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Day 1 at COP20: Opening Plenary Session

December 2, 2014


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Minister Marcin Korolec, President of COP19/CMP9

Siang Yu, Melissa and Juliana had the amazing opportunity to attend the opening plenary session for COP20 earlier this morning. The opening speech was given by Minister Marcin Korolec, President of the COP19/CMP9, who then passed the floor to the current COP20 President, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who is also the Minister of Environment for Peru.

COP20 President: Mr Manuel Pulgar-Vidal

Minister Pulgar-Vidal highlighted the increasing severity of climate change and hoped for “a COP of dialogue” that is more inclusive for all groups. He also mentioned the implementation of Lima Climate Action Day this December, with hopes that this will further raise awareness and encourage individuals to be more active in the fight against climate change.
Miss Christina Figueres giving her opening speech in Spanish.

Miss Christina Figueres giving her opening speech in Spanish.

Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Miss Christina Figueres was the next speaker, who referenced the mysterious Nazca Lines in Peru to the battle against climate change. She mentioned that countries must all establish goals as creative as the Nazca Lines, citing 3 prominent figures of the Nazca lines and how these related to climate change:
1) Monkey: represents creativity. Creativity is necessary for the creation of ideas and solutions in the battle against climate change.
2) Hummingbird: represents new perspectives and common grounds. These two aspects are necessary especially in the lead up to COP21, where there is great hope on more countries signing the Paris Protocol compared to the current signatories of the Kyoto Protocol.
3) Condor: the complex lines of the Condor signifies countries challenging each other to achieve their goals, and to set even higher potential targets for themselves to meet.
Miss Figueres also noted that mitigation and adaptation should also be on the same level, as both aspects are equally important and success cannot be achieved with just either mitigation or adaptation.
The fourth speaker was the Mayor of Lima, Miss Susana Villarán, who acknowledged the equal impacts of climate change with the poorest community usually the most vulnerable group in many cities around the world. She expressed the vital role that cities play in creating sustainable environments with an emphasis on green infrastructure for the urban environment.
Following a short speech by the President of Peru, Mr Ollanta Humala, there was an interesting cultural performance that gave the audience a snippet of Peruvian culture. It was a colourful affair with lots of singing and dancing, which I believe everyone enjoyed thoroughly. Mr Ayanta Pachauri was the final speaker of the opening session. He briefly explained key points from the 5th IPCC assessment, noting that oceans absorb the most heat and studies should focus on oceans as well, especially with increasingly more related climate change challenges such as sea level rise. He highlighted the need for countries to move away from business as usual (BAU) mindsets regardless of mitigation plans in order to better improve the state of our Earth.

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