Day 7. #COP23 Bonn. Vinaka. My last day!

We had all sorts over for the last few days. Al Gore yesterday. This bloke today. All with the same message. ‘we have to Do… and now!’


Vinaka is thank you in Fijian. I have now completed my stint at COP. I have gained much more than I gave. So many lessons learnt from my side and many of ours in National Trust Wales shared. It is a Sunday which from previous COPs is a day of rest. But not this year. I was in early as WWF were hosting a Global EV side event. Roseanna Cunningham from Scottish Gov was an inspiration speaker in intent and ambition for an EV near future for Scotland (100% by 2032). Only trumped by the Oslo vice mayor Lan Marie Berg who is already getting there in scale and sheer breadth. We also had Dr Becker from BMW  who said the future is electric but it’s causing a head scratcher for them in terms of business planning e.g. 63% of all BMW’s sold in Norway are EV’s but only 1% in Italy. All governed by National, regional and then urban priorities. One thing he said which is true for Wales that if the infrastructure is not there… the car take up will not follow. Job for government! Oslo gearing up for another 600 rapid chargers! One thing though in the event was the focus was more urban than rural… but I suppose you start where the population is. But Norway is keeping an eye on social justice

As I keep telling people. I am not competitive… at all. Even through I was winning the EV quiz at the Global EV event. I am not competitive! “back of the net” … at all!

A certain Mr Schwarzenegger was in da house. Next to our afternoon presentation actually. You could spot him in our zone just by the crush of TV cameras. It was my last presentation this pm before heading back home. Heritage and the impact of climate change. It was a shame again that the ones most impacted are the ones who will lose the most of their cultural inheritance. Oliver carries on for the next week. best of luck!

The not so stop me in my tracks part of today was the normal use of EV and hydrogen buses in the city?… and why not!

A lot of the EV Bonn buses. It was strange not seeing belching black smoke, the knock of the engine. All you hear was a slight whirr from the electric motors. cool!

Learnt a new word today which is the same as our Welsh word for place, people, belonging, defining… difficult to translate ‘Cynefin’ which in Fijian is Vanua

The Fijian pavilion before the throngs arrived at COP. Such a good place to ‘have a chat’ and discuss big subjects. The german site was really good as well… might have been because of the excellent low-carbon coffee but I can’t comment

Vinaka COP23! (more to come as I assimilate a lot of the info I have gathered over the last week or so. Now on to London to run my annual lecture for New York University

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Day 6 #COP23 from Bonn. Au maru

There are many view points in Bonn. These were handed out by the nuclear lobby. They were comparing the radiation of a banana as the same as a power plant. They forgot to mention the fact that a banana does not melt down and pollute thousands of square miles. Or I have been eating the wrong bananas?

Au maru is ‘I’m happy’ in Fijian (not sure if you remember but Fiji holds the seat this time for the climate change talks… hence all the Fijian language over the last few days!) Tomorrow International National Trust Organisation and ICOMOS have the honor of presenting at the Fijian stand in COP23. Today was an early start and a radio call in to gods own country of Wales (BBC Cymru) to talk of my findings to date of the process and what its been like. Think I have another one with BBC Cymru again on Monday. I was invited to take part in BBC Radio 4 ‘Costing the earth’ but unfortunately I will be on my way home. Oliver my partner in crime over here from INTO was also invited and he will be doing the honors. From here it was over to a local church to take part in another presentation and again sharing what we have done and what we have learnt on the renewable energy but also mitigation journey over in National Trust Wales.

many a gadget has been tried out as well here in Bonn. this is Pavagen or a generating pavement on the GB stand. Interesting!

