Sixth Day at COP21

Saturday 5th December 2015

After giving the most of himself at #ActionDay today at #COP21, Agent 001 goes back to his hotel, orders a well-deserved Vesper Martini, and opens his personal mail. He’s got a message from an old friend, asking how he’s doing and complaining that he hasn’t given news in ages. Feeling a bit guilty about going AWOL, he decides to answer on the spot.

Dear Anna,

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote but you can’t imagine the crazy work load we have here in Paris at the moment. I won’t complain though, it’s great being at the heart of the COP21 negotiations and feeling that we’re making a difference. You can’t imagine the number of positive reactions to Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg’s messages! Like this tweet from UNEP for example today:

And I think I’ve never met so many political and economic leaders in my life. This morning we attended the executive secretary’s dialogue, which was chaired by Al Gore.

I took some notes on his speech: “The signal sent by COP21 has to be understood very clearly. We must change. Look at what just happened in India.” I guess you followed the news concerning the flooding there? There’s no proof that climate change is really the cause of the heaviest rains in a century India suffered, but what’s certain is that it won’t improve the situation. At least 280 people killed, can you imagine… Ah but let’s not drag our spirits down, it’s not by guilting and depressing people that we’ll solve the problem!

Getting back to well-known people, we ran into Chinese businessman Jack Ma, who founded the famous e-commerce company Alibaba.

And then into Laurent Fabius tonight at the closing ceremony of Action Day. I was dreaming of a picture with Leonardo Dicaprio as well, but that was tough one. I’m sure you would’ve prefered that ;)

I’ve been working at Solar Impulse for 5 years now, but following the two pilots around everywhere at COP21 still managed to teach me a couple of things. That’s a cool side of the solar agent job. For instance, during his Facebook live, André started to describe a world with unmanned airplanes. In his vision of things, there would be something like pipes in the sky, allowing these aircrafts to fly in a coordinated way, a bit like the fiber optics that allow us to communicate. Doesn’t that sound crazy to you?

Then someone asked him when solar airplanes would be available for the public, and he estimated about 30-40 years, but reminded everyone that 97% of the CO2 is created by our activities on the ground, and only 3% by those in the sky. Meaning that it’s way more important to use Solar Impulse technologies on Earth to tackle climate change. I hadn’t realised that the percentage of pollution produced in the sky was so low.

And there was another interesting question that I’ve often asked myself: can a computer judge better that a pilote? To which André answered that computers don’t make mistakes so they’re the best choice for repetitive and well-organised tasks. But when you’re suddenly in an unforeseen situation, computers are not yet able to judge what needs to be done. He nevertheless believes that in 20-30 years they will be, thanks to artificial intelligence. I’m really eager to see what the world will look like in 30 years, when we’ll both be old!

Anyway, here’s André’s full video if you want to check it out:

As for Bertrand, he really enjoyed his live, and kept smiling and thanking everyone. His enthusiasm is so motivating!

I found his point of view on COP21 very to the point to explain to those who aren’t here what’s going on between these four walls. According to him, the problem is that the negotiators are in one world, while the rest of the participants, who are speaking together, developing solutions, and brainstorming, are in another world. And what Bertrand wants to do is to insufflate the positivity and hope of the participants to the negotiators so that they can agree on a legal framework for energy efficiency. I mean, have you ever wondered why we have legal frameworks for health, hygiene, education, justice, taxes, security, but not for energy efficiency? Doesn’t it seem completely absurd?

Here, take a look at Bertrand’s happy face :)


Oh, and here’s another inspiring video (sorry, I’m sending you so much media, but it was Action Day after all!). Bertrand was on stage during the main session of Action Day, alongside business leaders and politicians, to speak in the name of the 333 organizations we brought together with our Future is Clean initiative to promote clean technologies (yes I’m giving you the link because I know you haven’t signed up yet :p). He urged everyone to talk about and develop solutions, to turn Action Day into Action Week, Action Year and Action Century. I don’t know if he came up with that on the spur of the moment but I think it would make a good slogan.


Between two speeches, I checked all the social media (you know what a geek I am) to see what was going on elsewhere and found something pretty neat. The UNFCCC compiled a list of 2015 funding programs from public sources into an interactive timeline: You realize that quite a lot of cash is being pumped into sustainable projects! Even if it’s still not enough compared to the subsidies given to fossil fuels.

And then I fell on the message from the International Space Station to negotiators at COP21. I was extremely surprised to see that there had only been 101 views as I was watching it. Especially considering how moving it was. When you see all those images of Earth from space, and how beautiful our planet is, it really makes you want to protect it even more. Here it is, you’ll tell me what you thought of it:


And don’t hesitate to share it, it deserves so many more views!

Write back soon to let me know how you’re doing and see if we can meet up over the holidays!

Agent 001

This blog post has been originally posted here.