American In Paris For COP21: On Terror & Hope

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Dinner (

Views of the UN COP21 climate meeting in Paris from correspondent Jessica Langerman, with Sandy Dechert.

“How is it?” asks my friend, non-government organization volunteer Peter Joseph, of the young French waiter who has just taken our dinner order. Peter and I are both reeling with jet lag after long flights from the US to Paris to attend the COP21 climate conference. His question, asked out of context and with no explanation to the waiter or the rest of our group, makes little sense to me.

The waiter, however, seems to understand perfectly. “Strange,” he responds.

This is not the response we expected. “Strange, how?” probes Peter.

Memorial gathering at Ba' ta clan (Felix Kramer for
Memorial gathering at Ba’ ta clan (Felix Kramer for

“Strange for my generation because these [terrorists] are the people with whom we grew up, with whom we went to school. Strange because we think of them as… us, as being French.”

Paris terrorism memorial posts (Felix Kramer for
Paris terrorism memorial posts (Felix Kramer for

We are silenced, and a little afraid to ask more. Here we are in Paris, surely one of the most spectacular cities on earth, seated at a beautiful restaurant on the Ile de la Cite only two weeks after the savagery of November 13.

Here is our menu, the lovely wine, friends we haven’t seen in months. All of us dining here tonight have been working furiously across the US for years on carbon pricing initiatives. A hurried and subdued toast begins.

Then Peter says, “This isn’t the right way to make a toast. You don’t look at your glass. You clink another person’s glass and look that person in the eye as you make your toast.”

He demonstrates, smiling directly into the eyes of the friend across from him as their glasses touch. I follow suit, individually toasting each person at the table, holding their gaze for a moment.

It feels like a prayer.

Celebratory toast (from pop, we begin talking about the COP21 climate talks, due to begin on Monday. This morning, our friend Joe Robertson, Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s Global Strategy Director, arrived from Minneapolis, plainly exhausted but cheerful, optimistic, and already hard at work. Tomorrow, after over a year of intense preparation and hard work, he will sit at the first meeting of the new Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition. To you, Joe! And to all the other negotiators at the COP21 talks–success!

Jessica Langerman is a freelance writer with a masters in education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. With energy economist Cathy Carruthers, Jessica commissioned a seminal econometric study analyzing the impact of environmental tax reform in Massachusetts. Subsequently, she organized, founded, and assembled the board for Climate XChange.

Stay with us here at Important Media for diverse stories and commentary from our team of experts and correspondents, great original photos, video, important links, and predictions throughout COP21. Today and Tuesday: Unprecedented participation by the world’s heads of state. And please remember: your thoughts and comments are always welcome! 

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2 thoughts on “American In Paris For COP21: On Terror & Hope

  • A CAGR of 26% for solar over the next 10 years = 10x today’s production. That should be the absolute minimum.

    • Yes solar is our biggest energy source, but we need to use all RE, wind wave, tidal, hydro, geo thermal, biomass etc.

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