Geography of the COP

There are three main official venues at this COP: the Moon Palace, largest hotel in Latin America (where all the official meetings and sub-meetings take place), the Cancunmesse, and the Climate Village.

All rather far apart from each other.

So this morning I caught a COP bus from my hotel to the Cancunmesse, a bunker-like convention and exhibition centre stuck in the jungle about 20 minutes from Cancun’s hotel zone. (The hotel zone is vast – it takes 45 minutes to drive from one to the other, uninterrupted gargantuan hotel complexes. Imagine 30 Sun Citys stuck end-to-end on a strip of land between lagoon and sea, and you get the idea.)

Normally it takes 20 mins to get from the hotel to the Cancunmesse, but because of the checkpoints for the COP, the traffic was crawling for nearly 10 kilometres, and the journey in fact took an hour. Then, from the Cancunmesse (this is how the COP transport works) one has to catch another bus, backtracking, to the Moon Palace.

The Mexicans must be cursing us – part of the highway has been shut down for COP traffic only.

Because there is a limited no. of seats at the opening plenary, where I am now sitting waiting for proceedings to commence, access is by special tickets which are allocated in limited numbers to NGOs. I have received one through the good graces of the WCC.

I spotted the table for the SA delegation here in the plenary room, but 15 mins before it was due to start, there was as yet no-one there. But they might well have more important things to do than attend the opening plenary, which is basically ceremonial.

The Moon Palace is filled with other meeting rooms, to host the various different working groups of the COP.

These working groups tend to have their shadow NGO counterparts – groups of NGOs working and lobbying around issues particular to different aspects of the negotiations.

The Cancunmesse is where civil society meets, talks and lobbies, so far as I can see. I’m not sure to what extent the pink badge holders (official delegates) bother to hang out there, if at all.

I’ve had email this morning from a Burundian senator, whom I hope to meet up with later at the Cancunmesse. It’s not clear to me at all how much time I will spend at the Moon Palace this week – but presumably there are some meetings and discussion of particular relevance to Africa (such as adaptation), that it might be useful to observe.

But my basic quest is to pick other observer’s brains, and to find out when, where and how, observers can have a real influence here. Yesterday, at the Climate Adaptation Network meeting I attended, people were certainly speaking as if they have influence. I’m fascinated to find out just how much.

As for the Climate Village – I’ve not been there yet. I suspect it’s a corporate showcase place – a greenwash centre. It’s sponsored by car and cement companies amongst others…

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