A Day in the Life

Reflections from Emilia Belliveau, BCCIC Youth Delegate to COP21

My apologies for the sporadic posting, it’s easy to get swept away in the side events, exhibitions, actions, plenaries, and press conferences – and end the day too tired to write. I’ll be posting more about Canada’s role in negotiations so far, a mid-COP check-in, and another list of odd observations soon. Until then, to justify my lack of consistent commentary, I’m going to describe my typical day attending COP21.

I wake up to construction on the street before the sun rises. I prep my morning coffee and sip it from one of Brigitte’s bowl sized mugs in the living room by a tall window. The view as I eat breakfast is iconic Parisian-style buildings packed tightly along the narrow street. Three flights of spiral staircase lead me down to the atrium of the apartment and I let myself onto the street through the heavy, embellished wood door. On my way to the metro I pass a patisserie, a tapas bar (the patio is often occupied even by 9am) and can see the highest spire of le Sacré-Coeur above the rooftops. I pass the empty Moulin Rouge each morning, and return to its brightly spinning mill lighting a busy square at night.


The commute to Le Bourget, the suburb of Paris where the conference site is located, takes 45 minutes to an hour (depending on if your travel with the rest of the COP21 crowd). It includes the metro, train, and a shuttle bus – all packed. People seem to be generally good-humoured about cozying up to their neighbour by the final shuttle though. Normally this is uneventful, but today I saw a camel from the train. A real camel! I’ve never seen a camel before. I’m still excited about it.

Each day I’ve tried to get a taste of something new at COP21. I do a mix of attending side events, press conferences, the Canadian stakeholder briefings, events in the pavilion spaces, and meeting interesting people just about anywhere. I usually watch a little of the text negotiations (from screens outside) and try to catch any civil society actions, too. There’s so much going on that it’s impossible to see it all. In the evening there’s usually a sponsored soiree in at least one of the exhibition spaces, and if you’re willing to schmooze you can get a drink (or many) to wind down your day. I’ve only attended one of these events so far and still feel very strange in that space – a mix between being a sheep in wolves’ clothes and an undercover agent examining every detail. But, because I don’t mind pretending I’m James Bond, and I like free wine, I will continue to practice ‘networking’.

I return home each night telling myself “tonight I will go out and enjoy the city…just after I drop off my work bag”. But once I’ve climbed that spiral staircase it’s proved impossible to convince myself back out the door. The weekend is close though, and I hear the Observer group throws a wicked party.

Stay tuned for some actual negotiations commentary and insight into the dynamics between civil society, industry, and government!


About Emilia Belliveau

Emilia Belliveau is master’s student at the University of Victoria in the School of Environmental Studies and an individual member of BCCIC. In December 2015, she will be travelling to Paris, France to take part in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. BCCIC as an organization holds observer status to this conference and will be sending Emilia as well as a BCCIC staff member to the negotiations.

Through the COP21 lead up, and during the conference itself, Emilia will be making regular blogposts which will be available both here at bccic.ca as well as on her personal blog space : https://emibelliveau.wordpress.com/

In her own words, Emilia introduces herself below:

Thank you for taking an interest in climate change and international negotiations.

If we have yet to have the pleasure of meeting, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Emilia Belliveau and I’m currently a master’s student at the University of Victoria in the School of Environmental Studies. I’m interested in social justice, feminism, environmentalism, and politics – so I make an all around great party guest! I recently moved to the west coast from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and am enjoying getting to know this side of the continent.

I’ll be using this platform to share my experiences as I attend the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Paris. I have been nominated by the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) as an ‘observer’ delegate, which simply means I’ll be let in to watch the action unfold. This blog will report on both negotiation developments and my personal observations about the conference. I’m grateful for the nomination of BCCIC that has granted me access to this flashpoint in political ecology. It’s important to clarify that the views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the position of BCCIC or its affiliates.

If curiosity has brought you here – please check in often! I’ll be posting in the lead up to COP21 more about these negotiations (including background info, definitions and resources), their role in addressing climate change, the importance of a ‘treaty year’, the work of BCCIC, and other groups shedding light on Canada’s international action.

I’ll also be sharing the full story of my journey to COP21 and why attending these negotiations is so important to me.

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