Evaluation and conclusion:
The evaluation of the success of our Climate Train project will be presented in three distinct ways. Firstly the project will be examined in relation to the specific aims presented in publicity and funding applications before the journey began. Secondly there is a compilation of some quotes from participants collected in the questionaires returned after the journey. These include impressions not only of the Climate Train journey but also of the Climate Convention of which our project was part. Thirdly there is a more general conclusion which asks the question: did we really help to "Save the Climate"? It is important to note that this final chapter is not intended to stand alone, it is only a summary of the many aspects of the project which have already been discussed in detail in previous chapters.
Did we meet the specific aims of the Climate Train?
In the funding application to the European Commission four specific aims of the "Climate Train" project were given. Each of these objectives will be taken in turn to provide a focus for evaluation.
Objective 1: To enable people concerned about climate change to participate in the Climate Convention in Kyoto, whilst minimising the contribution of our travel to the problem we are trying to solve - principally emissions of greenhouse gases.
Dietrich Brockhagen analysed and compared the global warming effect of greenhouse gas emissions produced by a journey from Europe to Kyoto by land and sea, rather than by air. This analysis has been presented in the chapter "Ecobalance of the Climate Train" and demonstrated that for each participant travelling by land produced approximately one eighth of the greenhouse warming effect compared with a similar journey by air.
This report clearly shows that the group was comprised of individuals concerned about climate change (see the List of Participants and their backgrounds and reasons for joining the project). Many of the participants are full-time scientific researchers or environmental campaigners in this field, and the group also included local government representatives from remote regions which are rarely able to participate in the international climate negotiations. Funding from the European Commission and other grants and donations was particularly vital in enabling participants from Central and Eastern Europe and China to travel to Kyoto who would otherwise have been unable to afford the to make the journey.
Our group influenced the negotiations at COP3 in Kyoto in many diverse ways -lobbying and arranging special events and presentations inside the Convention, and also organising actions and media events outside the Convention and in Kyoto city. These are described in the chapter "Climate Train Contribution to COP3.
Objective 2: To encourage a discussion of local issues related to global change at our conferences on the route in Moscow, Novosibirsk and Beijing. Siberia and China play important roles in global climate change, but since climate issues do not yet have a high profile in these regions in comparison with western Europe or Japan, it is important to raise awareness locally of the possible impacts and opportunities for mitigation.
Our Climate Train project also provided the focus for several Climate Conferences along our route, in Moscow, Novosibirsk and Bejing as well as smaller meetings with local environmental organisations in Berlin, Warsaw and Kobe. These are discussed in detail in the chapter "Meetings and conferences with local people along the route".
These conferences focussed on ‘local’ issues related to Climate Change, although some of the examples discussed such as the forest fires in Siberia, and the increasing encroachment of sea-water into the Chinese coastal plain are on a scale that will have an impact on the whole world. The attendant press-coverage of the conferences, especially in Novosibirsk, undoubtedly drew the attention of the wider public to the anthropogenic causes of climate change.
Although these conferences were hosted by our local partner organisations, the presence of the international delegates from the high-profile "Climate Train" group provided a critical focus and inspiration which helped to gain wider recognition for the important work being done by climate scientists in Siberia and China. These meetings also allowed the indirect participation in the Climate Convention of many scientists and other concerned individuals who were not able to travel to Kyoto themsleves. These individuals told us their specific concerns, and the group who actually attended COP3 was able to lobby on their behalf.
Objective 3: To provide an opportunity, through workshops and seminars on the journey, for participants from various countries and backgrounds to work together to plan activities at the Convention and parallel events in Kyoto, and to build partnerships for future co-operation.
During the journey, both on the train and the boat, there were many workshops both to convey information about climate science and policy and the Climate Convention process, and to plan our own contribution to the COP and actions in Kyoto. The opportunity to use computers on the train and ship also allowed us to write promotional and information material for use during the journey and at Kyoto. Some of these workshops are described at the end of the chpater "Life on the Climate Train".
The close proximity of people whilst travelling also offered many informal opportunities to discuss issues and problems and, most importantly, it forced people from many countries and many diverse backgrounds and experiences to work together and consider different local perspectives on the global problem. Most delegates at the Convention, who had flown in just before it began and were frantically busy within their own lobby groups, would not find the time for such discussion which is so vital to finding an agreement between all peoples. Our experience of the diverse scenery and cultures through which we travelled also helped us to link the abstract climate negotiations with the real world.
