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Laren Environmental Conference

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“Attempting to effectively dismantle the oil-based world economy is precisely what we are trying to do here,” pointed out Narses, although he shrugged and settled back in his chair. Whilst he had been given the power to talk about and agree to a number of wide-ranging topics by the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator, there were certainly some things that would need to be mulled over beforehand. And such epoch-making decisions were likely amongst them. If nothing else, both the Tagmatine ministers for trade and finance would be rather irritated if he decided on such things without consulting them in any way. “Although I will say that it could well be beyond the scope of what we are discussing here, although it is undoubtedly our ultimate aim.”

“Since the OPEC nations are quite disparate and without any real driving force behind them, it is perhaps not a hard a task as otherwise – if our nations, and others who will hopefully come to join us later, God willing, were to organise and form an administration along these lines, we would likely tip the balance away from the more conventional oil-producing nations and help wean Eurth off of oil.” Again, this was just musing on the part of the minister-priest. There were clear problems to it, even at this early and entirely hypothetical stage. Narses took a sip of tea and then swirled the dregs about in his cup, watching the liquid move about as he did so. He realised it was something of a childish action and he stopped and slowly drank the rest of the tea, pausing before he spoke again. “Of course, one of the issues might be that we end up becoming far too entrenched or invested in the production of oil and start to be exactly what we are trying to fight – we shall have to remain vigilant against that possibility, assuming that we go forward with it. Although I'm possibly getting bogged down here.

“And, Ambassador Anaka - unless I'm being too literal here – I doubt anything supported by Rihan or Arhomaneia will have much to fear from piracy.” There was certainly an element of typical Tagmatine arrogance to that statement, but facts would definitely bear the sentiment out. Whilst the Tellosanoi might still be a rising power, the rest of their continent was rising with them. They were the first among equals and would likely soon become the predominant power in the south-western part of Eurth. And with one of the major powers of the Old World and the coalition of Aurelia behind any agreement, it would be a very foolhardy pirate indeed that tried to prey on those shipments.

“I could well be going beyond what her majesty wants to guide us towards here, but a permanent council of nations that abide by the agreements that we work out here could well have more bite than just a treaty that we all sign,” Narses said, with a slight nod of the head towards Queen Julia. The Megas Logothetes sat up straight in his chair again and leaned forward to help himself to a biscuit. He munched on it for a moment and the quiet in the room showed that the rest of those gathered were either considering his words or formulating their own ideas. At the moment, it did seem that the atmosphere of the Laren Environmental Conference was fruitful. That was very hopeful. “But starting smaller may well be the best way to go, at least for the moment.

“Private investment in the bank is a very interesting idea, and it does have a lot of merit.” Narses knew it was a lot easier to shoot down ideas than actually put them forward, so he did feel slightly bad for what he was about to say. It was a good idea, sadly. “Perhaps this is coming from a certain standpoint, but my fear would be that some governments could use private investment as a way of getting around any obligations that they themselves might have. Ideally, it would not just be a public or private solution, but both.”

Wherever the minister-priest's train of thought was going next was cut off somewhat by the document that Queen Julia took from the leather folder that she was holding. Narses took one of the proffered documents and started to read it. Nothing was entirely unreasonable within it. Some aspects of it might be quibbled over and he knew that, to a greater or lesser extent, the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion would hate to give up anything it might consider a strategic advantage over other nations. But, on the other hand, there was the God-given stewardship over the world that must be held as a priority.

“As the Ambassador from Rihan says, it is something of a 'moon-shot'” - an odd turn of phrase, that - “but nothing is truly beyond our scope here, I feel.”

Some of the time limits imposed might be drastic but then if global climate change was to be taken as seriously as it needed to be, then drastic steps needed to be taken. The Tagmatine continued to look at the treaty and a slight frown began to creep across his brow.

