The name of our negotiator at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen this fortnight is Jan Thompson. She is very private and a woman, so The Guardian finds itself talking more about her red patent boots than her political position.
Luckily she is being tracked by somebody more communicative. Her name is Anna and she’s from Warrington. She’s one of many youth climate activists who have adopted a negotiator at the behest of Global Climate Action, meet with them, shadow them and are relaying their actions to us. They exist to keep Copenhagen negotiators connected to the populations they represent. Far from all of the 192 countries at the summit have trackers, but some of the biggest emitters do including China, the US and India.
It sounds like Anna is struggling to stay positive:
“It’s been 6 months now since I ‘adopted you’ and today I set off for Copenhagen. I can hardly believe time has passed so quickly.
Before I start my journey, before we all return to the UN, and before the craziness and seemingly inevitable frustration sets in I wanted to take this time to write to you.
Over the last 6 months I have developed a much deeper understanding of the way the UNFCCC works. 6 months ago in Bonn I was fresh to this, eager and if the truth be known probably a little naive. As time has passed and we have been through Bangkok and Barcelona, as the process has developed and Copenhagen drawn ever closer, you know, I have often become frustrated. I have grown weary of the process, tired and often overwhelmed by it all. I’m sure at points you have felt all these things too. At times it maybe seemed you did.
Often when we meet at the UN the intensity of the situation, the long hours we are all working and the simple hugeness of the task in hand brings all these emotions to the surface for me. I know that’s true for my friends at the UN as well, and I’m pretty sure you could say the same for you and many of the other delegates.
That’s why I wanted to take this time to write to you now, before Copenhagen.
I wish sometimes we could meet away from the process, away from the UN, because then you would experience a very different me.
Away from the UN I am laid back and calm. I like to laugh and joke around, most of all I am optimistic, hopeful and happy. I see climate change not just as a challenge but also as the greatest opportunity our generation has ever had.”
Jan replies. The letter made her cry. Which in turn made me cry until I diverted myself with the red patent boots.
Here’s Anna’s collection of pieces about Jan. I now know that Jan hasn’t had a weekend off since the beginning of October. Bless her.
On this first day of the summit, Leela Rainer, tracking the Indian negotiator, has deja vu – same old spiel, different day. There doesn’t seem to be much energy. And the signage is really bad – people are lost and missing their meetings. And there are delegation offices at the conference venue (the Bella Centre), so people aren’t mingling. And fucking hell:
“From the UNFCCC documents to the free bags in the NGO centre, from the Copenhagen bottle to the green raincoat, to the badges, stickers, and posters; it was RAINING freebies and Bella Centre residents were scrambling to get each one to not miss on their COP collection.
If people could have spent even 50 % of that energy putting pressure on the negotiators as they moved around, we might be expecting fireworks by the end of this thing instead of months or a year from now.”
This is a lively, humorous and critical blog about a summit which will probably fail and indirectly kill us all. Read this from Anna trying to negotiate about her future with Jan’s boss.
Update: the front page of the Adopt A Negotiator site has chosen to foreground the most commented posts. These are not reliably the most important posts, but ones like Why Shouldn’t I Date and Annex-1 Guy. For those, look in the top right hand corner for the Recent Entries From: list.