Back in the afternoon and another side event this time on the EU stand and it was Peat, wet lands and satellites (a title and a half). The importance of peat as a climate change mitigator and adaptation biome has really hit home to me in this conference. The amount of carbon leaking out of 1Ha of drying peat per annum is the same as flying round the world three times, the figures kept coming and coming from the presentation. I will do a separate blog on peat. One interesting fact is that as we take carbon out of the atmosphere in the decades tome come (there’s confidence)  the sea will then leak out the extra amount its has been absorbing from us…and so it’s not just the atmosphere we have to deal with. We have the legacy of the sea to mop up as well. As we were getting into the case studies and the free satellite data now available a 200 person German oompah band struck up outside the building. We smiled, the presenter shrugged and we went out to enjoy the spectacle… life is too short sometimes to learn everything about peat when you have an oompah band to listen and look at!

Not only did this stop me in my tracks but also bought a smile on my face (there were 200 of them here resplendent in uniforms and large-scale oompah brass band) Its been a long week!

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Day 5 COP23 Bonn. Vakanuinui Vinaka and a surprise

Virtual Reality (VR) abounds here on many of the stands at COP23. It makes for a strange sight with people lost in other worlds. I suppose you could say the same of the negotiations happening stones throw away to save us all!

My words of today are Vakanuinui Vinaka or good luck in Fijian. It was my first real presentation (before the rest in the next couple of days) about the National Trust in Wales’s work on renewable energy mitigation within special places and then how we share what we have leant locally with communities and nationally through the fit for the future network.  Today was a full on day, end to end. We had a side event in the UK pavilion in the morning. Highlighting the problem but also the solutions and that the heritage and community sector have a big part to play. We as part of the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) Delegation are working with many players including the Global Village Network and the Center for Alternative Energy here at the conference.

The UK stand was our site for the morning. Sharing with others what we have learnt on making our heritage fit for the future

From here it was my first ever video blog for the Future Generations Office here in Wales. (should be out next week sometime) on the progress to date here in COP23. Then a full on planning session for tomorrows events where we have taken over a local church for a full day of presentations and such like. I still had time for the odd side event hosted by others. The event on Global Importance of Agricultural heritage systems was a revelation for me and scientific evidence for our work . Prof Mauro Angoletti was presenting his research on how we have so much to learn from previous generations to help future generation.His examples of terrace farming in Italy preventing land slide today, orange tree growing in stone enclosures in sites where normally orange trees would not grow and the list went on an on. The ancient 70,000Ha Hani rice terraces in China were one of the only sites to withstand the recent one a hundred year drought in 2016 (actually crops increased) where modern systems failed completely. This to me was the evidence that heritage systems and cultural ways have a big part to play in tackling some of the changes we are going through with climate change. We just need to look at them afresh.

the Fiji vulnerability report is a good read if you want to assess your countries options.

Lastly it was the launch of the Fiji climate vulnerability report at the end of the day. A really good piece of economic and development plan review of risks, impacts but also the nity gritty of what to do. I have a copy of the rather large report…bed time reading


… my surprise of the day. not so much stopped me in my tracks but put a bounce in my step!

The stopped me in my tracks bit today was a text from a friend Shea saying that I had won this years outstanding advocate award in the annual Renewables UK Wales Green energy awards . Not sure who put me forward but thanks and its only because I work with some stunning people and they make my work possible

Early start tomorrow as I have an Interview on BBC Radio Cymru ‘Galwad Cynnar’ on the work in COP

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Day 4 COP23 Bonn. Bula Vinaka

I do have to say the Fijians know how to host a presentation and meeting. facilitators drawing live images, comfy seats and stunning meeting places

Bula Vinaka is a warm welcome in Fijian which was the greeting we got this morning in the first event . Warm welcome but big subject. Loss and damage leading to climate justice. The pacific islands as they say have almost no impact on global warming but are having to take the brunt of the developed worlds impacts. We had eminent well informed people presenting us with some startling facts such as the one that 25 companies generate 70% of the worlds carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel extraction and mining. The suggested solution was around Climate damage tax as many of these countries and companies are currently ‘out sourcing’ their true cost to others. But they were suggesting that half this tax in the developed world be kept to help those most in need in their own countries and half go to a global fund. All of the damages tax be kept in developing nations to deal with the impacts. But ensuring this tax is simply not passed through to the customer and not from the companies profits would be difficult!

