COP-shock: my first day at the UN’s conference on climate change

I’ve (Chloe Hampson) been passed on the COP baton from Keith as I join the INTO (International National Trust Organisation) delegation at COP 22, which this year is in Marrakech.

Like Keith, I’m going out there on behalf of National Trust (England, Wales & N.Ireland) to share and sponge information on how heritage and cultural organisations are being impacted by and coping with climate change. I’m also there with my Fit for the Future Network hat on and interested in seeing what the rest of the world is up to with regards to sustainable energy.

Spot the Caucasian. Jokes aside, this tribe from Malaysia are losing their home and cultural heritage as a result of deforestation, these costumes are made from palm tree bark

Spot the Caucasian. Jokes aside, this tribe from Malaysia are losing their home and cultural heritage as a result of deforestation, these costumes are made from palm tree bark

I’d love to say that I’ve spent the first day getting into the nitty gritty, making useful connections and picking up resources, but I would be lying. I have spent most of the day wondering around in a daze trying to make sense of it all, it’s overwhelming. The shock of it all is probably not helped by the fact I have spent the last week trekking in the Atlas Mountains where I saw more goats than people (more on mountain farming in another blog). Just yesterday I was at the top of Mount Toubkal, the ranges’ highest peak.

COP22 is a shock to the system after a week in the mountains

COP22 is a shock to the system after a week in the mountains

Post-holiday reality check or not, the conference is vast; it took nearly an hour to get through security this morning and I have never seen so many different nationalities of people in one setting, everything from Malaysian jungle tribes to Saudi Arabian men in thobes (I studied anthropology at Uni and still have a huge soft spot for it so am absolutely loving the people watching and meeting). Almost every country has their own pavilion, decked out with all their best climate change plan credentials and showing off their projects. I haven’t yet been round the whole (COP) world, but if it was a competition (which let’s be honest, it is), India’s pavilion would win. The production on it is insane! As well as a spinning globe, some mutli-coloured sliding curtains and an enormous screen the length of at least a tennis court, they also have water droplets which when they fall spell out various words, such as ‘smart cities’. The EU tent and Indonesia pavilion are joint first so far in the ‘best free food and drink’ category; juices, coca colas, pastries and other delights are laid out at the end of each event, of which there are dozens and dozens throughout the day. On top of the free event food, there are four extra restaurant pavilions, one of them with its own security guards and offering multi-coursed banquets.

India’s pavilion, the photo doesn’t do it justice!

India’s pavilion, the photo doesn’t do it justice!

It’s all extremely impressive, but has made me wonder how much all of this costs, both in pounds (or whatever currency you deal with) and carbon. And is it all really necessary? It is only day one and yes I am a bit dazed by it all, and yes before you wander I do see the benefit of collaborating and networking, but there is still a part of me that finds the size and production of the conference at odds with subject it is trying to tackle: how to live within a 1.5 degree world.

If you want another account of COP22 then read Oliver’s blog on the INTO website: https://intoorg.org/26815

 

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One Response to COP-shock: my first day at the UN’s conference on climate change

  1. Pingback: COP22: Final reflections, lessons learned and highlights from my first COP experience | National Trust Places

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