A Day on the Outside

Wednesday 17 December 2009

I slept in this morning knowing that I wouldn't have a pass to get in! Jasmine and I woke up to the police outside our window, engaged in a crazy chase of protesters. The police were kicking people and running after them. There were helicopters and bus-like police vehicles speeding around. There were sirens galore. At breakfast, all the television screens were covering footage of our hotel – unfortunately it was in Danish so I couldn't understand. One man generously translated for us although it was very generic because I don't think even the news stations knew what was going on!

Today was the big day for protestors, particularly as many of the NGOs were locked out and thus perhaps had more time on their hands.

We heard Brendan Mackey and Jennie Gould from the ANU speak. We are very fortunate to hear from leading experts in their fields! Jennie Gould told me not to have four kids – "any more than two is irresponsible". After the session, I asked Brendan about the role of youth and he was insightful – he said young people can get away with more – they can be more radical and out there and still be part of the dialogue because that is what young people do. I thought that was a really valid point.

I went back upstairs, fussed around and went over to Fields to buy a phone and eat lunch. Back at the hotel lobby, Alexei and I tried unsuccessfully to do some preparation for our presentations tomorrow. Instead, we were tracking the bloggers inside the conference who were reporting that Friends of the Earth had been barred from COP15 and as a result, all NGOs had been barred from COP15. The other NGOs were angry at Friends of the Earth (or at least there was cyber anger!). We listened to Hugo Chavaz's speech/rant on the live stream and heard that my favourite person Connie Hedegaard was resigning. We had previously heard whispers so it was not that surprising. It was also enlightening comparing what the Australian news was reporting on back home and what we perceived was going on here.

One of the posters on the wall at Klimaforum. Klimaforum is the People's Forum during COP15. By the time I went, it had turned into an ad hoc NGO nesting ground since the NGOs had now been officially kicked out of COP15. I could feel the roots of the environmental movement around me. It was less sheek and more gritty than the Bella Centre!

I went into town to the Klimaforum to hear an event about the youth movement in the US Midwest. I interviewed Jesse Tolkan who is one of the leaders of the US youth climate change movement. The side event was run by the Will Steger Foundation which is an organisation which promotes climate change action. A group of young people from the US Midwest form a delegation which goes to COPs. The young people explained why the Midwest is the "purple" region of the US and therefore how crucial it is to be an effective at lobbying Midwestern politicians. Similar to Australia, they are a coal reliant area so it was interesting to hear and compare their opinions on coal mining.

I met up with Phoebe, Alexei, Fern, Will and a new friend from Venezuela and we went to Kebabish for dinner. We went back to the hotel and celebrated Earth Hour in the lobby. I had the opportunity to speak to Rob and Erik for the first time. Everyone has so much knowledge and stories about COP (amongst other things!) to share! We finally decided we had better do some work and turned out attention to writing our presentation slides!

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