal figurines for that most furtive and fleeting of COP21 activities – eating lunch – I was approached by a graduate student distributing a questionnaire that has made the annual round of climate change negotiations since COP13 in Bali in 2007, an event that some identify as the pivotal point at which The Blue Economy entered the global lexicon, with its emphasis on oceans.

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Anabela Carvalho's picture

Numbers are a powerful communication code. They carry an appearance of truth and a credibility that tends to be unparalleled by words. Climate-related numbers made headlines around the world again today with the publication of a study on Nature Climate Change that projects a slight decrease of global emissions in 2015. Meanwhile, in Paris, much of the wrangling between parties at the COP21 is about the target of the agreement (which is now in its ‘final’ stages and in the hands of ministers).

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Chui-Ling Tam's picture

Last week, torn between environmental pride and terrorism worry, my 11-year-old told me she had struggled to explain to her school friends what I was doing at COP21. I gave her the main narrative, that human actions were intervening in nature in ways that had contributed to an accelerated rising of the earth’s temperatures, and we had to figure out how to slow, halt or reverse that. Part of my job was to study, explain and improve on communication about threatened environments so that people could design and take effective action. At stake were future generations, like herself and her children and their children. She didn’t think her friends would get it.

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Alison Anderson's picture

At the Paris Climate Summit the media presence is more important than ever. Carola Betzold (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), author of 'Press Briefings in International Climate Negotiations', reflects on which parties to UNFCCC use press briefings, and why.

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Juliet Pinto's picture

In his remarks today at COP21, the former U.S. vice-president, Al Gore, placed the climate crisis in a historical context. “When a choice becomes clear, the outcome is inevitable,” said Gore. “The climate crisis is the latest in a long string of social struggles, from abolition, to women’s rights, anti-apartheid; I could go on. But the world is increasingly recognizing that it is immoral to put 110 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every day as if it were an open sewer.”

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Phaedra C. Pezzullo's picture

At COP21, there are plenty of presentations from experts in STEM fields focusing on facts: climate scientist reports and mathematical data are shared, while technological and engineering innovations are understood as necessary parts of solutions to transform our energy systems and revitalize global economies. But, the headline news and daily debriefs about people making a difference? They focus on the interdisciplinary arts of how to think critically and to communicate in ways that might move others.

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Juliet Pinto's picture

At a panel on sea level rise in Miami last year, audience members repeatedly asked what city officials were doing to combat street flooding and other impacts of climate change overwhelming infrastructure. Panelists, including me, listed the pumps Miami Beach is installing, as well as building code changes, upgrades to flood control infrastructure on the canal systems, and other adaptation measures being implemented.

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Phaedra C. Pezzullo's picture

It is hard to provide or to navigate a COP map. We are gathering in temporary structures in Le Bourget, a suburb of Paris. There are restaurants, restrooms, water bottle refill stations, and lots of meeting spaces. The IECA has a booth in a long building with many other NGOs; there also are great halls for large diplomatic meetings; smaller meeting spaces for spinoff groups; places to recharge your computer through stationary biking; plastic animals that appear to be an artistic statement about the loss of biodiversity; pocket gardens; and much, much more. Plus, there are events throughout the city of Paris during this time.

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Juliet Pinto's picture

“Cognitive dissonance” is a term I am using more frequently. I first heard it as a graduate student learning about communication theory, as we studied the stress people experience when new information confronts deep-held beliefs and attitudes. We are rational creatures, right? We want harmony between our lived experiences and what we believe to be true.

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Phaedra C. Pezzullo's picture

Today, I attended a security briefing and helped set up the IECA booth with Prof. Juliet Pinto & Suzanna Norbeck, JD, from Mediators Beyond Borders (with whom we’re sharing the booth). Despite the state of emergency, the security was nothing compared to the airport in Indianapolis. Honestly. (For an excellent book on U.S. security performances from an intersectional cultural studies perspective, see Rachel Hall’s *The Transparent Traveler*.)

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Juliet Pinto's picture

The week before I left for the COP21 talks, I spent a considerable amount of time driving around my local neighborhoods in Miami and watching water pool on the streets. It bubbled up rapidly through storm drains, spreading across streets, turning green grass into yellow stalks, sloshing across roadways as cars splashed through and people held their shoes in their hands to gingerly tiptoe across.

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Phaedra C. Pezzullo's picture

Today, I’m getting on a plane to Paris, France, for the first week of COP21; organized by Gregg Walker, I am one of four delegates for the International Environmental Communication Association Climate Working Group. Our goal is to try to blog/tweet daily during COP21 to try to raise awareness about climate communication. In Paris over the next two weeks—during which climate activists already are being put under house arrest and criminalized for reasons completely unrelated to the impetus of the state of emergency—this simple act of encouraging public attention and debate matters.

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Alison Anderson's picture

Tema Milstein (University of New Mexico), author of 'The Performer Metaphor: “Mother Nature Never Gives Us the Same Show Twice”', provides a timely analysis of SeaWorld's announcement that it is to introduce sweeping changes, including phasing out its “Shamu” orca show.

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Stephen Depoe's picture

Here is the eighth--and final--IECA excursion assignment I am giving my Environmental Communication class this semester.  The assignment asks them to read through the articles published in 2015 in our journal Environmental Communication, then identify and list five articles that they think are most relevant to topics covered in our class this semester.

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