We're at the end of the first week here at COP19, and there's one week to go. So much has been packed into this week - but here are some of the highlights, or at least those I've managed to photograph. Things I wish I had a photo of: a walkout, an inflatable dinosaur, a 7-hour-long youth meeting (don't ask, just, don't), and the incredible vegan burger I ate yesterday.
1. Civil society marches for climate justice
A crowd of more than 3000 marched from the Palace of Culture and Science - coincidentally, also known as "Stalin's Syringe" or "the Elephant in Lacy Underwear" - to the conference venue, the National Stadium. I estimate the police-protester ratio at around 1:5 - but even they didn't know what to do with the gigantic globe rolling down the street.
2. A convergence space for youth
This is a former squat, re-purposed into a climate activist space where youth can work during non-conference hours (which, let's be honest, are not many). It's gorgeously old and grand and decrepit. The vibe is welcoming, friendly and inspiring. It's complete with a tea station, boxes of (non-branded) apples, and deckchairs. Essentially, it's the exact opposite of the conference centre, and I think many wish they could spend all their time here.
Or, at the very least, we wish that the negotiators could also see this place, witness the stark difference in environment, and feel a little more human inside.
3. Here is a sample of what my conference day actually looks like ...
Here, youth were preparing for a meeting with Martin Khor, director of the South Centre. Meeting rooms vary quite a lot in terms of layout, but I think this picture accurately represents the general vibe of the conference centre.
4. The NGO party
Each year Climate Action Network hosts a party. Said party has quite a reputation of general awesomeness. Question: is this reputation justified? Answer: Yes. Yes yes yes. The clincher? This photo was taken at 3 am.
Coincidentally, 3 am was also about the time the SBSTA plenary (one particular workstream of the talks) finally wrapped up for the day, after hours of intense last-minute discussion - leaving time for the negotiators and youth involved to still join the party. Only at COP.
5. A strategically-placed coal plant
Every morning the tram to the stadium crosses the river, and every morning I am reminded that everything we do here in Warsaw is powered by coal. I'm not sure that the stacks in the distance are a coal plant, but I strongly suspect so as I know there are three such plants in Warsaw alone.
Coal continues to be on everyone's minds, and exerts a somewhat depressing influence over the talks. Tomorrow the Coal Summit begins - essentially a forum for coal apologists and proponents of carbon capture technologies. However, I and many others prefer this simple adage: Leave It In The Ground. To stay within our carbon budget, we simply can't burn all or even most of our existing reserves.
On that happy note, I will say good night. Stay tuned ...
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