However the problems that were encountered in obtaining tickets and visas (see the chapter "Bureacratic barriers to sustainable travel"), and the rough weather on the ferry between China and Japan, took up valuable time which we had planned to use for discussion and planning activities so we did not complete our ambitious schedule of workshops. However on the return journey we did have time to initiate discussion of new ideas discussed in the chapter on "Future Projects".
Objective 4: To help raise public awareness of climate issues in the critical two weeks just before the Kyoto Convention, by providing a good "story" for the media in many countries. Our "climate train" will make a connection between the international climate negotiations which seem very ‘abstract’ to many people, and the role of individual people’s lifestyles and specific local emissions and impacts.
The novel nature of the journey and the Climate Train group acted as an extremely effective mechanism for generating media interest and requests for presentations from the participants, both during and after the conference.
The group was well-equipped with satellite phone and lap-top computers, enabling reports to be faxed or emailed en-route. SGR’s press officer Dani Kaye disseminated information and reports from the Climate Train to many media contacts all over the world. Several of us had public relations and journalism skills, and so consequently, many of the articles and features produced by the group were published. For all of us, our experiences with dealing with the local media at conferences along the route helped us to be ready for the international media waiting for us at Kyoto. Our diverse group was seen by the media as a bridge between people at home and the professional climate negotiatiors, so our impressions on the process were often sought. Our high profile was the envy of many of the thousands of delegates at the Convention. jostling for media attaention, helping us to lobby effectively.
The Channel 4 News television report from the Climate Train reached millions of people both in the US and the UK on the first day of the COP, and there were several other television reports about the Climate Train This is all summarised in the chapter "Media coverage of the Climate Train".
Some personal views from participants
Richard Scrase and Yuri Dublianski sent out a questionnaire asking the participants to give their views on their experiences on the Climate Train, and many of the quotes in this report are drawn from their responses. Most of the quotes which relate to specific events have been included earlier, so only some of the more general ones are added below:
What did the participants feel they achieved and how has the Climate Train inspired them?
It has inspired me to continue to work on this issue, ideally I would like a position that would allow me to lobby within the UN framework and do further research in this area. And at least there is one sentence inserted in the mandate saying that air fuel should be allocated in the future. Dietrich Brockhagen
I want to publicise the climate change issue in Romania. To get involved in climate issues in the future, to publish something on the subject. To try to make some direct action in Romania (they are not common at all). To work with my government to create a workshop on Carbon trading. It has also given me some ideas for NGO projects. Cristina Parau
I want to travel more, take renewable energy sources more seriously, and get more involved in ‘Telepresence’, e.g. Cornell university and virtual reality.Bob Kenyon
I’m thinking of some projects in the energy field because there are a lot of opportunities in my country. Bianca Lotrean
Talking to people in Siberia whose climate change problems like forest burning are real, gave the issue much greater depth. Margaret Charnley
I delivered seven workshops, participated in five actions, and learnt some limitations of my facilitating. Daniel Swartz
I hope to write articles about the Climate Train / climate change / COP3 for environmental magazines and perhaps other media outlets. I want to continue campaigning in Warsaw by lobbying the city council, to persuade Warsaw to join the "Cities for Climate Protection", part of the international council for local environmental initiatives, or at least take up some of the initiatives described by this organisation. I will also check what other cities in Poland are doing and try to meet with Ministers of the environmental committee (who we met in Kyoto) and lobby them. I will send information to other train members and I’m going to learn Spanish and Tai-chi. And my friends are going to have to learn to eat seaweed with chop-sticks! Zuzanna Iskierka
Wwe have managed to bring the idea of Contraction and Convergence into the official negotiations. Phillipe Pernstich
This journey was a huge gift from the gods -a large and nice feast of the soul. I've become very interested in this problem, and also learnt that I have essential gaps in my knowledge. I will try to study more on the matter and apply my knowledge to the Mountain Altai region. Clearly, I will also learn English! Olga Chtanakova.
