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Laren Environmental Conference

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The Isle of Laren may have seemed an odd choice for a series of talks on the environment but in Queen Julia's mind it made sense. The purpose of the conference was to discuss and set some targets about how to ensure that the world was protected for generations to come and the fact that at least to her faith it was here on this Isle that all creation began. The isle was off the southern tip of Morheim and despite its rather large size it was home to just 1000 people. The island already had strict controls over what could be done there and the people who had elected to make the island their home, people often referred to be Morheimians as The Caretakers because of the way they tried to live in harmony with the nature present on the island. The royal family had built a retreat here in the 1700's and Julia could actually count on the fingers of one hand how many times she'd visited. The staff had arrived a week earlier and spent the time sweeping out the cobwebs and making the place look more lived in.  On the day the conference would begin the lawn behind would be used as a helicopter landing pad to which delegates would be ferried by Air Force helicopter as they arrived at Thale International Airport. The arrangements may not have been the most practical but the venue would serve to illustrate some of the issues that Julia hoped to bring up and that could be a rather useful technique. 

On the morning put aside for the meeting it was the Queen's brother Prince Isaak who greeted the arrivals. He was five years older than his sister but in Morheim the throne passed down the female line as after all it was women's blood who nourished the new born thus ensuring the families blood remained pure as it passed down over the generations. He was actually happy as Prince, he had few royal duties beyond shaking hands and could concentrate on his career flying in the Air Force. A band made up of Marines stood ready to play the national anthems of the nation arriving and as each deplaned at the airport Isaak saluted them, shook their hand and made small talk with them as they were shown the way to the waiting helicopter. It was one of the fleet of five that served the royals and from the outside may look like it was ready for a combat zone but inside large leather seats, air conditioning and a smiling Air Force steward awaited. It was only a thirty minute flight but the pilots ferrying the guests to the island as soon as they arrived at the airport made sure to keep low giving stunning views of the Morheim coastland and the strip of ocean leading to the largely untouched island. As the aircraft touched down on the back lawn Julia waited, a trademark black pin stripe suit, white shirt and plain Morheim blue tie as usual. Once the blades stopped spinning the Air Force steward opened the door and flicked the steps down before saluting his monarch. The Queen returned the salute with a nod before making her way to greet the first arrival. "It's a pleasure to welcome you to the Laren Environmental Conference" She said with a hand outstretched. 

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The Rihannsu diplomat Jovis tr'Anaka had arrived in Morheim following their monarch's invitation to Laren for a key conference on a global commitment to conserve the environment and begin the process of maintaining the stability of the Eurth's natural order. His people had always relished the great outdoors and enjoying its beauty. A majority of citizens were avid hikers, riders, or mountaineers. By proclamation of the Senate, millions upon millions of acres of land were placed into public ownership in the name of preserving the landscape, an area's ecosystem or enabling those who lived in dense, urban areas access to green open space. He had been instructed by both the Foreign and Environment Ministers to ensure that the Republic was actively involved in developing the final agreement. Anaka was aware the Republic was undergoing an economic upswing, if not due to the semi-liberalization the Praetor had gotten through the Senate but more for the impending conflict in the East.

The helicopter he had been escorted to at the airport in Thale conveyed him to the island where the conference was to take place. Jovis, a normally stoic individual, was genuinely impressed with the scenery he could see from above and was stunned at the visit as Laren came into view. Though Morheim was beautiful, he'd still always consider Rihan to be the best place on Eurth. He was informed that they would be touching down momentarily and he could make out a young, regal woman standing. "Her Majesty, Queen Julia the Younger," he commented to himself. Before he had left Dartha, Jovis had been given a dossier on the individuals who would be attending, including their host. She greeted him with an outstretched hand. He smiled and met her hand, shaking it. "It is truly an honor to be here. I am confident that we all will come to a historic outcome that will benefit all who inhabit this planet."

