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10/12 - 2015

Eleventh Day at COP21

WHAT: Solar Impulse pilots and founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are at the Paris Climate Conference COP21!

WHY: To promote clean technologies and use Solar Impulse as an example to help reach an agreement at COP21.

HOW: By presenting a list of concrete solutions you can find here.

WTF: A small part of the team is there to cover from the inside. Follow the adventures of Solar Agents 001 and 002 from Day 1.

TLDR: Strong and ambitious draft, Main points of the agreement, Debating responsibilities and carbon pricing, Live with the Spindrift 2 trimaran crew, Sean Paul performance, Awarding the Lighthouse Activities of the Momentum for Change


Agents 001 and 002 sit down at their regular café, order two espressos, and start reading the day’s news on their screens. Yesterday, Laurent Fabius, President of #COP21, presented the draft of the agreement, and this morning, the whole world is talking about it.

A 001: Nature interviewed Christina Figueres, Executive secretary of the UNFCCC, yesterday. She did a recap of the main points that the final agreement has to cover, namely:

  • Protect the most vulnerable
  • Be fair to all countries, leave no one behind
  • Send a signal to the private sector, capital markets, research and technology, that they need to accelerate the shift
  • Establish the process throughout which the next 10-20 years, we will be able to truly tell whether we are progressing or not


What have you got?

A 002: An article by Domian Ryan.

A 001: Who’s that?

A 002: The head of International Policy of The Climate Group, an influential NGO. He speaks of “a strong and ambitious draft”.

A 001: That’s encouraging! Fabius was optimistic yesterday, but I personally didn’t have the courage to go through the draft’s 29 pages, and so didn’t really know what to think of it.

A 002: Yeah, after all the criticisms at the beginning of the week, it’s reassuring to see that progress is being made. Domian Ryan nevertheless reminds negotiators that the agreement can’t sacrifice any of the points mentioned by Figueres, otherwise it won’t work.


A 001: Apparently there’s still a lot of squabbling over some issues. Le Monde reports that Malaysia, speaking in the name of twenty or so developing countries, considers that the draft challenges the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. It’s the backbone of the 1992 climate change convention which initiated the COP conferences, and states that climate action is first the responsibility of the developed countries considering they are responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions.

A 002: Hmmm, and I imagine oil producing countries are also in disagreement with some elements of the draft?

A 001: Spot on. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for instance, who make a lot of money with oil, are totally against the idea of including carbon pricing as one of the measures.

A 002: I must be tough being President of the COP and having to listen and take into account everyone’s grievances.

A 001: Especially when you know the world’s future depends on it!

A 002: It goes to show that Bertrand Piccard is completely right when he declares that we need to offer both rich and poor countries a share in the returns on investment.

A 001: Yeah, if the nations aren’t all on board, there’s no point.

A 002, checking his watch: We better get going. Bertrand Piccard is going to be talking live with the crew of the Spindrift 2 trimaran, currently crossing the Indian Ocean, and you know how long it takes to get to Le Bourget…

At around midday, sailor Dona Bertarelli and pilot Bertrand Piccard warmly greet each other as the communication begins.

D.B: I hope you’ll have good news to give us at the end of COP21!  

B.P: What I can tell you is that there’s a lot of enthusiasm in the political and industrial world here, but what we now need is for negotiators to make concessions, and not to stick to their positions.

Agents 001 and 002 admire the boat smoothly sailing the impressive ocean. The crew’s goal is to beat the previous record of the Jules Verne Trophy, held by French yachtsman Loïck Peyron. For that, they have to circumnavigate the globe and be back in France by the 6th of January.



Later that day, Bertrand has been asked to give out their awards to the Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activity winners. As they try to find their way towards the room, they run into singer Sean Paul who’s got a message for them:


Agent 001 wants to take a selfie, but Agent 002 pulls him away, they have to rush.

A 001, whispering as they sit down in the public: What does that fancy name hide?

A 002: Momentum for Change was created by the United Nations to shine light on the most inspiring and transformational mitigation and adaptation activities all over the world. And they called them the “Lighthouse Activities”.

A 001: I’m guessing it’s because they show other people the way to tackle climate change.

A 002: Probably. In any case they prove that we don’t need to wait for a global agreement to start acting!

A 001: No wonder they’ve asked Bertrand to preside the ceremony then. He and André Borschberg are always repeating, and rightfully so, that there’s no time to waste. That we already have so many technologies, including the ones on Solar Impulse, that can be implemented in our daily lives to cut our energy consumption by half. And who are the awards going to this year?

A 002: I honestly can’t remember. All I know is that there are 16 projects distributed into 4 categories: Urban Poor, Women for Results, Financing for Climate-Friendly Investment, Information and Communications Technology Solutions.

The ceremony begins, and Bertrand welcomes United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.


The first project to be rewarded is E-waste, an initiative which trains waste pickers in India to collect electronic waste, such as computers and mobile phones, for safe disposal and recycling.

15 projects later…

A 001: Wait, look, Sean Paul is getting on stage with Bertrand! I’m so getting my selfie this time.


To be continued… And to end the day well, the agents leave you with Nature speaking through the voice of actrice Reese Witherspoon.

This post has been originally published here.