#COP16 log from Thursday, Day Four: Scrounging power and wifi

crow flies from Cancun poolWake at 5.30am, breakfast at 6.45. Yesterday it was cloudy and there were frequent rain showers, none on me, today it has cleared. At 7.30am, catch the bus to Cancunmesse (25 mins), during which I read the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, downloaded before my departure, and sift through emails from the CAN-talk mailing list. 7.50 Grab the UNFCCC daily programme (36 pages) while passing through the Cancunmesse, to catch the connecting bus to the Moon Palace. At 8.30, meet with a representative of a big US Christian organisation to discuss possibilities for shifting the climate politics of US Christian communities. Collar a member of the SA delegation and get invited to a delegation briefing at 7pm. Circulate the invitation to civil society colleages. At 11pm, help out Earthlife Africa by chairing the launch of their research report on SA’s petrochemical giant: “Sasol – Profits from Poison”. This morning, 14 of their activists were illegally arrested while protesting the IRP 2010 SA electricity planning process in Midrand near Johannesburg. 11.30 Share with a fellow South African journalist my ignorance of the COP process, and my greater knowledge of the IRP 2010.

12pm: Scrounge power and wifi from vending machine plug embarrassingly close to a women’s loo. 12.50 Catch bus back to Cancunmesse for a SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Assistance) climate science update – which is disappointing: 50% science bureaucracy, 40% ultra high-level and 10% comprehensible: a masterpiece of poor science communication. I send an email on the subject of communications to the Climate Action Network list. 3pm: Scrounge a sandwich. 3.30pm Scrounge power and wifi in an unused conference room, till I begin to freeze: the Mexicans do not know the difference between air-con and refrigeration, or have not been told about thermostats; the World Resources Institute wonk I meet on a 4.40pm bus back to the Moon Palace tells me he nearly froze while serving as a panellist yesterday. 5.30pm: Scrounge power and wifi at Moon Palace. Bump into a SA parliamentarian and chat. 7pm: Attend an SA delegation briefing to all South Africans at the COP. It’s off-the-record, so I cannot report the substance of anything said, but there were no great revelations: “A good outcome is one that leaves everyone unhappy.”  9.20 Get back to hotel.

Other quotes of the day
“All men have a mind which cannot bear to see the sufferings of others. The superior man, having seen the animals alive, cannot bear to see them die; having heard their dying cries, he cannot bear to eat their flesh,” wrote the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius.

For some reason, this struck me more than any other quote I have read on the subject of flesh-eating. We are so quick to deplore the Easterners who fund killing for rhino horn, but I think many men – Western and Eastern – eat meat for similar reasons – it allows them to become more physically imposing. Since I became mostly vegan a few months back, I feel ever less physically imposing.

Noam Chomsky interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, on the US media’s coverage of climate change: “You can see it even in the way the media present it: you read, say, a New York Times discussion of climate change. They have to be objective – present both sides – so one side is 98% of qualified scientists and the other side is Issa and a couple of climate change skeptics. They are missing, if you’ll notice, also a third side – namely, a very substantial number of leading scientists who say that the consensus is nowhere near alarmist enough and in fact the situation is much worse. The United States has been dragging its feet on this for a long time, and it’s now much worse.”

Overheard: “I just want this to be over. I want to be on the flight back.”

COP tips
Arrive early at events so you can plug in your computer. Look for water coolers – there are usually open plug points next to them. And avoid paying for bottled water by filling up from those coolers. The delight of the COP is a certain amount of socialism. Free transport, buses leaving every five minute, free wifi (when it’s working, most of the time it has been). But information is not always so easy to come by. If you don’t recognise a particular foodstuff, the Iron Law of Unrecognised Mexican Food is that it’s always packed with chilli.

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