Edited by Rihan
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Arriving in Morheim, the Tikvan Environment Minister, Talya Shoshan, was prepared to participate in the conference. She was a seated member of the Knesset and perhaps one of the most 'progressive' members of the Prime Minister's governing coalition. She herself was quite surprised when Jacob had presented her with the position following the election that had returned him to the Prime Ministry for an unprecedented third term (there was a three-year gap between the first and second times in the role). Her predecessor, who had been in the position for a decade, had been instrumental at moving the country forward on renewable energy in coordination with the two Energy Ministers he had worked with. Homes had been mandated to have solar water heaters which had reduced the nation's hydrocarbon generation demand by 4% and had gotten Lasker to make a commitment to transfer 25% of the entire nation's energy generation by renewables within a half a decade and an outright majority before 2040. After meeting the ruling monarch as she disembarked from the helicopter, she began thinking of what would be discussed on this pleasant and well-maintained island.

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Life could take one to some very strange places and lead one on odd paths. Megas Logothetes Presbyteros Paulos Narses could attest to that personally. He was very glad that @Morheim wasn't one of them. He had read the briefing materials that the Logothesion ton Barbaron had provided for him and was pleasantly surprised by what he had read about the country. The Queendom had gained independence from @Derthalen, although hundreds of years ago, and it might be thought that the country would be a bit more... unbalanced, like its parent state.

But, other than an odd religion that seemed to be almost entirely confined to Morheim itself and a voting system biased towards those judged to be intelligent, the country seemed like one of the more normal states in that part of Argis, if not Eurth. Especially considering its closest neighbours other than Derthalen were @Greater Serbia, a nation happy to commit genocide, and @Aluxia, an autocratic and isolationist country currently embroiled in a civil war. Morheim could have been forgiven if it had been a lot more militaristic than it apparently was. Certainly, sharing a border with Machina Haruspex had made Arhomaneia a lot more martial than the country that was the heart of civilisation of Eurth ought to have been.

Narses had been lobbying for the Megas Agios Basileia to hold a conference on the environment since he had taken up the post of Megas Logothetes ton Agelon, Minister for the Environment, as he felt that there needed to be a more unified approach to the threat of environmental change and global warming than individual nations pursuing their own policies. Morheim had stolen a march on Tagmatium by doing so first. In a way, he was glad that the Queendom had done so – the ostentatious ceremonies and displays that Arhomaneia would have felt necessary to show its superiority to the unwashed barbarians visiting it would have eclipsed and undermined the intent behind the conference. Instead, the unspoilt island to the south of Morheim was a good setting for the conference and would hopefully serve to remind those visiting what was possibly at stake. Nonetheless, Narses was privately disappointed that his government hadn't acted on his advice.

However, the environmentalist credentials of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion couldn't be doubted – renewable energy was a prime concern under Kommodos III, as well as re-wilding and generally attempting to reduce the carbon footprint of the Megas Agios Basileia. Towards the end of the last year, the nation had even managed an entire week with its energy generated completely by renewable means and it would not be too long before that might even be on a permanent basis. The policies weren't just underpinned by the strategic concern that it was best for Arhomaneia to become less dependent on foreign powers for its energy, but also based on theological views, too. God had placed the stewardship of His creations into the hands of Man and ruining it, through ignorance, indifference or malice, would likely displease Him.

Prince Isaak had seemed pleasant enough when Narses had been chatting to him at Thale International Airport and the Morheimian marines had done a good rendition of the Megas Agios Basileia's national anthem as the Megas Logothetes had stepped off the aeroplane. It may not have surprised the Prince that the conservative Christian nation was at least somewhat familiar with matrilineal monarchies – the Beautiful Empire of @Orioni was one, after all, and gender inequality was something that couldn't be laid at Arhomaneia's door. At Narses' own insistence, the clutch of bodyguards that had accompanied him were left waiting with the plane. A climate conference was not the best place for them and he appreciated that going to a holy island with soldiers might well be considered as very insulting by the Morheimians.

Now that he stepped out of the helicopter, smoothed down his black robes and looked around at the holy island and smiled to himself about the incongruity of it all – a priest of Eurth's largest Christian denomination standing in a site sacred to heathen religion. Narses had been a Megas Logothetes in the Logothesion of Overseas Geological Oddities for years, after having decided that life as a professor of geology at the Mouseion was too stressful. Six years ago, he had retired and taken up a life in service to God, becoming a village priest in a rural backwater. However, when the previous head of the Logothetes ton Agelon had stepped down, Narses had found himself personally requested by the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator to take over the ministry. As a servant of God, how could he refuse the man who was God's chosen representative on Eurth?

