10 cool things you’ll find in Planet COP21
LE BOURGET, France – Once you board the hybrid buses to the venue of the United Nations 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), the ongoing climate change summit in Paris, you’ve entered a different world.
Planet COP21 is a land of recycled art installations and a labyrinth of wooden partitions. It’s self-sufficient, with cafes, money exchange stations, and even its own post office.
It is populated by the tens of thousands of negotiators, ministers, activists, and journalists here to take part in the creation of a global climate action pact.
Like a small city benefiting from urban planning, the denizens of Planet COP21 have their own designated areas, although most zones are open to all.
There’s a hall for media, country delegations, civil society groups, and auditoriums for plenary sessions.
WiFi is free for all with no password, and in most cases, the Internet speed is pretty fast.
Being a conference about the most pressing environmental crisis of our time, the summit is all about showcasing sustainable practices and eco-friendly objects.
And because this is a French-hosted event, a lot of these knick-knacks are by French companies and brands.
Here are 10 cool things you’ll find here:
1. Reusable coffee cups
No wasteful paper coffee cups for COP21 citizens! Your payment for your hot cappuccino or espresso shot includes a 1 euro (PHP 51.50, USD 1.09) deposit fee for a plastic cup. You get your deposit back when you return the cup which you can hold on to the entire day or even the entire week – or you can take it home as a souvenir.
2. Cardboard trash bins
This takes the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – to a whole new different level. The garbage cans themselves are made of recycled cardboard care of La Poste, a postal service company in France.
3. Water stations with matching personalized water bottles
The sprawling conference venue is dotted by water stations bringing clean mountain water to the participants. Sedif, the water utility agency of Greater Paris that put them there, also provided everyone with ergonomic water bottles you can write your name on. This eliminates the use of plastic or paper cups that often litter events.
4. Pedal power stations
There are normal power outlets in the media center and inside the exhibit booths and delegation offices, but those who want to get some exercise can take this much more fun option.
5. Recycled plastic art
Giant gem-colored animal cut-outs greet COP21 participants along the venue’s main corridor and in the delegation hall.
An art installation by artist Gad Weil, they are made of recyclable materials. According to the description, they are “alert launchers” to remind humanity about our responsibility to avert climate disaster. Climate change affects not only mankind but animals as well.
6. Free apples
When you get off the hybrid buses, the first thing you’ll see are wooden stalls by French retailer Carrefour full of apples. No breakfast? Just grab one!
7. Lounge chair district
Journalists and other participants can work in comfort in this area. Groups also tend to gather around the sofas for meetings.
8. Word-spelling water fountains
You’ll do a double-take when you pass by India’s pavilion because of this amazing water fountain. Various participating countries have set up booths and pavilions to showcase their climate change programs. Obviously some have pulled out all the stops.
9. Wind Tree
This other-worldly sight is one of the first things you see upon landing on Planet COP21. It’s a Wind Tree by wind energy company NewWind. The leaves in this tree are called “Aeroleafs.”
They are able to convert turbulent winds into clean energy enough to provide 83% of a French household’s electricity needs (excluding heading) or light 71 outdoor parking spaces.
And unlike the wind turbines most of us are familiar with, the Wind Tree does all this in complete silence.
10. Giant polar bear
Meet Aurora, the giant polar bear brought by advocacy group Greenpeace to COP21. Aurora is meant to remind participants that unabated climate change means more melting ice caps and thus a bleak future for these majestic creatures. (READ: 10 animals threatened by climate change)