I got much information on all the problems I was interested in. Now In understand much better the strong and weak sides of UN work. Also I find many new friends and good professional contacts. Yuri Dublianski
Attending COP3 I obtained much information useful for me and for my colleagues from the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Regional Administration, NGOs and citizens of the Siberian Region; I’ve got in touch with a number of potential partners, consultants, as well as administration of the Convention; with many of them we'll be working through Internet; I assessed for myself the procedure of the Conference, its advantages and restrictions, as well as possible means of the efficiency improvement for the NGOs working at the conference. The idea of the Climate Train is useful and interesting because participation in an international team brings mutual cultural, educational and scientific enrichment. The visual perception of environmental problems in vast regions like Siberia and China was a kind of explanation of official delegates positions. It was important to communicate with people from these regions who were concerned about global climate problems -all those impressions were brought to the Convention. Konstantin Dunaev
When I first read the outline of the project I did not believe that it can be accomplished in its full extent. Now, when I go through my 350 photographs, once again I could not believe that we did all (and even more) than we planned and even dreamed when we were negotiating by email this unique and undoubtedly democratic action-journey. It is apparent that all organisers and participants of the Climate Train acquired the unique experience of establishing contacts by email and carrying the entire process from the preliminary idea exchange and negotiations to the accomplishment of the project and the build up of mutual understanding (which was often not easy at all) -also working in real time with dozens of NGOs and official delegates at the convention, and simply exercising the everyday tolerance to your friends. Also, I would like to mention my ‘colleagues’ -students- at Novosibirsk State University where I gave a talk on the Climate Train as part of my lectures and practical study of the atmosphere. If you could see their eyes and feel the eagerness and their interest during our discussions of the climatic and related social problems of the 21st century, you would immediately realise how important are projects such as the Climate Train to the younger generation. Sergey Pashenko.
What prevented us from achieving more?
For organising the journey we only used email, which is a new experience in Siberia. One of the problems was that the potential participants of the Climate Train had to exchange tremendous volumes of information in a short time. My old modem and outdated email were slow and not reliable in handling this information. The moral is that one needs good equipment to work on such complex projects, otherwise you may find yourself in an ‘information traffic jam’ and will fail in the management of important projects. Sergey Pashenko
Use of email was problematic for me at the start of the project because it was expensive for me to receive lots of the discussion list messages from abroad. Insufficient knowledge of Chinese and Japanese languages was another problem: English is not as widely used as one might expect. Few responsibilities regarding participation at the Convention were distributed among participants of the Climate Train. It was difficult to do preplanning because nobody knew what would happen tomorrow. The participation would have been more effective if participants of the "Climate Train" would attend sessions they prefer and then convey the hot information to others interested during common discussions. Among other small problems I would mention the absence of the information about other participants of the Climate Train at early stages of the project, shortage of information and equipment during the journey to Kyoto, some restrictions in living condition, shortage of operative planing of events and actions, highlighting the major events requiring collective decisions, activity and task sharing among the Climate Train participants. Konstantin Dunaev
Insufficient time to prepare due to work and child-care commitments. I shut down my life in a day and a half! Lack of knowledge of the COP structure, and too little time between decisions to buy equipment and the start of the journey. Bob Kenyon
We suffered in the UK due to poor links and as a result could not support the project remotely by press work as much as we planned. Conclusion: have several means of communication; have at least one press officer on such a trip Phil Webber.
It would have been nice to make politicians adopt tough targets without loopholes, we just do not have enough influence to outweigh the economic influences on them. Zuzanna Iskierka
The short sightedness of certain government delegates! Phillipe Pernstich
This was my first COP: if I had known the procedures I would have put in my workshop details two months earlier. Dietrich Brockhagen
Some new personal perspectives on Climate Change after the experience of the Climate Train
I have an idea of what could happen in the future and what some of the solutions could be. Now I think it is important that people have to know and be concious of the issue for the future of the planet. Cristina Parau
I learnt about Climate Engineering, learnt about the GCI proposal, now I would like to work on Climate Change and relate back to transport and waste issues. Zuzanna Iskierka
I am now more convinced it is a real problem. I am very worried about runaway feedbacks. Considering the implications for SE England - London flooded by rising sea-level, and the thermo-haline conveyor belt and hence the Gulf Stream switching off, I have now decided to move to Spain! Bob Kenyon
I feel stronger that some tools ought to be invented, which would control the life of the planet’s population. Only that could diminish the risk of anthropogenic cataclysm. Planet scale thinking can and must overtake the fatal objectivity of human behaviour. The arguments of the people denying the human-related climatic change are invalid, and the efficiency of work of the official organisations is far from being perfect. Konstantin Dunaev
Control of climate on the planet is our common task, it is also a very important problem for Siberia. Last year, when the summer in Siberia lasted five months instead of the "normal" three, and when drought led to prominent forest fires, gave us a warning. The fate of the climate is in our hands. Tatiana Gogoleva
First of all, I’ve got the impression that humanity is not yet ready to solve this problem -neither technically nor ethically. Scientifically we are just beginning to understand what is happening to the Earth’s climate. It looks unlikely that the models will appear in the near future that will be capable of truly reliable prediction of future climate change. The ethical aspect of the problem is also important. Scientists are used to thinking in global categories and operate with millenia-long timescales. By contrast, politicians, as far as I can tell from my COP3 impressions, are rigidly adherent to the interests of their countries (or their industries), the main timescale for them being the time left until the next elections. In such a situation it seems naive to expect that viable political decisions will be taken, which defend the long-term interests of humanity as a whole. Such a decisions could only be taken if they coincide with the short-term, closest interests of the most influential countries (the USA, EU, Russia, China), the probability of which is quite small.