The Megas Logothetes shook Queen Julia's hand and he gave her a smile, which was almost hidden by his large, greying beard. He towered over the queen and his large paw almost entirely eclipsed the queen's hand. He'd been a keen amateur boxer and wrestler in his youth and it still showed in his physique, despite him almost out of his middle age.

“It is a pleasure to be here, your majesty,” he said. “It's about time that we had a conference on this. I pray to God that it is productive.”

He stood back and allowed himself to be directed by some Morheimian aides towards the royal retreat that was to be the venue of the conference. It was certainly very pretty and not some sprawling edifice that many monarchies might have built. Undoubtedly it was because to do otherwise would have impacted on the island more and the heathen beliefs that the Morheimians held stated that this island was the place life had been created. That was certainly a blasphemy but barbarians ignorant of True Religion couldn't really be blamed for thinking odd things. The minister-priest looked around for a sight of other delegates – Narses had seen aircraft from @Tikva and Tellosanon, @Rihan, as he had descended from his own aircraft. Ideally, the majority of nations of Eurth would send delegates to this conference but that may be too much to hope for.

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Julia was rather excited, her Queendom hadn't really engaged much in global politics, content to stick in the past to trade and research. Now she was welcoming the first delegate from @Rihan to visit Morheim as far as she was aware. "Good Morning" she said with a smile. "I truly hope we can form some kind of agreement, but also get to know each other rather better. I know Morheim has rather been absent from international affairs and as such neglected international relations. I hope I can kill two birds with one stone." She paused suddenly realising the words she'd said, "Maybe just not birds from this island." She said rather red faced. "If you'd care to head inside I'm sure they've a fire going." A junior Army Officer from the Light Scouts escorted Jovis tr'Anaka inside and found him a place in what looked like a large lounge with sofas arranged in a horse shoe around a roaring fire the sweet smell of the wood filling the room. The officer brought him a cup of tea and some ginger biscuits while outside Julia began greeting the next delegate. 

"Talya Shoshan of @Tikva" an aide whispered in the Queen's ear. It was one advantage of using the island, they could control who landed in what order and the Queen knew exactly who would be stepping out. It gave the youngster a small boost of confidence being able to apply the briefing details so directly. "Thank you for attending" the Queen began, "I'm glad your nation have attended I understand you've begun taking measures already to use renewables, its something that may come in useful during the talks." She commented remembering the details from the dark brown cardboard folder her Secretary had given her this morning. "If you pop inside Jovis tr'Anaka from Rihan has already arrived, I look forward to joining you shortly." She watched as a second Light Scouts officer took Talya inside, introduced them to Jovis and brought more tea and biscuits. 

 

Finally it was the turn of  Paulos Narses of @Tagmatium Rules, "Welcome to our island" Julia had been told this would be the final helicopter for the time being, she was rather disappointed that it would be just the four of them but from "small acorns giant oaks grew" she remembered one of her father's favourite phrases. "I had hoped to be knee deep in delegates by now" she added as she personally escorted Paulos inside. "But we'll just have to be the trialblazers" she smiled reassuringly as they entered the lounge. Julia made sure everyone was introduced and sat down next to Talya and poured Paulos a tea from a white china pot that stood on the centre of a low table, she then poured one for herself before offering the plate of biscuits around. 

 

"Well I must say I'd hoped this lounge would have been packed with delegates by now, but a nice little gathering can probably get things set up far easier than a mighty gathering of nations. We can then work together to spread whatever we agree on across the globe and then hopefully see a second conference in a few years time swelled well beyond this." She began hopefully. " Now if I can begin by explaining my vision for this gathering and then fingers crossed we can get a few more people in here by then." She hadn't been informed of anyone else being inbound but was hopeful they may pick one or two up later. "What I hope to do is get a series of targets on matters ranging from food waste to fossil fuel use, to protecting fishing stocks to reducing green house gases. Now once we've got some targets on the table we need to look at how we can support each other to achieve them, be that technological advice, sharing best practice, carrying out research or student exchanges. I also have an idea for what I'm provisionally calling a Green Bank, a multi-national fund that would support research by small companies into such technology such as cleaning up the oceans, cutting down on fossil fuel use or even such projects as one company in Morheim trying to develop a bacteria that will eat plastic. Many great ideas are being left behind because of a lack of funds." She could feel herself on the verge of beginning to wander with her thoughts and so stopped. "The reason I picked this island is its the most perfectly green place I can think of. The people of this Holy Island live as green as anyone I'm aware of on the planet, they love nature, revere life and see themselves as the Guardians of Gods creation. Now I know you won't have the same religious outlook as us but the way this island is could be a dream for the whole world's attitude. So does anyone have any ideas for our talks beyond setting some targets and establishing a Green Bank, and maybe more importantly, how do we get more people to support whatever we agree on here today." 

