Biking to the EYE in Strasbourg! (and back)

WHAT WE DO

To answer the most frequently asked questions about my bike journey to Strasbourg: The way towards Strasbourg, around 630 kilometers took me 8 days. Back, around 610 kilometers took me 7 days. My bike was a 15-year old Koga, which I bought second hand for 290 euros. I had my tent and a backpack with me which weighed 13 kg. My set of tires survived through sand roads. I had to change my brakes in Luxembourg after the hills in the Ardennes. I only slept in my tent twice, a hotel once and outside under the stars once. All other nights I slept at friends’ places or hosts I met through www.warmshowers.org.

So you can go on now with what you were doing, or read on and learn more about how I got inspired, the many kind people I met on my way, learn some biker’s wisdom and lots of things that struck me during the journey.

Inspiration to take the bike

Within the You(th) for Climate Ambition delegation, we challenged one another to take the most sustainable ways of transport, since transport could potentially increase the carbon footprint of this trip drastically. Cycling 1km by bike saves 250g of CO2 compared to 1km in a car (European Cyclist Federation). Thus, after inspiring talks with other long-distance bikers at Suderbyn Ecovillage, in particular, Maarten, who has biked from the Netherlands to Singapore, I decided to take a bike to the European Youth Event.

The support

The first kind people I met were members of my own delegation. I met with Rachel, Zanna, and Julie in Brussels after the first 70 kilometers for a lovely dinner at Rachel’s place. Next up was Perwez, where I met André and Lucienne who were willing to host me spontaneously. This was also my first test in speaking French at the dinner table, something I can say I managed pas très mal, en effet. They helped me with to choose a nice route along the RAVeL-network. After some serious ups and downs(hills) in Durbuy, Roche en Ardenne and Martelange my brakes were quite worn out. Consequently, at my first warmshowers host Duarte, my bike got new brakes and I got a lovely dinner with the family.

Biker’s wisdom

“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” This wisdom was shared with me at my second warmshowers host in Luxembourg. Paul and Vanessa, the proud parents of a contestant in the world championship cycling for youngsters, helped me prepare my route for the next day to Saarbrücken. Along the river Saar, the road was all flat and free from holes. A long but smooth ride and honestly, I kind of missed the excitement of going up and downhill. After arriving in Saarbrücken I still had two days left to get to Strasbourg so planned to take it easy in order to be well rested for the European Youth Event to represent Ecolise and NextGEN-Europe.

Observations

During my journey I wrote down some notes of things that struck me, here are four of my observations:

  • There is too much plastic and other rubbish on the sides of the roads. Although more and more people are beginning to embrace the concept of zero waste, the side of the roads really is proof that there is still a lot to be done.
  • Too many die too young in road accidents. Every bunch of flowers or picture of a young man or woman along the roads was one too many.
  • In all the five countries I passed, Jesus has a place of honor in every corner of every little village. It reminds me of the great deeds one person can do and the tribute of this 2000 years later.
  • There are at least one or two households in each village that understand putting solar panels on your roof is a sustainable way of generating electricity. And more and more wind turbines are popping up.

General info:

From Hulst to Brussels 70 km, Brussels to Perwez 55 km, Perwez over Namur and Huy to Durbuy: 94 km, Durbuy to Bertogne 45 km, Bertogne to Ell 53 km, Ell to Waldbredimus 60 km, Waldbredimus over Saarburg to Saarbrücken 111 km, Saarbrücken to Rimsdorf: 52 km, Rimsdorf to Saverne: 38 km, Saverne to Strasbourg: 49 km. Strasbourg to Rimsdorf: 86 km, Rimsdorf to Waldbredimus: 130 km, Waldbredimus to St. Vith: 110 km, St. Vith to Liege: 90 km, Liege to Perwez: 70 km, Perwez to Brussels: 55 km, Brussels to Hulst: 65 km.

In total: 1233 km biked = 308,25 kilogram CO2 saved, compared with going by car.

