Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 12th, 12:39 AM CET

Morten's Apartment

Our first full day in Copenhagen was exhilarating. Julia and Olivia participated in the Flood, a march involving a few thousand participants that walked from Klimaforum to a square in the city, on the way to the Bella Center (the conference center for the COP). Following a few speakers, the rally moved into its second part, the Global Day of Action, and they continued their march to the negotiations - one of thousands of actions held in cities worldwide. Anywhere from 30,000 (according to the city of Copenhagen) to 100,000 (according to the protest organizers) people participated, with 900 arrested by police. We'll hear more from their perspective a bit later.

I got up early to beat the crowds to the Bella Center, but security still took 30 minutes to clear. I spent the next half-hour before opening plenary wandering around and familiarizing myself with the conference space. First impressions: it's incredibly open, airy, and quite beautiful. It has been greatly expanded from the original center with pre-fab buildings and temporary spaces, which gives it a very modern, minimalist feel. Large trees, skylights, installation artwork, and welcoming couches and cafes makes it a very pleasant place to be. It's definitely bustling with people, but has yet to become overcrowded.

Opening plenary was fascinating. Connie Hedegaard, President of the Conference, moved discussion along concerning which issues should be addressed in subcommittees and which issues need the participation and input of all members and will therefore be decided in plenary. Financial measures, binding mechanisms, and monitoring/verification methods will all most likely be addressed in plenary. Tuvalu spoke first about fears that current actions on the table would not be enough to curb the damaging effects of climate change. The delegate actually came to tears concerning the possible future for his island nation. It garnered a round of applause from an otherwise dispassionate audience, though to me came off as rather theatrical.

It's as of yet unclear what progress is allegedly being made in the smaller breakout committees. They're often closed or at least unlisted in the daily schedule, so one has to find them either by word of mouth or by scouring the marquee screens with room assignments and updated schedules. Dr. Joanna Lewis of Georgetown University, our most helpful pre-conference contact and fellow delegation member, has arrived today, and hopefully will help us get connected. Kathryn arrived in the early afternoon, and together we began our surveys and interviews. More to come on that later.

Currently everyone in the apartment is asleep, so I'll take that as my cue to sign off for now. Tomorrow (Sunday) there are no negotiations, so I'll spend the day exploring the city (i.e., writing a term paper) and perhaps posting a few videos, including Climate Action Network's Fossil of the Day Award and my interview with Tom Polzin with Center for Clean Air Policy (and Georgetown alum).

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds amazing, Jessie, looking forward to reading about your whole experience. Also I'm curious: what are people saying about Obama? Do they think he's legit, i.e. will be able to follow up on promises?

    When you all get back next semester, hit up EcoAction. We'd love to host a "panel of student experts" with you four and (actual expert) Prof. Lewis.