“I notice, your majesty, that there are no provisions for the protection of animal or plant species,” he stated, tapping at his copy of the treaty with a forefinger. “Is this intentional, or is it an oversight? I imagine that most of the countries that are attending this conference have something akin to the ones that Arhomaneia has been conducting for some years. For instance, since the 1960s, a breeding programme for the Occidental Bison has been operating, partially under my own ministry and other organisation. This has fed into a policy of re-wilding that has come into play under Kommodos III, may God guide him. Did you not consider adding something like that to this treaty? As you're already encouraging reforestation, it could hardly be much more of a step from there.”


OOC: I apologise for the slight gearshift mid-post, but I'd already written up a chunk before @Morheim's latest post and I didn't want to chuck it all away :P

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"But of course," responded Anaka to Narses, "I was just saying if we do go ahead and put this agreement into force, there has been strict regulation and means of enforcement. It is fair to say that we are not all going to be in a position to sign this today, after all," taking a pause, "the honorable Senators back in Dartha will need to get behind it, much in the same spirit as your Emperor," commented Jovis. "But those are procedures that can be undertaken assuming everyone here is on the same page on the underlying framework Her Majesty here," extending his hand in expression has put before us."

"The OPEC nations may exist in such an organization for the purposes of deliberation and there is yet to be any indication of their unified front that would cause a challenge but it is equally possible that once they learn of this, they will respond, eventually." He looked Narses, "perhaps my reference to piracy was misrepresented. It was only made when we were still talking about a solution you came up with." It was just as clear to Jovis as it was to his Tagmatine counterpart that there was still some stinging wounds that would need to hear. Prior to the Laren Conference, both Arhomaneia and Rihan had come to the point that they had to recognize each other and move forward, slowly. 

"I do concur with my Tagmatine colleague - a small council consisting of those present and two or three other participants would be a tremendous beginning of aligning efforts and hopefully spark others to get engaged in the process. Once we have mass, then we can grow it."

"As to the bank," he changed topics in a flourish, "I do think private investment is the immediate right step if we in the room want to see it formulate and take action in short order in undertaking readily-available opportunities." He paused. "Recognizing that in order for this work with both public and private engagement, howabout leveraging the private contributions into matches by the public sector. We'd double if not triple the money on hand in the bank. It also gives us all and others time to strategize how they will come up with their respective financial attachments to the larger goals of the bank itself."

Jovis listened to the Tagmatine's response to the treaty in relations to animal and plant species protection. He nodded in agreement. "As hard as it may be for me to agree with my counterpart, particularly as we are still getting used to more regular diplomatic engagement, "I know the Praetor and the Senate would want such protections inserted into whatever final treaty were to be submitted for their consideration."

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Talya was quiet while the Tagmatine and Rihan representatives spoke at length about their concerns and praise for the proposal Queen Julia had put before them. She at first waited to see if the Bulgenstazi emissary had any comments and seeing that he was still looking at the document before them, Shoshan proceeded. She had taken the time to read the treaty in the intervening period.

"The State is prepared to be an active partner in this effort," she said, "we've already begun the process to decarbonize our energy and in due time, transportation. There is very little else I could add to the accord short of echoing the suggestions brought by Narses." She adjusted herself. "As the Setgvek stresses, we are responsible for our world's condition, to be stewards of its beauty - an exacting charge placed in the Great Book," looking to the Tagmatine.

"Though I cannot personally approve the treaty, I am more than happy to present it to the Prime Minister for him to bring before the Knesset for approval. However, I can provide the same academic and technical assistance Ambassador Anaka has already present, the combined brainpower of Asher Katz University of Ayalon and the National Institute of Technology in Harel are ready to be engaged."

"We may not have sufficient funds to invest much into the green bank at the beginning but I am willing to make the case to Prime Minister Lasker to put aside funds for it once the present situation in Samarria is calmer. That land could use considerable conservation and careful stewardship."

She looked around the room. "I think it is fair to say that everyone is by and large in agreement of the terms in principle, but in the end, its about enforcement, target setting, and monitoring."