 

 

Edited by Morheim
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"Damn the monsoons!" thought Nikol Het Lvólv as she landed on Laren, "This will certainly look terrible for the country. To arrive late for a diplomatic event..." She hurriedly exited and hailed a cab using very rushed and flustered Morheimian, "Hello! Yes! You, mister taxi car man! Please, can you give me a ride to the Climate conflict... erm, Conference."

"The what? " asked the cabby, "You mean the Laren Environment Conference? Wait, aren't you? ... never mind. Hop in, I'll get you there quick-like."

As the taxi rushed to the conference, Lvólv pondered the nature of the conference and her goals there. Not a particularly difficult thing to do, this meeting was a friendly one. And what a great opportunity for friendship it was, Morheim had always been viewed fondly in Bulgenstaz. While they operate under a monarch, they had made great struggle in the past and successfully liberated themselves from Derthaler imperialism. Such courage makes a strong nation. As for the other attendees, there were notable other nations (and perhaps others who had not been mentioned to Nikol). The State of Tikva, who has been making progressive strides in foreign aid surrounding the Aluxian Civil War, was quite remarkable. The history of relations surrounding the two countries has been few to none, but perhaps now was time to change that. Rihan has also been setting themselves up as a major player, especially since the founding of the Aurelian league. Goodwill with the diplomat here may go a ways back in Khenkhourt. As for the Tagmatine... it would be best to avoid making conflict. Rather, maybe we can use this conference to better relationships and move toward a friendlier future. Yes, perhaps.

Aside from relations, there was the nature of the conference. It would be surrounding environmentalism: policy that had been catching the eye more and more around Khenkhourt. If these discussions went well, it would most likely boost global environmental initiatives. It could also mean a bonus for the Ministry of Conservation, and for Lvólv. Both those outcomes would be most desired, she decided.

As the cab arrived, Nikol Het Lvólv hastily paid for the ride, and apologized profusely despite the fact that the taxi was in no way related to the event. As she walked toward the building, she muttered to herself, "Get your act together, Nikol. Do not embarrass yourself and your country here. Relax, there is not any reason to be nervous." In truth, Nikol had rarely been outside the country, save for a climate conference a few years back, and felt quite out of her element. She arrived up to the gates and said a quick "sorry" before being ushered inside to the main conference.

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Minister Shoshan thanked the Queen for the invitation, "it is a pleasure to be here on this stunning island. When Prime Minister Lasker informed me of the deliberations, I could hardly wait to fly up from Alharu. I am confident we will come to a long-lasting agreement by the end of the sessions," she remarked. The Shai, Tikva's intelligence service, had spent time inspecting the attendees of the conference, including the delegate from the Rihan Republic, a nation so far away, the State had little reason to be involved with it - until now. "Ambassador Anaka," Talya said. The charming Rihannsu gentlemen, "a pleasure," he commented. "I think there is any one nation that could probably convince an entire continent to go along with may transpire here, it's you," referring to the Aurelian League. She suspected that she probably would have irked the Tagmatine representative but she would leave the damage control of that petty comment with the Foreign Ministry upon her return.

Talya took her seat and listened attentively to Julia's introduction to the conference and the goals she wanted to see achieved. Once she had concluded her remarks, Shoshan responded. "This is an admirable list of objectives," she began, "something I certainly believe we can make significant headway on but many of goals require a massive ramp up in the utilization of renewable energy sources - though there a great sum of nations that have begun to go down that path, it cannot be a solar panel here and a closed oil plant here. We are talking about the complete change of Eurth's very common tie to the product of oil. I am not saying it is impossible, but it will require vast sums of money. I am sure there are several nations who in principle may want to be on board with this - their wealth would come from such oil - the OPEC nations may hold a different interpretation of what is achieved here." 

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