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Zero Waste France on its Way to COP21

by Joan Marc Simon

France is preparing to host the 21st session of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), a.k.a. the COP21, and so is Zero Waste France.

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The COP21 will take place in Paris from November 30th to December 11th, and the French government will be in charge to facilitate this high-level international negotiation to bring governments to agree on a plan of action to tackle climate change; not an easy job, but certainly one that can’t be postponed, given the urgency to mitigate climate change and support vulnerable  countries and communities that are already suffering the consequences of climate change on the ground.

In this context, Zero Waste France is taking the chance to put waste issues in the climate change agenda and underline the important linkages between these two fronts of action. The team has published a monthly newsletter with a thematic focus on climate change and waste, a brief for MPs is on its way out, and since last week, it has started a series of training for communities and general public.

Delphine Lévi Alvarès, in charge of  Zero Waste France’s Institutional Relations said “Climate change and waste have been treated conceptually as two separate issues within environmental thinking, but in practice they are closely linked. We believe that it is essential for citizens and policymakers to understand better these linkages and the COP21 is an excellent opportunity to work in that direction ”.

Last 25th April 2015, three members of the Zero Waste France team, Delphine, Manon and Anna travelled to Lyon to provide training on Waste and Climate to a newly formed local Zero Waste group.

The aim of this training was to show the impacts of waste management on the climate and how zero waste strategies can help reducing GHG emissions and build a resource-efficient society to stop climate change. In a more practical sense, the training provided communities with tools to reduce waste while fighting climate change.

The training was attended by sixteen members of Zero Waste France Lyon. First, they were given a general explanation on the impact of waste management on climate change, particularly looking at waste disposal options (waste incineration, landfill and related transport), over-consumption and food and product waste. The potential of Zero Waste strategies to reduce  GHG emissions was also underlined. After breaking up in small groups, participants worked on the climate impacts of a product (a mobile phone, a plastic bottle, amongst others) and followed up with a planning session of actions to be carried out in Lyon.

Some of the participants expressed: “It’s very interesting to picture the lifecycle of everyday items” and “There is a lot to be done, it’s a huge responsibility but the COP will be a good opportunity to change things”.

The Zero Waste France team were very happy with this first experience and are planning to repeat this Waste and Climate training in May near Paris and Nantes.

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