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Description with pictures: With a 15 years old second hand bike, an outdoor basic survival kit and no clear plan, I set off for Strasbourg. In Brussels, I conquered the rain with this awesome red poncho. Being a lonely activist in the streets of Brussels: Make #ParisAgreement into REALITY. With my lovely hosts André and Lucienne in their beautiful garden in Perwez. My night under the stars in the Ardennes. The famous one-day classic race La Doyenne, “The Old Lady” Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I met with my sister in Durbuy. Together with Duarte and Annique, my first warmshowers hosts before my departure on a Sunday morning. Selfie with Paul and lovely dog Mabel. In Saarbrücken with Herbert, a retired physics professor, and my ws-host. Another ws-host couple and former teachers Marc and Hélène. My tent in their garden. Freshly arrived at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

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My bike with luggage in Strasbourg center. Being a tourist in the Cathedral, a nice view during a break. Biker wisdom in Luxembourg. Hanging out with Doudou, the cat of Marc and Helene. Street Art. Hanging out with one of the four cats of Elisabeth. Fun with the statue Mannenken Pis in Brussels. Peeking at the “open window” with Bruegel, a symbol for the Renaissance Humanists’ open view of the world.

 

 

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[BLOG] Climate Migrants – the new Refugee Crisis

WHAT WE DO

During the past years, Europe has faced a refugee crisis. A great amount of people had to flee their home country elsewhere due to war, violence or persecution. Even though people are displaced every day, Europe wasn’t prepared for the mass of people seeking help in the area. After Europe’s initial shock, it has now somewhat recovered. However, persons still have to flee their home country every day. On top of that, another “refugee” crisis could be on its way, and what Europe should have learned from the past years is that it needs to be ready to help those who are in need of it. What “refugee” crisis could be the next major change? The answer is climate migrants, or “persons displaced in the context of climate change”.

So, what’s the definition of a climate migrant? Climate migrants are people who must flee their homes because of climate change such as higher sea levels and warmer temperatures. They are a sub-group to environmental migrants, which are people who are forced to flee because of natural disasters. Environmental migrants are not internationally recognized as refugees. This means that they face greater political risks than other persons fleeing their home because of war or persecution do*. Actually, most countries don’t take climate change, global warming or natural disasters into account when granting asylum. The only exception is Finland and Sweden, where environmental migrants are sometimes included in official policies as “persons otherwise in need of protection”*.

The most recent period of climate change is global warming, and it forces people to flee. The human population contributes to global warming by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, for example. These activities release greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere*. Global warming can change weather patterns, increase droughts and storms, melt glaciers, increase sea levels, and change the behaviour of animals and plants*. It is difficult to estimate how many people have fled because of climate change and global warming. The most widely cited estimate is that by 2050, there will be around 200 million environmental migrants in the world*.

There are several areas in the world where it is becoming more and more difficult to live because of climate change. For example, sea level rise makes it difficult for people living in Bangladesh and in Maldives. It is predicted that Bangladesh will lose 17 % of its land by 2050, which could lead to as many as 20 million climate migrants. As for Maldives, tourism support about a quarter of the economy, but sea level rise makes it more and more difficult to support tourists and tourist facilities. Other cities that are vulnerable to sea level rise are Manhattan, New York; London, England; Mumbai, India; and Buenos Aires, Argentina; to name a few.

Another result of climate-change which causes people to flee is drought. For example, the Gobi desert in China is expanding fast, causing farmers and merchants to migrate to China’s crowded urban areas. Also, rural residents in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea engage in subsistence agriculture, meaning farmers producing enough crops only for their families and communities. They are threatened by starvation and poverty because of drought, resulting in overcrowded refugee camps in Kenya*.

Who might be receiving climate migrants in the future? At the moment, most climate migrants are internal migrants, and most countries facing extreme consequences because of climate change are developing countries. This is problematic, since developing countries are especially vulnerable to climate change and global warming and don’t have the ability to adapt to their new reality*. However, one can assume that if we don’t succeed with the Paris Agreement, countries least likely to be affected by climate change will receive a lot of climate migrants. These areas are Europe and North America (keeping in mind that there are state-, regional- and city-specific differences)*.

Climate migrants will most likely affect global politics in the near future. The world will face a wave of migrants and countries must be prepared. As already mentioned, climate migrants aren’t internationally recognized and one way to prepare is for countries to take climate change, global warming and natural disasters into account when granting asylum. Moreover, developed countries should take responsibility in finding climate change solutions. Finally, we need to work across national borders to share knowledge and resources. We are all affected by climate change and must include climate migrants in international co-operation.  


Laura Fagerlund

Laura Fagerlund

[BLOG] Finalizing the implementation of the Paris Agreement: a long and tenuous road

CONTRIBUTIONS, WHAT WE DO
article SofiaParties and observers meet for SB48 in Bonn, Germany

 

From April 30th until May 11th in Bonn, Germany was held the 48th sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).

What is it?

