UNFCCC and Mexico Organize a “Scatter Plot” for COP16 Attendees

November 29, 2010

Green Media News was established last year for the purpose of following the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen and raising the bar of intelligent debate in America around climate change and other complex issues. One of the things I found most disappointing about the COP15 talks in Copenhagen last year was how the UNFCCC officials treated the NGO delegates like second-class citizens, even barring NGO delegates from attending the final 2 days of the talks.

I can’t be in Cancun for COP16 but some incredibly talented citizen-bloggers are there right now. The following is an excerpt from one such blogger’s adventures as originally posted on Daily Kos earlier today:

While almost everyone attending COP16 hopes to fast track and ensure real solutions, spending two hours trapped on a bus with participants heading to the Cancunmesse gives me a rare opportunity to chat with someone with an alternative point of view.

The traffic jam on the Cancun-Chetumal road starts immediately as the Number 2 bus crosses the bridge from the luxurious Hotel Zone to merge onto the main road towards the Cancun Airport.  It’s 8:30 am on Day 1 of COP16 — rush hour in Cancun — and the bus is almost full of negotiators, NGOs and press, all eager to easily segue through security screening at Cancunmesse and hop on an early shuttle to the Moon Palace Opening ceremony.

As we look out at a seamless caravan of cars, vans, large trucks and flat backs in a syncopated virtual standstill, it’s obvious that their hopes are in serious jeopardy.

Already, a new and unexpected wrinkle has appeared in the puzzle of COP16. In its planning of this Conference of the Parties, the Mexican government designed the two-week event utilizing a ‘scatter plot,’ hosting the NGOs at the Messe, some seven miles from the Hotel Zone and the official UNFCCC talks at the Moon Palace, 4 miles from the Messe and only accessible via shuttle from the Messe.  All this, some say, to safeguard against the co-mingling of UNFCCC officials, NGOS, climate activists and the local population which characterized last December’s COP15 talks in Copenhagen.

Apparently, they didn’t consider how to transport delegates in a timely manner to participate in talks along a highway already bloated with local traffic.

Read the entire Daily Kos article by Deborah Phelan here.

Commentary in Simple Terms for People Who Care:

TckTckTck says be patient with the process, and they’ve effectively mobilized 17 million people, so I want to be more patient. But when I hear about the United Nations creating these “separate but equal” accommodations for NGOs and keeping concerned citizens literally miles away from where the action is, it’s easy to start wondering what kind of progress is being made.

From what it sounds like here, and I’m sure on the ground in Cancun, it looks like the COP organizers are taking a page from Plessy v Ferguson. Well here’s a note for the UNFCCC officials: Separate but equal didn’t work here in America. Why the United Nations thinks it’s a good idea for progress is beyond me.

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