At the end of the first day, COP 19 threw a party to welcome everyone and give the parties a chance to talk to each other. I went alone because the rest of my team did not feel like going out tonight.
When I walked into the Warsaw University Library, the organizers had lit it with green lights. As I went up the imposing marble stairs, I passed through 4 pillars with statues on the top. (I later learned they were important Polish philosophers). An unnerving spiderweb sculpture took over the entryway.
As I was flying solo, I joined a group from Maine who is representing the American Chemical Society. We were quickly joined by the representative from an unnamed Arab kingdom, who had a hard job advocating small wind and solar projects in a country, he says, that prefers mega projects.
A Polish singer belted a very passionate song. At the end of her set, two acrobats started climbing and doing tricks with aerial silks. They’re called the Ocelot Group.
Following them was a band called Recycling Band, who made their instruments out of empty water coolers and bike gears. Their style was reminiscent of early Radiohead.
Some very serious Southeast Asian delegates made up the front row watching the rock band. They stood there motionless like they were waiting in an elevator. Eventually, with persistence, a representative from the African Climate Initiative persuaded a Bangladeshi representative to dance. It was glorious. I also met the rep from Mozambique and bonded with the whole Bangladeshi delegation in the universal language of dance.
Tomorrow, I will have meetings with Bangledeshi, as well as some of the African delegates. This doesn’t translate directly to the issues I’m tracking (safeguards with results-based finance, mostly REDD+), but they are good contacts nonetheless.
While we were attending a very full day of meetings about agenda topics inside the National Stadium, the people outside marked the November 11 Polish Independence Day with demonstrations.
It is Polish National Day and Warsaw was rioting Far right protesters marched to “denounce the slip of traditional values” and Russia’s role in a plane crash that killed the Polish president in 2010. They tried to torch the Russian consulate. Within our COP 19 bubble, we didn’t notice. It only felt its impact when the buses stopped running. I took a cab from the venue because the streets weren’t safe. It seems like every time I go to a COP there is rioting in the streets…