Every year, Parties to the UNFCCC meet to discuss international climate policy, what is known as COPs (Conference of Parties). Between each COP, Parties meet to advance technical matters and prepare negotiation texts during what are commonly called intersessionals. The last session was the 48th session (SB48) and aimed at advancing the elaboration of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), that is the guidelines which will enable the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the national level.

As a member of the think-and-do-tank CliMates, which is recognized as an observer organization to the UNFCCC, I had the chance to attend this conference during the second week of negotiations. It was the second time I attended international climate negotiations and as last time, I was excited to take part in this important gathering of world negotiators and observer organizations representatives.

What happened?

My expectations were high for this negotiations. Indeed, those were crucial for the elaboration of the PAWP which is supposed to be finalized and adopted at COP24, which will be held in Katowice, Poland in December 2018. Considering the amount of items that remain to be discussed, this conference was an important step towards the finalization of the implementation guidelines. Overall, the work on the PAWP moved forward by way of 21 different workstreams, and all of them made some, albeit small, progress. Unfortunately, negotiations went slower than expected and led to the decision of organizing an exceptional second intersessional which will take place in Bangkok in September 2018, a few month before COP24.

However, some of the work done in Bonn deserves to be highlighted. During week 1 for instance, Parties met for the Suva Expert Dialogue on Loss & Damage (1), a matter of great concern for countries already impacted by climate change. Parties also discussed the operational modalities of the newly adopted Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (2), as well as the Gender Action Plan (3) and the Global Stocktake (4). Finally, the SB48 was the occasion to reflect on the first session of the Talanoa Dialogue  (5) which took place a few days before the beginning of the intersessions.

 

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Joséphine Raynauld and myself speaking on behalf of YOUNGO, during the meeting of observer organization with Mrs. Executive Secretary Patricia Espinoza

 

Which place for civil society?

Civil society, including youth, was very active and organized several side-events and actions on, among other things, health and climate change, conflict of interest in international climate negotiations and short-term pollutants. Overall, being an observer at UNFCCC conferences is both frustrating (seeing many closed session, including those on transparency) and stimulating as we can perceive the will and energy of observers, including young people to trigger climate action and ambition. Indeed, UNFCCC processes are one of the few in which young people are given a voice and opportunity to take part in the debate, with other observer constituencies, such as business, researchers and women and gender.

1.  The Suva Expert Dialogue is an important step towards furthering collective understanding of approaches to address Loss & Damage, associated finance needs, and sources of support.
2. This platform aims at involving non-party stakeholders in UNFCCC process, including by sharing knowledge in the fight against climate change and its impacts.
3.The Gender Action Plan was adopted at COP23 with the goal to increase the participation of women in all UNFCCC processes.
4. The first Global Stocktake will take place in 2023 and will aim at taking stock of the progress made towards the achievement of the goal set under the Paris Agreement. The stocktake will take place every five years from 2023 and will help Parties know how much more remains to be done in order to limit global average temperature to 2°C.
5. The Talanoa Dialogue is the first Global Stocktake, albeit less ambitious. Its format aims at being participatory and inclusive and invites all parties to share their stories on climate change. The dialogue aims at addressing three questions: 1) Where are we? 2) Where do we want to go? 3) How do we get there? 

 


 

 

For more information on the takeaways of SB48 check this article by Climate Tracker.

Sofia

 

If you want to get involved in international climate negotiations, don’t hesitate to contact me at sofia.kabbej@climates.fr.

 

[TRAVEL] Lars is biking to Strasbourg for EYE2018 !

WHAT WE DO

This morning in Brussels, on Wednesday 23rd of May, Lars started his journey to reach Strasbourg by BIKE ! As a member of our delegation Youth for Climate Ambition, he chose to take his bike to join the European Youth Event 2018 in Strasbourg. He will travel for more than 500km and will cross 4 countries to reach his destination.

Concerned by the urgency of tackling climate change, Lars chose to reduce his carbon footprint and to use climate friendly transports for traveling to EYE2018.

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“From the 31stof May to the 2ndof June I will be representing community led initiatives on climate change and sustainability at the European Parliament! What? The third edition of the European Youth Event (EYE) is held and I am part of the You(th) for Climate Ambition Delegation! During the former two editions, thousands of young people came to Strasbourg to engage in discussions with European parliamentarians. In my mind I am already imagining what to talk about with the parliamentarians. But before that is a reality, I need to get to Strasbourg. To reduce my personal carbon footprint and challenge myself, I will take the bike from Brussels to Strasbourg!” Lars.