I also discovered for myself yet another threat of climate change. This idea is used by the nuclear energy people for vigorous lobbying for their industry. Several well-organised conferences were held in Kyoto under the motto- "Nuclear -a clean air energy". As one of the speakers said: "If there is any excuse for the nuclear energy renaissance, it is climate change". Yuri Dublianski.
What Did the Climate Train Think of COP 3?
Like the other East Europeans, we support the EU position, but I was disappointed because we did not have a minister at this conference. I have obtained information and established contacts who ca n help our NGO in the future. Cristina Parau
Nice place, good organisation, not very effective and intensive discussions, governmental delegations' insensibility to ecological groups' actions, priority of the national economic interests, no great results. Irina Yevdokimova
I had been to a human rights conference and a scientific conference on air-transport. Kyoto was how I expected except I was surprised how open some of the ministers were, for example the Danish. minister. Dietrich Brockhagen
(Quote from Danish minister"The threat of Climate Change can never be overcome by diplomatic fraud"!)
I have not attended other political conferences, most people usually travel by train to the conferences I attend. At Kyoto, there was a chance to actually achieve something Dan Swartz
I thought everything was hidden, it wasted money and time! Cristina Parau
I have been to National Union of Students (UK), Liberal party and local Labour political conferences and various scientific conferences. Either a lot was hidden at Kyoto, or nothing was happening. This contrasts with scientific conferences. I appreciated the fact we were even allowed in! Bob Kenyon
I’ve never been to a political conference before. I’ve never seen so many bored people in suits gathered together. Bianca Lotrean
Its a shame the delegates did not really care about climate and the countries that may disappear. It was negotiations between big powers and none of them wanted to lose anything. If we had not been there, there would have been very few NGO people there. The role NGO’s take are valuable, perhaps the UN should provide money for them.. The ‘NGO forums’ make it easier, the organisation of having to travel through the city made it harder.Zuzanna Iskierka
The "official" part of the COP3 in comparison with a typical scientific conference looks very inefficient. This is especially true for the first 7 days of the COP3, when the delegates exchanged eloquent but empty speeches, elected chairpersons, etc. This, just as well, could have been done through teleconferences or simply omitted. The real events occurred during the last three days when the ministers arrived. By contrast, I was pleasantly surprised by the interaction of the two" branches" of the COP3 - the "official" and "NGO" ones. My impression is that a very good constructive style of joint work was developed, and that confrontational tendencies are almost absent (at least they do not dominate). This contrasted with my experience at an International Radioecological conference I attaneded in Krasnoyarsk,where the "NGO public" was much less tolerant and often badly interfered with the "professional" branch .At COP3 the very atmosphere of the conference was quite unusual for me, e.g., high attention from the press, UN security officers brought from Switzerland. Yuri Doublianski.
