Impressions from Day 2 at COP21: Commitments, Hope, Controversy and Chocolate

Paris, December 2nd, 2015

Dear Clients, Dear followers,
I wanted to give you a glimpse of the COP21 that just started as I was lucky to attend yesterday morning in Paris-Le Bourget. You probably watched some of the president’s speeches on Monday. 147 heads of state to be exact, three minutes each, a bit more for Obama. According to Xi Jinping, China’s President: “The Paris conference is not the finishing line but a new starting point”, I agree. The least developed countries called to adopt an agreement on the attempt to keep rising temperatures in the maximum limit of 1.5°C, I agree. This morning in the RER on my way to the conference, I heard someone saying “If they do what they say (talking about the presidents) then Earth will become a paradise”. Well, if we want those speeches to become reality, we will need solutions.

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This is how EcoVadis comes into the play. We propose solutions to help disseminate good environmental practices throughout supply chains, and in particular GHG emissions reductions. That’s the reason why we applied to become a sponsor of the COP21. Primarly, to help & contribute to the success of the event. Secondly, to build awareness of solutions.

And we won: We were fortunate enough to have been selected by COP21, thanks to the work of Alejandra Mirand, Pierre-François Thaler, our Sales & Marketing teams , and many others EcoVadians. We became a proud sponsor of the COP21. When you arrive at the COP21, the first thing you see after you pass the tight security line is a giant wall with all the sponsors of the COP21, EcoVadis being in a good place.

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The next thing you see is a team of young people distributing chocolate bars called “the Change Chocolate“,the label being a great idea inorder to give energy to the negotiators at the event. You should start your workday with a piece of chocolate J

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Being a sponsor of the COP21 does not come without its duties. First, money matters. We convinced the COP21 that instead of giving money, we would evaluate their suppliers for free (in-kind donation). As a matter of fact, the COP21 organization is pursuing the “ISO 20021 the norm for responsible events and conferences. Part of the requirements is to engage suppliers to pursue a CSR route, and to verify that they are responsible. In this context we will evaluate their suppliers once in the coming weeks, and another time in 6 months. Secondly,we are also in charge of organizing a 90-minute panel discussion at the COP21. It will be held on Friday the 4th of December, 15h15 on the subject “driving CO2 reductions throughout supply chains”. More details & program here.

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Below is a photo of the presiding table where Laurent Fabius, president of the COP21 seats and manages the debates (good luck !).

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The COP21 is not just a big room with delegates from all over the world debating on the details of a 50 page agreement towards a less than 2°C temperature rise, it is also a big event for countries to show their solutions, for NGOs to voice their concerns, for companies to present theirs services and for many people to raise awareness. Like the man below from Peru.

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“Peru is responsible for just 0.1% of global CO2 emissions but is one of the countries suffering the most from the impacts of climate change. Figures from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios indicate that Peru in South America will see the greatest temperature rises due to climate change. Their figures predict a dry season average temperature increase of between 0.7°C and 1.8°C by 2020 and between 1°C and 4°C by 2050. The Stern Review also confirms that Peru is one of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries”.

I also saw a robot in the Chinese pavilion that (who?) was supposed to play the role of a hostess. But apparently it did not work. “Engineering problem” his master told me. So much for singularity.

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The COP21 is also a showcase for responsible and sustainable events. That’s why you have a meditation room because everyone knows that after a meditation session,negotiations are smoother. I personally opted for the restaurant option.

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If you want to charge your laptop or your mobile phone, you have charging stations…but you have to cycle. Burn calories while you accumulate electrons. You can also just cycle, like I did to stretch my legs. I think we should have this kind of desk at EcoVadis.

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And if you want to listen to radio, you also have to cycle (see below). Apparently in the new sustainable world that is coming, we will have to cycle a lot, from cars to bicycles. Just when China passed from bicycles to cars. Bad timing…

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Each of the major countries has its pavilion to communicate about its engagements. The German one is clear about the target: less than 2°C of temperature rise before the end of the century.

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The Chinese one is more enigmatic. There is no number. They are probably waiting for the end of the conference. On the first day, Xi Jinping engaged his country to peak CO2 emissions. by 2030. Which means that until 2030 it will continue to rise (!) and after when they have caught up with developed countries in terms of “progress”, then they will start reducing their CO2 emissions. Would not it be too late?

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That’s one of the disagreements between so-called developed countries and the developing ones. Developing ones want to have a chance to develop as much before it is too late, meaning when they can’t burn fossil fuels anymore (Tough dilemma). Developed countries are ready to compromise on this. In my opinion, it is a mistake. Developed countries should explain to developing ones that you do not live better when you have a bigger fridge or a bigger car…but the discussion remains open.

Just before leaving, in front of the bus station I saw a giant “wind tree” (arbre à vent) which is a new form of wind energy. It is called micro wind and it is a French invention. “Cocoricco”. Its inventor noticed during summer days when there was no wind that the leaves of trees were still moving. That’s how the idea of the “Arbre à vent” came to his mind. And from that he designed fake leaves able to move without much wind. Biomimicry in action.

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To finalize this COP21 note, I have to pay tribute to our french president whom I saw rushing trough the stands with his dedicated entourage. No doubt that if negotiations go as fast as François’s pace, then we will have fixed climate change before the end of the week.

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But let’s not count solely on that. Our best approach to contribute is to continue doing what we do as best as possible. By the end of the year, we would have asked more than 10,000 companies in 2015 what they do in terms of GHG policy, actions and reporting, not to mention the KPI module. This surely has great impact. So let’s all keep up the good work ☺

Thanks

Sylvain Guyoton | Vice President Research

3 December 2015