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5 climate conversations our COY16 representative wants to discuss this week

We’re excited and proud that our graduate carbon management consultant, Helene Piellard, will be representing Sweco UK, and her home country France, as a delegate at this year’s 16th United Nations Climate Conference of Youth (COY16), which will be held from 28th-31st October.

We asked Helene to share the climate conversations she is most looking forward to when she attends this landmark event, and what she hopes will be at the top of the agenda for world leaders at COP26 itself.

1. Mobility and Transport

Fuel-based vehicles are one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions in the world. At COY16  I hope to discuss the place of electric vehicles and most importantly, the development of active travel schemes to reduce transport emissions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised serious questions regarding travel and has been the precursor of a new image of commuting. We have learnt new ways to work and live every day and should use these lessons to transform our habits. Increasing the accessibility to active travel and public transport over individual cars, and incentivising the reduction of travel by keeping remote working as a new standard when possible, should be key topics in the discussions.

Working at Sweco, I know I have the opportunity to influence transport and mobility, providing support to minimise carbon emissions and promote active travel schemes…and I hope the discussions from COY will allow me to influence this area further.

2. Climate Finance

Finance is a very important asset in the climate crisis we face, but represents a complex issue. I look forward to learning more about the interlinked stakes of this topic speaking with expert delegates in this field, and especially how de-carbonisation investment plans could be settled through political mandates.

I really hope that the outcome of our discussions will move us towards an engagement of each country present at COP26 to mobilise realistic budgets to propel the transition. It goes without saying that transforming our society and economy will require a restructuring of the industry as we know today – but these changes will only be possible if a great financial effort is provided through a collective mobilisation of public and private organisations.

This step change would also unlock many great projects to de-carbonise the Building and Infrastructure sectors through the use of low-carbon materials or construction methods, for example.

3. Food and Agriculture

Emissions from agriculture have been a neglected topic in many debates, despite its huge part in the Climate Crisis. It is also a subject that concerns everyone, and has many impacts beyond Climate Change alone.

I am therefore looking forward to discussing which solutions need to be taken forward to tackle carbon emissions and mitigate other environmental impacts. My own view is that many actions can easily be taken by customers who have a great power, through their choices, to influence industries (e.g. reducing meat consumption, prioritise local products, etc.). Workshops conducted during COY16 (regarding youth mobilisation for example) will hopefully provide proper tools to promote these actions to a wider spectrum of people.

workshops conducted during COY16 (regarding youth mobilisation for example) will hopefully give proper tools to promote these actions to a wider spectrum of people.

4. La France!

Il est temps d’agir – It’s time to act! As a delegate representing France at COY16, I am looking forward to discussing the France 2030 Investment Plan that President Macron presented on the 12th October, and especially the declarations regarding de-carbonising Industry and the production of electric vehicles.

The key words of the President in his speech were “produce more”, whereas in my opinion it should rather be “less and better”. We need more ambitious plans, transparency and solid proof that the actions put in place will be sufficient to reach national targets.

I hope to push forward Europe’s responsibility to become a leader in tackling climate change and encouraging other countries to do so. The United Kingdom and especially Scotland are today showing great leadership that needs to be imitated widely.

5. Our last best chance to #UnifyForChange

More generally, I am optimistic that the collaborative work of all delegates at COY16 will lead to a drastic change in the strategies discussed and adopted by the 197 countries attending COP26; that ‘empty promises’ will be replaced by concrete and written commitments, and that science-based targets will be discussed and approved as milestones as we work together to significantly reduce emissions from all scopes.

COP26 is supposed to be a turning point in the fight against climate change and it’s time to #UnifyForChange in meaningful ways, beyond COY16 and COP26.

Find out more about COY16 here, or visit our COP26 hub to learn about the main UN Climate Change Conference.


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