I've got much of contacts and the information. I feel that the Siberian problems did not get sufficient attention at the conference. Yuri Chirokov
I have found the official conference rather disturbing. I have been following international negotiations starting from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, and have attended the Copenhagen social summit myself, so I know a little about how the system works and how dodgy it in fact is. Yet spending two whole weeks travelling overland to a conference is a special experience that has further intensified my distrust in traditional politics and power. I have been an eye witness to negligence, selfishness and greed on a massive scale, practised by the same people who are supposed to lead our countries to sustainable development. The Kyoto conference has further strengthened my belief that power corrupts and that the current political system is devoid of any vision, of any reason, of any compassion. The climate negotiations in Kyoto have been obstructed by massive concentrations of excessive wealth and power. They have been whispering to the waiting ears of our elected representatives the beautiful lies that Climate Change does not exist, and even if it exists it is actually good for the planet, and even if it isn’t we can solve it by free trade, deregulation, downsizing, globalization and technical fixes. In many cases they have been dictating the government policies that are supposed to protect this planet and all life on it. In the USA it has been the oil companies and the car manufacturers, in Australia it has been the coal industry and the aluminium firms, in Finland it has been the paper and pulp industry. Knowing what climate change is and how it will probably affect the planet, knowing what needs to be done to prevent it - knowing all this and seeing the politicians' inaction makes you easily angry, frustrated, sad and pessimistic about our common future. Oras Tynkkynen.
I have been to four ‘subsidiary bodies’ meetings , but this was bigger and more confused. In the first week everybody seemed to be lost and did not know what to do. It was thus more difficult to find, approach and engage delegates. Later they were so focused on negotiations and so they were harder to lobby. Phillippe Pernstich
There was a tremendous number of different events occurring in different parts of the city which turned the forum into a fiery carnival with its conferences, exhibits, youth gatherings, podiums of ‘environmental mode’, funny attractions concerts, press conferences, receptions, and street actions. And behind the stages of this great feast, official delegates of national governments decided the fate of the global climate. We (the Siberian participants) were surprosed that, even though the overall profile of the conference was quite high Russia was represented by no more than a mere official of the Meteorological Committee - an organisation which as neither power, nor authority, nor money. Once again, Russia is well behind in tackling the pressing problems of life. Tatiana Gogoleva
From my experience of COP2 in Geneva, I had already anticipated that there would be no clear sense of direction in the official proceedings in Kyoto, yet still I was disappointed that so little of any substance was discussed before the last couple of days when the ministers arrived. But the greatest problem for me was the lack of any real structure to enable NGO delegates to contribute their knowledge and ideas at the appropriate moments, rather than always having to work by developing personal relationships during chance encounters in the corridor with policymakers, and relying on gossip to find out what was being discussed in the CoW. I found myself too busy organising the stall and specific events for the Climate Train, to have much time or energy left for to lobby delegates in this haphazard way.
Moreover, the polarisation of NGOs into environmental and business camps (which is encouraged by the secretariat in the arrangement of working space and presentations etc. in the Convention) leaves little room to discuss the evolving science of climate change rather than creating soundbites and slogans for the media. Some of the "environmental" NGOs liked to categorise people as "goodies" and "baddies" as if this were a children’s game, and I felt that they put too much emphasis on achieving consensus and solidarity, at the expense of real debate. They had been trying so hard right until the last days in Kyoto to protect this "environmental NGO consensus"centered around the "AOSIS protocol", that new ideas were stifled and people who might point out inconsistencies were not welcome. More recently however there have been refreshing signs that this is changing and many NGOs are seeking a broader and longer-term vision.
I was much more encouraged by the GLOBE and IPCC scientific meetings which I attended. Here I found a spirit of openness and honesty absent elsewhere in the Convention, and it was clear that behind the scenes there has been much progress since the Second Assessment Report of the IPCC.. This strengthened my resolve to continue working mainly in the scientific rather than the NGO community in the future.
But what is the use of all this detailed research if the diplomats don’t even bother to consider the scale of the problem and where we are going in the long term? There is not one sentence in the Kyoto Protocol which even mentions what might be a safe stabilisation level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or global average temperature rise, in accordance with the aims stated in Article 2 of the Convention. If you don’t start by settling how big the "cake" of total greenhouse gas emissions can be, all the arguments about what is a fair way to divide and trade this cake between countries are meaningless. I reckon that the Convention process has been directed more by lawyers than scientists, and that is why we are not getting anywhere. I would not be disappointed if, as many people are now predicting, they fail to reach any agreement at COP4 this November about the unresolved issues of trading and developing country participation, and consequently the whole Kyoto protocol collapses and we have to start again with a longer-term solution based first on the scientific view of the scale of the climate change problem, rather than continuing to persue a "sticky plaster" approach to a fundamentally flawed protocol, trying patch up each little problem as it appears. But of course this would be heresy to many people whose careers are dependent on proclaiming their achievements at Kyoto. Ben Matthews
The following quotation comes from an email sent by Michelle Valentine to Azza Taalab, who requested reponses from NGO participants in COP3 about the facilities provided by the Secretariat and how greater involvement of NGO’s could be encouraged in the future.
