14 people fighting for the planet at COP21 — and what they want

By Camilla Andersen and Melody Schreiber

Read the rest of our COP21 coverage in our Special Report, Climate of Hope

LE BOURGET, France — More than 45,000 people are attending COP21 in Paris this week — from top government leaders to NGOs to environmental researchers. Though this is the 21st meeting of its kind, this year the model of the conference is new. Rather than the UN leadership telling countries what they should do, it has asked countries to submit plans called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

In other words, the leadership is asking countries what they want to achieve for the climate. So what do attendees at COP21 want to achieve?

1) Sam Cossar—International liaison officer at Friends of the Earth — Australia

“I would like to see binding and ambitious mitigation targets. And also a really clear path to phasing out fossil fuels. I think it is unlikely. But I think it could be a stepping stone on the way.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

2) Casey Camp-Horinek — Activist and Drumkeeper for Ponca Nation — Oklahoma

“From this year’s COP, the one big thing that we are hoping for as indigenous people is that the entire world begins to have a viewpoint as the indigenous people do. All things are connected, all things are related. If we want to sustain human life on earth, we must care for her first. Do I think it will happen? 100 percent, or I wouldn’t be here.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

3) Kayly Ober—PhD researcher — Washington, DC

“I would really like it if we could actually have a firm climate commitment when it comes to mitigation. An agreement made by all the major players — the US, China, everyone included, where we actually set a target and goal, and it’s enforceable. That would be the best possible outcome out of COP. Although, seemingly, hard to reach.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

4) Rose Elu, ‎Indigenous service delivery advisor at Relationships Australia — Torres Strait Islands, Australia

“Action. Global warming is affecting all nations of the world. I would like to see more awareness. The cries of our people and the needs of different nations, including mine.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

5) Mahua Acharya (L) —Assistant director general, Global Green Growth Initiative—India and 6) Kathrin Gräble (R)—Attorney—Germany

Mahua:“International commitment to address climate meaningfully. Meaningfully is debatable, but international commitment? Yes, I think it can happen.” Kathrin: “Developed countries are going to support developing countries financially.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

7) Bert Wander — Media campaigner, Avaaz — United Kingdom

“There’s an enormous sense of possibility around this. We can come together and do this. We have the technology, we understand the problem. We have to overcome toxic politics. It could be a moment in history when the world got serious about climate change.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

8) Lolan Eriksson—Ministry of Transport and Communications—Finland

“We need a very ambitious result from this COP. We are coming from the Nordic countries, so we know also that we should shoulder our responsibility towards those who don’t have so good situation as we have. We need solidarity. It’s good to set the target, but then we need to fill it. We’ll try to do our best.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

9) Maria Luesa Munduruku and 10) Rozeninho Saw Munduruku—Representatives of the Munduruku tribe—the Amazon, Brazil

Maria: “I expect some protection for traditional people’s lands and lives. We know that often the UN is acting in the interests of big government and interests. But I hope that it happens.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

11) Francois Paulette —Chief of Dene Nation — Canada

“The world patronizes indigenous people. But Mother Earth and indigenous people are one. You can’t separate us. They must put in the agreement the words “indigenous rights.” We understand nature more than any nation in the world. These sons of bitches — these leaders — how many billions will they spend at conferences like these, protecting leaders? If they could take that money and put it into Mother Earth, she would be saved. They have fear — fear that they will lose money, industries, control. That’s the only thing stopping them.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

12) Tashka Yawanawa—Chief of the Yawanawa tribe—the Amazon, Brazil

“We want governments and companies to have more social responsibility. For example, Volkswagen — they lied to the people. I think it will happen: companies will be pressured by the people, who will not buy their products if they don’t change.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

13) Yannick Monerat — Engineer and DJ, Solar Sound System — Switzerland

“Stop using cars and planes. Just cycle. The capital system we have doesn’t want that. They have the power. But people have to wake up. They have been brainwashed.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)

14) Maud Barcelo—Law student at the Sorbonne and volunteer at the Indigenous Pavilion—Paris,France

“In Paris, stop using cars and start using public transportation. Traffic is so dense, it’s really a problem with pollution. And install compost bins around every trash can.” (Camilla Andersen/GroundTruth)