Natalie Jones: COP19 in 5 photos: first impressions

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of the UN: loosely-structured chaos which often borders on the bizarre. COP is a mixture of the deadly serious and the straight-out hilarious - here are a few key picks from the first two days.

1. 100,000 Polish nationalists 

On Monday, Polish national independence day, the official warning was to be careful and avoid public transport, as groups of "football fans" could be roaming the city. In reality, this translated into riots involving tear gas, helicopters and stun grenades. Ironically enough, however, none of this took place inside the conference venue - a football stadium. 

2. Fasting for the climate 

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, lead negotiator for the Philippines Yeb Sano in his opening speech went off-script to announce he will be fasting throughout the talks until there is a "meaningful outcome". Today, civil society launched an international solidarity fast. Emotions have been running high (and blood sugar low) throughout the conference centre.

3. A dance party ... in a library  

Upon walking into the university library, expecting a quiet prep session, the scene more closely resembled a rave.  In fact, this was the official welcome reception, complete with a rock band formed from recycled instruments and, later, a country covers band. Thanks to the UNFCCC, I can now check dancing with negotiators from Panama and Sudan  off my bucket list. 

4. The voices of future generations

A big issue for the youth constituency is intergenerational equity - the idea that the decision-makers of today holds power over the lives of future generations. Today in the youth intervention (a.k.a. 2 minute speech) the speaker took 15 precious seconds to put tape across her mouth, representing the voice of future generations. (Congrats to our own Saskia for being involved!) Look out for more, similar actions in the next few days. 

5. Engraved apples 

Apples. Engraved with the COP19 logo. No, I am not kidding. And no, they don't turn brown - a clear sign of too many chemicals. Yum. These freaky creations epitomise the surrealness of this situation: this is the UN, and they hand out engraved. apples.

Stay tuned. I don't know too much about what's coming, but I do know this: It's going to get weirder.


All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.

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