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Having listened to the various people around the table Julia scribbled down a few things as they spoke. 

"If I can first address the comments of our @Tagmatium Rules guest." she turned her body to face Narses. "I think we can accomodate some kind of permanent body, be that a Council or liason group, call it what you will. Maybe we can make the Institute I suggest making have a multi-national team of researchers but each nations team lead by a person appointed by their government. That institute could have a permanent HQ somewhere, I'd be happy to find a place in Thale if need be. They could then be kept informed of the latest research and this could mean we have a very well informed council of sorts capable of reacting to situations that require attention." She paused for a moment, "Now as I think the best approach is a target driven treaty it makes it hard to include anything about protecting specific animals or plants. However I think in a roundabout way thats taken care of. For example by creating extra woodland that creates new habitats, by cutting down things such as ocean acidity that means habitats such as coral reefs will be protected and thus ensure life thrives. Plastic is a great killer of wildlife and cutting that down will protect many species. Now that doesn't mean we can't do more. Another idea I've had bouncing around is the creation of a kind of international agreement on animal protection, perhaps even creating a NGO to investigate and tackle the trade in endangered species. That is maybe something if you have an interest too that we can create together in addition to this. I just felt specific targets on animals would be difficult to create in a manner that all nations could be monitored and scrutinised." She hoped her explanation had satisfied the representative. 

 

She next turned to the @Rihan representative. "It is my hope we see lots of larger companies and wealthy individuals keen to cement a legacy helping us. However I think tying a commitment of nations to match fund or even go further and multiply the contributions of private donors could be problematic. If we have less wealthy nations sign up then would it be fair to place this burden upon them while they are also trying to fulfil the targets. I think however perhaps we should all commit to some kind of GDP linked percentage being a minimal annual contribution, I'd be open to any suggestions on that front." Julia gazed at the others hoping for some suggestions on that front. 

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Anaka wanted to interject as he felt the Queen did not exactly understand what he said before. "I wasn't attempting to mandate a country match a private contribution, I was merely stating that private citizens may be in a far better position to help capitalize the green bank you're recommending in the short term and then nations can then use their momentum to lead towards making their own investments. Now, if you want to consider a GDP based approach in determining contribution levels, that your expectations aren't unrealistic."

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Talya had little to add to the conversation. She just wanted the gathered parties to sign the proposal the Queen had given to them. "I do want us to come away from this session with a signed accord, yes, it is not fully extensive (referring to the point raised by the Tagmatine representative), nor does it have a firm idea on how some of the items will be funded (dancing around the words of her Rihannsu counterpart), but it is a solid foundation and something we can start with. After all," she paused, "we're the only ones at the table at the moment - and while the Republic will bring his League peers onboard, I am confident others will join and work with us to improve it further. But please," she began to wrap up her brief remarks, "let's not sit here and pick and nat on items that can be further added down the road. We need something to start with, now. I think we have enough to actually make a commitment today, for the good of the Eurth."

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Julia looked around at the various delegates before turning to the @Rihan delegate, "I think at the moment asking for people to make a perscribbed contribution based purely on their GDP would be a mistake. Some nations who will be members of this agreement will be in a position where they will need to use the funding internally in their own nation. I'd hope nations would however consider making a kind of annual voulentary donation to show their commitment to this. As for how it would be funded." She turned to face towards Talya from @Tikva "As for people funding their commitment to this not everything requires bags of money" she smiled, "Cutting down food waste, I'll give you an example of something we're trying in Morheim, we launched a mobile phone app where if you have some food your not planning on using you take a photo of it, post it on the app and anyone in your local area can message you and claim it. It cost our government nothing but has seen for example some smaller baking companies giving locals the about to go stale bread at the close of the day, they get put on the app and someone uses them, as such its less food going to waste. Will it help us reduce food waste by 50%, of course not, but its a start and it costs nothing to do. A lot of the targets can be moved towards with simple measures such as that or just clever legislation. Reducing plastics, ban certain types of packaging, green spaces in urban areas you can achieve by insisting new developments feature gardens such as a roof top garden or something. We then pass the responsibility onto construction companies not just ourselves. I'm excited to see what ideas the general public of Morheim come up with if they know the government are likely to support good ideas." She was rather positive about how all this was going. "So unless there are any further questions, suggestions for an edit or additions then would people like me to prepare a signing ceremony?" 