The first major problem for us was accommodation. We were very lucky that the Japanese NGOs had arranged for us to stay at the Kenso-Zen-In Temple in Kyoto for free. But it was very crowded with both our group, and the group of Korean activists. We had no privacy and were unable to hold effective meetings because of lack of space as well as time. I know that it may not necessarily be the responsibility of the UNFCCC to provide accommodation for delegates, but to encourage attendance and the participation of smaller NGO's it is vital that there is sufficient affordable accommodation available for them. Many of the larger NGO's could afford to stay in a hotel where they had their own 'incident room'.
Also, our group was comprised of people from many countries, who when they arrived in Kyoto had different priorities at the conference, some wanted to talk to delegates, some wanted to plan actions, some were attending workshops and sending reports to media contacts, and some like me were more involved with the organisation of the group itself. This meant that we found it difficult to co-ordinate ourselves effectively, and I feel that we lost much of the momentum that had been built up whilst we were travelling together. It is not the fault of the UNFCCC that we had different agendas, but I do feel that the lack of meeting places provided was a significant drawback. Some large NGO's were provided with their own meeting rooms, but more space should have been made available for other groups to use. I felt that CAN monopolised the resources provided for environmental NGOs by the UNFCCC. There should be a photocopier, fax machine etc. available for all NGO people, at a much lower cost than the expensive fax service available from the business centre. Another problem was the cost of food and drinks at the Convention; the cafes were all vastly overpriced. Perhaps the Secretariat could consider arranging bulk cooking of cheap and nutritious food. I am sure that many people would have been glad of a hot meal in the day, since everyone was working such long hours just to try and keep pace with events.
It has to be borne in mind that there is a great disparity of wealth between delegates, from expenses paid government representatives to small NGO members who often work on a voluntary or low paid basis. The factors I mention above do impede the effective involvement of NGO representatives. The problems caused by a lack of resources can lead to a general feeling of disempowerment about the whole COP process.
However, I would say that the receptions organised by the Secretariat, were a very good opportunity to talk to delegates face to face. I think this is a vitally important opportunity, rather than relying on gatherings which are selective and aimed at just one delegation or sector of organisations. There are many useful cross-fertilisations that can be made by all delegates being able to meet in the same rooms on an informal basis and I found this a very good way of making contacts. I was also encouraged by the fact that we were able to book a room for our presentation. We did not have to be a big NGO, but just to have something useful to contribute. The timing of Monday 1 December was rather unfortunate since few people came, but nonetheless the opportunity was a useful one. In fact delegates I chatted to later were sad that they had missed our talk, since many felt we were a genuinely new and interesting group. As for the actions that we did, I was not part of them since I was more involved with working on our stall and various organisational aspects. From what I heard the production of our Climate Protection Airline tickets was effective in making delegates think about the issues of aviation and climate change.
I was very pleased that I was able to address the COP on behalf of the Climate Train; this was a very important chance for us to spell out what we thought about climate change and to make clear our demands for the future. One of these, which would encourage participation from many more groups, was that much more teleconferencing should be introduced, so that fewer people have to travel to attend the conference, and so that participation of a wider section of society is possible. Generally though, I found the experience very stimulating and interesting and I would like to urge the Secretariat to consider ways of improving the conferences to enable more people to make an input into this issue, which affects everyone on our planet. Michelle Valentine.
Conclusion: Did we help to "Save the Climate"?
Conclusion: Did we help to "Save the Climate"?
