“A challenge that remains is to motivate the many participants of conferences and meetings to reduce their own carbon footprint, especially from travel.”
So reads the UNFCCC secretariat’s sustainability efforts web page. Some individuals took this challenge into their own hands (or rather, feet) and are pursuing unconventional travel routes to Paris.
First, there are the walkers. Yeb Saño, former Philippine Climate Change Commissioner, falls into this category. Saño is weeks into his 60-day, 930-mile expedition on foot, from Rome to Paris. Saño leads a group known as The People’s Pilgrimage, a group of multi-faith individuals walking to COP21, “carrying with them the hopes and prayers of millions for a better future, safe from climate change.”
Next, we have the runners and cyclists. A recent Huffington Post article highlighted Pole to Paris, a group running and cycling from the Arctic to COP21. Young scientists travel this route as a public awareness campaign for COP21, seeking to “bridge the gap between science and society.”
Finally, more cyclists! Climate Journey is “a storytelling expedition from New England to Paris for COP21.” The two cyclists, who will be youth delegates at COP21, are gathering local stories about climate change en route. Bike for a Future is another public awareness campaign bicycle ride from Vietnam to France.
Meanwhile, 95 percent of the UNFCCC secretariat’s total carbon footprint comes from air travel. At COP20, the secretariat purchased Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to offset greenhouse gas emissions from UNFCCC staff and funded participants travel to Lima. COP21’s web page says the Conference’s €187 million budget will include funding for a “limited and offset carbon footprint.” Walkers, runners, and cyclists alike have already embarked on low-carbon voyages to Paris, catalyzing momentum for the upcoming climate change negotiations.