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Narses nodded. Whilst he had certainly been given the authorisation to sign the treaty on behalf of the Agios Basileos kai Autokrator, he knew that most other representatives here would not have been given quite the free rein that he had been. Most of the others would likely have to put it before their monarchs, presidents or parliaments before they were able to put the treaty into action. It could conceivably put Julia's plans on hold for some time, even as forward thinking as they were.

“OPEC could possibly be an issue, I will admit. They are at the moment a somewhat disparate body and much of the oil Arhomaneia comes from northern Europa, not southern.” The cleric scratched at his beard for a moment, thinking a bit about the possible repercussions. He knew that the Epistrategaion had certainly made contingency plans for a disrupted oil trade and that there were large reserve supplies but it would obviously be better to not have to use them. “It is a shame that none of those five nations could have attended this conference. It would probably make life in the future easier for everyone concerned if they had.”

He was somewhat surprised at the Rihannsu delegate's seeming hostility towards him. He had hoped that all of the parties here would be able to put aside their historical differences for such an important moment in history. One that might safeguard the future of the world. But, the minister-priest guessed that that may well have been naïve of him, after all. He was enough of a man of the world that he knew that people could often nurse their grudges. Even when the good of the world was at stake. It wasn't something that he would allow to put his nose out of joint, however.

“I suspect that the council will have to be something that we give long consideration to,” Narses said, nodding his head in the direction of the Rihannsu delegate. “It could be a great force for change within the world, or it could get our great work bogged down.”

He shrugged, having seemingly undermined his own idea. It probably wasn't something to get overly concerned with right now and the Arhomaios knew that there would be many within the Agios Megas Basileia who would likely take offence to any suggestion that any barbaroi might have a genuine say in the affairs of the greatest nation on Eurth. That would take some getting over, he imagined. Kommodos may not be able to ignore that, although spinning it as a step needed to make sure that God's Eurth was still as pristine as the day it was created. Well, so long as He didn't take too close a look at some parts.

The Rihannsu was insisting that private contributions be taken into account regarding the bank, and Narses had raised his own suggestions before. Ultimately, it would likely be a good thing but the signatories would have to make sure that each other government didn't use this as an opportunity to attempt to get around their own contributions.

“I'm glad that you agree with me about the animals, Ambassador,” replied the Megas Logothetes brightly, apparently ignoring the Rihannsu's impolite wording, at least on the surface. “My government would likely request the same conditions added to the treaty.”

Minister Shoshan leant her full backing behind the treaty and used the same justification that Arhomaneia did, that of human's being God's stewards on Eurth. It was certainly a shame that no other Christian, albeit heretical ones, had come to this treaty. The Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion had hoped that @Sancti Imperii Catholico would attend and in their place was the nation that shared the island with them. One that had... prickly relations with Arhomaneia. That, however, didn't really matter, as @Bulgenstaz was demonstrating that they had the same motivations as the Arhomaioi when it came to the climate.

“Similar to both Ambassador Anaka and Minister Shoshan, I can offer the minds of Arhomaneia's universities to the ends of our noble goal,” the Megas Logothetes stated. “However, I'll admit that offering it is one thing, getting them to cooperate entirely willingly is quite another. I was once an academic and I know how hard that might be. Nonetheless, I imagine that pooling our resources like this will boost the progress and the speed that we make – I'm sure that it will turn out that we are working down the same lines and that there are things that were obvious to some and not to others. This will help to bring us all towards our goal of weaning our nations, and the Eurth, off of the use of oil, and other environmentally-damaging products.”

