So, the Copenhagen summit starts now. It’s been the focus of almost every climate change campaign for the last two years, and now we get to see whether they worked. For the next 14 days, delegations from 192 countries will convene in the Danish city and hammer out what we all hope will be a fair and robust deal for tackling climate change. It will require global cooperation on a level we’ve never seen before, the putting aside of old mistrusts, and a generosity of spirit that transcends national interest. It’s a tall order.
It’s also a major operation. The summit has taken two years to plan. 400 workmen have been on site at the conference centre adding 1,000 km of cable, 9,300 new power sockets, and 5,500 computer workstations. The buildings telecoms have been upgraded and can now handle 25,000 phone calls at once. The chefs estimate they will serve 200,000 meals.
There are 15,000 delegates in attendance, with some countries sending hundreds of people. Although it is the politicians who take the headlines, it is the negotiators who do all the work, choosing from the fortnight’s 2,500 scheduled meetings taking place across 100 different meeting rooms. I only know one name on the UK’s delegation – Jan Thompson, a Foreign Office diplomat and our chief negotiator.
Quite what goes on in all those meetings is a bit of a mystery, but those of us who aren’t there still get to follow along. To find out more about who is representing you and get a more personal angle, visit adoptanegotiator.org and choose your country. The site has appointed ‘trackers’ to follow particular negotiators and post regular updates throughout the conference.
Other ways to follow the talks include BBC correspondent Richard Black’s blog, 350.org, or the COP15 website (COP15 being the rather ungainly official name, ’15th Conference of the Parties to address climate change’).
If the official site is a little staid, try the more irreverent Grist page. Their reporter is Eugene Mirman, who might be a familiar face to fans of Flight of the Conchords.