These got us talking and eating! This was my moment today! (the winner)

The Nordic center ran a day on food and the impacts it has on us all from health to climate and  was a big subject. The whole day was dedicated to it as its is as complex as its huge. The edible grubs on the table made an interesting talking point. (They were ok actually). in terms of tomatoes for example 1/3 of its cost is energy and then the carbon impact of this… wished I could have stayed for longer

spent the rest of the day preparing for the next three days of presentations. Tomorrow its the UK pavilion.

I also had a philosophical chat today with a UN person about the negotiations and how they reach agreements. The psychology is incredible. He gave me an example. If one party calls a something an apple and the other calls it a banana and neither will move from this fact, then you have a problem. The UN will suggest that the two of them can agree that its a fruit and then they can move on. (but leaves the fundamental problem there for a later date)  he said discussions on commas can take lawyers and such on… how will we survive as a species!

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Day 3 COP23 Bonn. Ediok tudu bok

Inspirational session from the Pacific Warriors this afternoon

Tokelauan (apologies probably miss spelled of the saying) for how the Panadan tree forms deep secure roots in the sand and will not move. Tokelau is a small country in the Pacific which has already gone 100% renewables but is also only 5m meters above sea level. It’s a metaphor being used for the people and this challenge of climate change. The warrior message is simple ‘we are not drowning we are fighting. Today was one of those days when people say deep things and they stir something in you. The Pacific Warriors ( held a side event here at COP in Bonn and what a side event. The passion, deep belief, heritage, culture, religion and sense of place came over stronger than I have ever heard it before from anyone. We have in Welsh similar words such as hiraeth and cynefin but I have never heard it said with such strength. We are dabbling around the edges with deals up on deal with fossil fuels. You should have all been here today. I would like to get many a senior manager of most if not all of the organisations (NGO’s included) of the developed north to talk Net Present Value, return on investment, risk modeling, economic models to these warriors and their countries who are having to pick up our bill for fossil fuel use. Even at 1.5c increase many of these islands and some countries are doomed. Astonishing

Our Oliver Maurice from INTO sharing and provoking

Earlier in the day we got going with an International National Trusts Organisation side event co hosted with Eco Villages Network, Centre for Alternative Technology, Nordic Folk Centre and Open Team looking at heritage, community, local and global solutions to the problems we have today from Climate change. I love going to presentations where I come away with ‘an I’ve had an idea moment’ I can hear Paul Southall groan from here! Some inspirational presentations from around the World and even a small mention of the National Trust Wales hydro on Snowdon. I’m now getting ready for a similar event in the UK pavilion on Friday where our work in Wales will be used as I hope inspiration for others and how we have then helped communities learn from this

My winner today of the ‘stopped me in my tracks’ moment of day 3. These cod skin fish lamp shades at the Nordic Solutions site

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Day 2 COP23 from Bonn. Bula

It was my day on transport. The COP organizers have supplied us with thousands of bikes to get between sites

Day 2 and things are starting to settle into the COP routine. The word ‘Bula’ is welcome in Fijian (the presidency of COP23 is under Fiji) but also the name of the second COP site located about 1km from where I’m based which is the Bonn zone. I forgot to say yesterday why I’m here which is a basic mistake. INTO (International National Trusts Organisation) which I’m a delegate of is here to represent and raise a voice about something called loss and damage in IPCC speak (international panel on climate change) from climate change of heritage and culture. Too easy to gloss over the loss from climate impacts to tangible and intangible heritage and culture but once its gone its gone for ever. In UN speak I’m an Observer but also taking part in the hundreds of what are called side events to the main negotiations here in Bonn

The US Peoples delegation. Telling it as it is. Even Syria has signed the Paris agreement today making Mr Trumps US the only country in the world now not to agree with the agreement

I was fascinated by one title of an event which was called ‘the U.S. Peoples delegation Takes on the Trump administration’ the anger from the speakers of what the administration in the US is doing or not doing was visceral and to quote Dallas Goldtooth from the Dakota tribe ‘that idiot in the Whitehouse does not represent the people of the US’ he then went on to list the many climate change refugees already in the US especially around Louisiana. But in going here I missed a session on the disappearing small island states in the Pacific which was a shame.