The preceding chapters have shown both how the Climate Train fulfilled its specific objectives, and how it influenced some of the people who actually travelled with us. However these were short term objectives and we are only a few of the six billion inhabitants of this planet, all of whom both breathe and pollute our common atmosphere. Some of us may ponder the more difficult, larger scale, long-term question: did we really help to "Save the Climate", as our T-shirts said for the cameras? Certainly, we contributed to many activities in the Climate Convention, and our journey provided the impetus for unique conferences on the route which helped to bring local people together to work on this problem. We also tried to do all this while minimising our own emissions of greenhouse gases. Moreover, if one were to calculate for various groups of people who attended COP3, the ratio of the number of stories they created in newspapers, radio and television, divided by the amount of resources it took to get them there, it is probable that our Climate Train would come out a clear winner. Although the "big shot" ministers received much more attention, we must bear in mind that each one is supported by vast back-up teams of civil servants and advisors, of whom those who flew to Kyoto are but the tip of the iceberg. Some of the larger environmental NGOs, while hardly well-off, still put in much more resources than us to make their headlines. But we should not judge the final outcome, either of our project or of the COP itself, by the amount of talk or papers it generated. In the long term, what matters is whether we all manage, to quote article two of the Convention, "to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at a level which will prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system". In other words, will our grandchildren inherit a comfortable planet for all the great variety of life, or will many of them die from famine, flood or disease, while a few swelter in isolated biospheres planning an escape to Mars? The unpredictable combination of many positive biogeochemical feedback processes still makes this a real possibility if we do not rapidly change our ways.
If we were to judge the success of the Climate Train by the main outcome of the COP itself, the Kyoto protocol, probably most of us would be disappointed (note: for those who are not familiar with the protocol, refer to the summary earlier) Although government ministers naturally like to proclaim their success at Kyoto, a simple comparison of the emissions reductions agreed in Kyoto, with the long-term emissions reductions required to reach safe, sustainable and equitable levels shows that we have hardly begun (for such figures see the earlier chapter "the scale of the problem"). While some people argue that the protocol is a valuable first step, we must remember that those opposed to emissions reductions can now say, this is the only step we are obliged to take for the next 13 years (the first period of emissions reductions specified in the protocol ends in the year 2012). During this period there is may be no limitation at all on the emissions from most countries of the world. Meanwhile the recent meetings of the subsidiary bodies to the COP in Bonn have shown that now the media spotlight is less intense the negotiations have once again returned to procedural minutiae. If there is no more substantial step before COP16, then this may be too late to avert serious damage to the climate system.
Although we tried to minimise the greenhouse gas emissions from our journey to the COP by travelling by train and boat, these emissions are still quite substantial. As Dietrich Brockhagen’s calculation showed (see "ecobalance" chapter), if we are trying to live sustainably we could each make such a journey once every year, wheras we could only fly from Europe to Japan once every eight years. But our journey still used a large part of each participant’s "greenhouse gas budget" for sustainable travel, and the round trip also took six weeks. Moreover for some people who have been organising the trip beforehand and preparing the report and accounts afterwards, the whole project lasted not for six weeks but for more than a year. The budget also shows that, although we tried to keep expenses to a minimum, the project was not so cheap. These resources of people’s time and money might have been spent instead on other projects to help "save the climate" -on local campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, on scientific research into climate feedback processes or development of energy-efficient technology, or even on planting trees.
So although we might have succeeded in our specific aims, if the whole UNFCCC process is so inefficient, was it really worth the effort to get to Kyoto at all? Probably many people who fly to such conventions rarely consider such a question, they take their jet-setting lifestyle for granted and frequent travel to conferences becomes a perk of the job and a status symbol in itself. Because our journey took much more time and was not so simple to organise, it has made us think harder about this issue. It is probable that for many of the millions of people who have heard about our journey through the international media, this will also be the most obvious question -12 days each way on the train and boat, was it really worth it? Perhaps, if they also understand why we did not fly instead, we hope some might see the dilemma and apply the same question to their own travel to conferences and holidays, and discuss it with their neighbours over a cup of tea, and slowly, slowly, the true scale of the problem and how we all contribute to it will sink in to people’s conciousness. If climate scientists and environmentalists only preach that we must all reduce emissions, most people will ignore us. By setting an example instead, we hope we helped more people to think about what this really means for their own lives. In this sense, we exploited the high media profile of the Climate Convention in Kyoto to help make this connection. It may well be true (although it is impossible to judge), that from the point of view of influencing the international climate policymakers, we could have achieved more with the same time and resources by staying at home and using telecommunications, and this would also have been more environmentally friendly. But if we had done this instead we would have been invisible both to the jet-setting diplomats and to most people at home who are not yet devoted to the internet. Whether or not the COP achieved much, it wasa unique opportunity for us to publicise this issue of sustainable travel, and to exploit this we had to actually make the journey. We also hope we can build on this later, for instance using the Climate Train story as a foundation for the planned book on this topic.
