In my last columns, I have described the technicalities of the COP; getting into the conference, badges, what kind of group we are and so on. I want to express what we’ve been hearing and seeing in order to convey the optimism and pessimism that is here at the COP. For example, many people at the COP are looking optimistically for some kind of agreement on climate change to be done in Cancun; however, most countries and organizations know that this will not be a binding agreement, and others think there will be no agreement at all.
It is only day three and it feels as if we don’t fully understand what’s going on around us. The scope of this conference is so large it is difficult to fully comprehend the events happening at any given moment. There is only so much a person can do at one time, and I’ve definitely been trying to do it. Long days at the conference are expected; for example on Monday we left our hotel at 8 a.m. and returned that night at 11 p.m. This means that we have a chance to observe a lot each day.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, we have limited access to what’s going on here. While we are able to freely wander around the buildings where the events are held, we are restricted from rooms that are designated for official negotiations and events that allow press-access only. Consequently, we mostly attend AWG (Ad-Hoc Working Group) and SB (Subsidiary Body) meetings and side events. The AWG and SB meetings can run for hours, whereas the side events last between one to two and a half hours. While the negotiating process is very interesting, and there are always new perspectives that we can learn from, the majority of the group and myself have been spending time at side events. It is at these events that we are able to have a connection with the people who are speaking.
On the other hand, we do like to challenge ourselves to see if we can speak with highly ranked officials within the COP, or within their own organizations. At the first night’s reception, I was able to have a conversation with the AWG-LCA Chair Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe about her expectations of the conference, the current and future roles of the United States and Youth Organizations at the COP. During a bus ride home, another member of our delegation unexpectedly sat next to the leader of the African Group and had a conversation with him. Her story is linked here on our partner’s website.
Yesterday, we attended a 350.org side event where the founder of the group, Bill McKibben, was speaking. Mr. McKibben and others spoke on the necessity of scientific targets in climate policy, and gave us data on climate change. We were able to speak to him afterwards, and the video at the top is of the discussion, along with this link.
Remember to check back tomorrow for more thoughts on COP16, and be sure to check our other blogs here at TC Daily Planet as well as at the Institute on the Environment’s Eye on Earth blog.
P.S.: We have a Twitter account we’d like for you to follow: COP16UofM