Wow the level of abbreviations here is astonishing. I thought I knew jargon but we are in a new language area here in Bonn. SDG, LDC’s, SDC and the list goes on and on. Google translate should have climate change language translation on it. I’m keeping up but just about!

hydrogen car with an EV bus in the background… the near future is here in Bonn

My big thing from today was on sustainable travel. Bonn has gone for EV, Hybrid and Hydrogen buses in a big way but then put in the fact that every manufacturer has supplied hydrogen and EV cars for delegates and it looks like the very near future in terms of low-carbon… can’t wait

I also started to get my head around (finally) blockchain from another side event which has been touted for a few years now as a way of ultimate peer-to-peer supply (of almost anything from energy to carbon to services)  and got me thinking on some projects but more on this later


the award for interpretation and stopping me in my tracks goes to this 6m copper polar bear impaled on a steel oil pipe line sculpture. The pipe is curved into the shape of the CO2 graph curve from 1950 to 2017. The sculpture is called Unbearable by Jens Galschiot. Stunning art!

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Day 1 COP23 Bonn. ‘Talanoa’

First day and first hour of COP23 in Bonn. Nice and slow start before the 20,000 people storm to come

Here again at a COP. By the way Talanoa is a site within COP but also a Fijian word for a safe place to sit down and have a chat to ‘have it out’ which I really  like. I’m here as an environmental advisor and also father looking to see how we can save the future generations from picking up our bill for miss managing the planet and also sharing with and gaining from others . Bonn in Germany is the venue for Fiji’s presidency of the COP and its my day 1. I’m here both representing the International National Trust organisation and the National Trust Wales.

The prime minister of Fiji opening the Fiji stand at COP.

From the bomb scare yesterday meaning a minor inconvenience in registration to the lack of re usable coffee cups the perspective is set in terms of priorities from various people I have spoken to. Speaking with Prime Ministers and Arch bishops I have gained a good insight into the  main themes. One of my first side events as they call them here was in the meaning of COP23 and expectation from developing countries. From my first presentation, its about responsibility and money. Excellent presentation by Andres Mogro from Ecuador about the funding issue. Interesting use of a word mobilizing and then the dropping of a single comma before the drafting of the Paris agreement has meant the devil and his detail.

The winner of today’s engagement award from me has been the chocolate handing out work of Plant for the Planet and their trillion trees campaign. compelling and delicious

In Paris a $100bn was promised for mitigation and adaptation but interestingly this money was termed as $100bn mobilized with the change of a single coma. Mobilized has turned out to be for every $1 given by a developed country that a developing has to find $6 dollars to match hence the word mobilized means that those with least with give the most (paying for our bill in the developing countries). Another pet grumble from me  has been the focus on mitigating rather than adaptation because mitigating can make money and adaptation costs. (90% funding for mitigation since it  makes income vs. 10% for adaptation or dealing with the consequences)

strong pitch from young people presentation on climate change and the impact of a category 5 typhoon last year in Fiji

few lines from todays side events.

if we lose our peat soils then we have no chance of keeping global warming below 2C

Ocean acidification is here and now. It is negatively impacting most of the species in the sea (the sea absorbs most of the CO2 currently)

the German Fiji youth exchange especially following the Category 5 typhoon Winston was one of the most powerful presentations today

problems and solutions abound here!


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