But it is still not enough only to exploit the UNFCCC process to publicise the side-issue of air-travel’s contribution to global warming. Although there are plenty of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, both through green technology and through lifestyle changes, most of these will not happen on a large scale unless there is a financial incentive, unless the true cost of burning fossil fuel and realeasing greenhouse gases is built into our economic system. This means we need emissions quotas, and because we all share one common atmosphere, they must be agreed globally. There is no alternative process to the UN Climate Convention which can achieve this, so we have to strive to make it work better. This UNFCCC process has both frustrating and encouraging aspects, as demonstrated by the range of quotes from Climate Train delegates above. It is created mainly by the people who have been involved long enough to understand the intricate mechanisms, but these same people sometimes tend to lose sight of the wood for the trees. Therefore a continuous flux of new people, some of whom will later become old hands, is essential for a healthy process. Our Climate Train helped by bringing some fresh enthusiastic people into the Climate Convention, particularly from countries underrepresented among the main environmental NGOs.
We hope especially that our Siberian delegation to the COP and others who took part in our conference in Novosibirsk will continue to lobby their own country to play a more enthusiastic role in the climate negotiations. We have found that many citizens of Siberia are deeply concerned about the climate change already affecting their land, which is causing the peat and the forests to burn as we have ourselves observed. Yet despite the economic crisis, greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from the oil and gas industry, are still higher per person than in western Europe and Russia’s emissions quota in the protocol poses no challenge to lower them. In Beijing, the people we met seemed very knowledgeable about the science of global warming and its threat to Chinese agriculture and coastal cities, yet history still causes the government to be suspicious of any calls from the "west" for a global agreement to solve the problem. By coming on the train, we impressed upon them our genuine concern and willingness to reduce our own emissions.
As well as these conferences along the route we also used the time on the trains and boat for many workshops, but we all felt that there was not enough time for all the workshops that we had planned, due to the stream of technical problems with visas and tickets which constantly engaged the project leaders. Our long journey did not fit neatly into the pigeonholes of government officials, which they have designed for package tourists and convention delegates who are assumed to fly in only the day before it begins. Thus despite anticipating such problems in advance we were only able to get our group to Kyoto after much uncertainty, many changes of train, and a sit-in at the Japanese embassy, and 12 out of our expected 48 participants were not able to travel to Kyoto at all due to insurmountable visa problems. We hope that by highlighting here such unnecessary "bureaucratic barriers to sustainable travel" we might encourage a few government officials to get together to reduce these obstacles.
After overcoming all these technical problems it was a wonderful moment standing on the deck of the ferry singing our "climate song", seeing the bright lights of Kobe harbour appear beneath the dark storm clouds and green hills of Japan, and then finally the flashes of the press cameras waiting for us on the quayside. Our journey was almost complete and we had already achieved much of what we set out to do, for some of us six months before, when we sent those early emails proposing the idea. We enjoyed our bicycle ride to Kyoto and looked forward to engaging with more serious discussion in the Convention. However, arriving at COP3, as we later told the diplomats in our statement, we found a very limited and discouraging process, and it was difficult to lobby effectively since many of the most important sessions were closed to NGO delegates. Nevertheless each person found his or her own way to influence the negotiations since, as originally intended, we were a diverse group from many organisations travelling together to bring many different skills to apply to a common problem. This is demonstrated by the wide range of activities described in the chapter "Climate Train contribution to the COP".
The Climate Train was an ambitious project and, as explained earlier, we chose perhaps the hardest nut of all to crack in trying to tackle the problem of constraining the rapidly rising emissions from aircraft. Sometimes it seems like a thankless task, when people say we are crazy to think we can persuade so many people to change their high-energy lifestyle, and however loud a few people shout we will only make a small puff of wind in the great atmosphere of our planet. But we should remember that human society, like the weather itself, is dominated by feedback processes, and recall the famous butterfly who, by flapping his wings, later created a storm on the other side of the world. If, as many people say, we are at a turning point in the history of our planet, perhaps our Climate Train gave it another little nudge in the right direction to help "save the climate". Of course, only our grandchildren will be able to tell whether we really succeeded. We hope at least to be able to tell them, that we tried our best.
We must thank again all who contributed to the project in so many ways, those who provided the funds that enable people from so many countries to take travel with us, those who arranged our conferences along our route, our wonderful hosts in Japan, and above all those who who stayed at home but put so much of their time and effort into the organisation, publicity and reporting of our journey. We hope that this report has helped all of you to share a little of our unique experience from the Climate Train.