Like concrete, Narses thought. He'd read statistics that suggested that the building material was the third most used item on Eurth, after water and oil. And one of the most carbon dioxide-producing things, too. The combined research power of the governments and nations that signed the treaty would have their work cut out trying to tackle both oil and concrete.

“Your majesty, I think your suggestions will go some way to allaying the fears of my government and people,” Narses responded. “And NGO or IGO would mean that we could see better what precisely the human impact has had on plants and animals. I'll admit that I don't necessarily agree with you that protecting forests or helping them recover, for example, will mean that animals are protected or recover themselves. But, for the sake of getting your treaty closer to being signed, I will agree to looking again at this issue after we have done so.”

The idea of the Morheimian waste food app was a very good one and Narses squirrelled the idea away to suggest to the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion himself. Hopefully, they'd not heard of it and that there might be some way of getting over any copyrights or intellectual property over it. It would be considered bad faith to entirely steal it, after all.

“There are possibly things that we have not yet considered, your majesty, that we might if we keep discussing.” That sounded like he was going to throw a spanner in the works and Narses wondered if a look of horror might pass over the queen's face. He didn't drag out the pause before the next sentence. He was not a cruel man and the queen was trying to get the world to a better future, after all. “However, I feel that we can tackle these once the treaty has been signed. I, as representative of the Agios Basilikon Kounsistorion, have no qualms about signing the treaty.”

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Having listened to @Tagmatium Rules delegate Narses speak Julia thought for a moment, "Well I have a suggestion maybe when it comes to people signing the treaty" she began to explain, "Those of us in the position such as my own will sign the treaty and that means as of the moment we've signed it we're committing our nations to do everything reasonable to hit these targets. Those of you in a position similar to yourself can sign it "in principle" it means your publically throwing your support behind the treaty which will hopefully send a message to your homelands that this is something we should be doing. It also then means your capable of placing it before whatever individual or body needs to approve it." She hoped this would be acceptable. "As for things we've not considered please feel free to make any suggestions you think would be worth us following. I can't speak for the others but I'd prefer to get this right first time and I'm in no rush to get things finished if it means we can get a perfect treaty." 

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Tayla listened attentively. She also wanted to at least keep the process moving along, particularly at home. "I can sign the accord in principle but it will ultimately require the Knesset to formally approve it. I wouldn't be here if the Prime Minister didn't think it would pass the floor and there is enough consensus in the Government for having us involved in the process. I am prepared to sign it and allow me to report back on the essentials and what actions we need to take from here."

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Ambassador Jovis Anaka readjusted himself. "The Praetor has made it abundantly clear to the Foreign Ministry to make progress on this and to bring a final proposal before the Senate in Dartha. There is sufficient detail in the proposed language at the moment for me to join my...colleague from Tikva on signing on in principle and submit a formal endorsement and enactment in relatively short order from the august Senate."

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Nikol had spent the meeting weighing the insights of the other representatives at the conference. Truth be told, it was still difficult for her to decide if she was completely subscribed to the terms of the treaty. Among the most direct issues was the reality of the economy of Bulgenstaz, in the over-reliance on fossil fuels as an export. Lvóv believed this issue would ultimately be the deciding factor of how her country would respond to the treaty. Regardless, Nikol Het Lvóv felt affirmation of the current treaty would be best for the time being, at least until the Bulgenstazi bureaucracy made their decision.

"While I cannot speak for the Prime Minister's final decision, especially given upcoming elections, as the representative of the People's Ministry of Conservation, I approve of much of the plans currently proposed. However, I am curious as to how we address the economic structure of the oil producing countries, particularly those whose economies are particularly dependent on oil for export. There are many countries I can think of, especially those in OPEC, who would be severely impacted by the shift in oil demand. While I cannot speak for them, I feel I must address my concerns for these countries. Regardless, I have little doubt Bulgenstaz can, and will, adapt to the shift in world oil demand, and I will sign the treaty in hopes of later confirmation by my homeland."

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