Paris in New York—on Earth Day!

Gertrude Clement, 16, addresses the UN

Gertrude Clement, youth representative, addresses the Opening Ceremony of the High-Level Event for the Signature of the Paris Agreement

This morning at the UN, the Parties (175 of them) reconvened for the formal signing of the Paris agreement. It really took me back to the bedazzled excitement we all felt at the end of COP21. I have to say, here in the same old place with all the usual stuff to do, it hasn’t been easy to hold on to that feeling.

For those of you who may not be game to watch the whole 2 1/4 hours of the ceremony and speeches, here are my favorite highlights:

Throughout the ceremony, Ban put the world’s youth front and center. The young woman at left, 16-year old Gertrude Clement from Tanzania, spoke first, and introduced the Secretary-General for his framing remarks.

At 2:02:40 in the video above, Ban introduces 197 excited 9- or 10-year olds into the hall, to remind the assembly of what’s at stake. A  brass quintet from Julliard plays a wonderfully intricate arrangement of “Simple Gifts.” Civil_society

If you only see one presentation, I recommend watching the best-dressed person in the room, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim from Chad, representing civil society. She makes it painfully clear why we are all working so hard to move away from fossil fuels as fast as we can.

If you watch two, Leonardo DiCaprio probably gave the best speech. He is an official UN Messenger of Peace. Apparently his Oscars speech was just a warmup.

The award for Deliverer of the Best News goes to Zhang Gaoli of China, making it clear that if the US doesn’t get its act together in a hurry, China is going to make a bigger difference, sooner, than we will!

Justin Trudeau didn’t talk about the Albertan tar sands, but maybe “value destruction” (see my earlier post) is making that problem moot. What a difference an election makes.

John Kerry signs with his grandchild on his lapAnd last but never least, I do recommend listening to John Kerry, who signed for the U.S. with his two-year-old granddaughter on his lap, and Ban Ki-Moon.

We’d better make every day Earth Day until we know for sure those fossil fuels aren’t coming out of the ground!



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