With the UN climate talks in Paris now at the critical point, science reporter Jamie Morton has been speaking to a range of people on climate-related issues.

In this final interview of the Herald's Climate of Hope series, he catches up with former Canterbury University researcher Dr Daniel Price, whose 10,000 km odyssey as part of the Pole to Paris climate change awareness campaign has taken him from Antarctica to COP21.

At the Eiffel Tower, he was this month re-united with friend Erlend Moster Knudsen, whose leg of the campaign stretched from Norway to France.
Q. The last time we spoke you were cycling across Australia. Walk me through the rest of your trip.

The rest of the trip involved journeying through 17 more countries and putting in 10,000 km on the bike.

From Australia I moved onto Indonesia.


This was all a little daunting at first heading out across Bali toward Java, alone on a bicycle, but the smiles and kindness of the people carried me along for hundreds of kilometres towards Jakarta.

The Pole to Paris campaign rallied with the United Nations Development Program, held an event with the Environment Ministry, and had 500 people take to the streets on bikes with us in Jakarta.

We were able to deliver a speech to the Indonesian government demanding improved policy on mitigating climate change.

From Indonesia, south east Asia was next on the list.

After crossing the Java Sea on a ferry, I shot across Singapore, up the coast of the Malacca Straits through Malaysia and up to Thailand.

I gave many talks in Bangkok at events with the British and French Embassies, and also made multiple TV appearances which helped spread the message to millions.

In Bangladesh, we were contracted by UNDP to put together a documentary on sea level rise.

About 30 million people live within one vertical meter of the Bay of Bengal, meaning that the country is seriously threatened by rising seas.


After an intense three weeks working there with 3 News reporter Adrien Taylor and two very talented young New Zealanders who carried out the filming, Samuel Walls and Michael Roberts, China was on.

From southern China, I was joined by two friends and we made our way toward Beijing doing talks along the way.

The air quality situation in China was shocking and the pollution in Beijing was appalling.
Upon cycling in we could barely see a kilometer down the street.

However despite the smog, we were fortunate enough to witness a rare event.

The Chinese were holding a parade to commemorate the end of World War 2 and, given this would attract international attention, they had to improve the air quality issue.

They closed many power plants and restricted traffic by about half.

After a couple of days the smog lifted and you could see the sky - a truly rare occasion.

About 1.6 million deaths are attributed to pollution in China each year, so Chinese fossil fuel dependence has ramifications beyond climate change.

These additional consequences of using fossil fuels should be highlighted.

The fact that they are dirty, that they kill millions via the health complications they cause is a very serious issue.

The right to breathe clean air should not be overlooked.

From Beijing, we crossed the Gobi Desert to Ulan Bator in Mongolia.

Here I was forced to get the train as I wasn't able to get a Russian tourist visa.

I jumped back on the bike in eastern Europe and headed south toward the Alps.

After 11,000 metres of climbing and two weeks, I came out the other side in France.

Then was the last dash across the French countryside to meet Erlend in Paris last week.

Q. What did Erlend have to do to get to Paris?

Erlend undertook one hell of mission to get to Paris.

He departed Tromso on foot in early August and from there he ran unsupported through the hills of Norway.

In the end, he covered just shy of 2000 kilometres, holding talks in schools, community centres and universities almost every other day.

He endured snow storms in emergency shelters and days alone in the mountains. Erlend took a well-earned break from the running for three weeks after this, but continued giving talks in southern Norway.

The run continued in the UK, but in the form of a community relay.

From Edinburgh to London, people joined us for runs of anything from 10km to 60km. A baton was carried holding a petition to the UK government to improve its position on renewable energy support and development.

Erlend rejoined the run in Cambridge before the petition was delivered to Downing Street.

After the UK mainland Europe was the final leg, from Brussels to Paris.

By this stage Erlend's body was giving out and he had to take painkillers across Northern France to continue running.

He made it into Paris and on the final day we met in Champs des Mars by the Eiffel Tower to round up the journeys.

The job wasn't done though. Since the arrival we have been presenting at COP21, bringing the voices of the people we met along the way.

We've attempted to put faces to the abstract issue of climate change, and to present the personal stories beyond the unfolding changes to our planet.

Q. Do you believe the message behind the campaign got through?

It is very difficult to assess the success of a project like this - how do you even begin to do that? Facebook likes and Twitter followers.

They are metrics, but what do they really mean?

The most important thing is that society begins to realize the urgency of the situation we are in.

I think by providing a narrative to follow and grafting it onto the topic of climate change in order to present the story in a new way, we have managed to captivate members of the public.

In my opinion every little helps in combating this problem, and every single person that becomes engaged is a step in the right direction.

If people can be inspired to join this movement, they can then pull in others and hopefully things will begin to snowball.

We have to go so far, and so fast, that we are going to need as many people as possible.

Q. What's next? Do you have any more plans around climate awareness?

What's next depends on what happens here and what the result of COP21 is.

To me, there is so much uncertainty.

Even if the best case scenario of 1.5C is met with legally binding frameworks, how will they be enforced? What penalties will there be for failure?

How will countries be penalized for not meeting targets?

Is our monitoring of actual emissions good enough?

The world should be talking about the establishment of a monitoring and enforcement agency on greenhouse gas emissions.

If we're to get where we need to be, this must become a component of the UNFCCC.

You are seriously out of touch with reality if you think certain countries will pursue this without the threat of significant penalties.

But the wonderful thing to me is we are already seeing change at the lower levels, people getting out ahead of politicians and beginning change now.

In terms of civil society, it's all about motivation.

We have to ensure the movement grows and doesn't lose its momentum.

Everyone, from individuals, to local councils, to regional government, to international frameworks have a role to play.

I personally believe a huge component of addressing this issue will come from small communities coming together to make changes at the local scale.

Small steps from the bottom combined with focused international management and cooperation from the top.

What Paris must ensure is that it sends a clear signal that this change is going to happen and if you don't take part, you will be left behind.

That is vital to provide the investments, business confidence and structure to build a global renewable energy economy.

The stakes really couldn't be higher here and no matter what happens, this will be looked back on as a pivotal moment in human history.

I hope we will find the courage and muster the ambition required to get this right.

• Jamie Morton travelled to Paris with the support of the NZ Science Media Centre and the Morgan Foundation.