The first week of talks is over at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, and my brain is mushy. It’s not from margaritas — what’s spinning me around is the political web of the talks, the freakishly high stakes, and how long it takes to get to the conference from downtown Cancun. The logistics of the conference are both frustrating its progress and creating new dialogues, while the world waits with bated breath for real solutions that will stem the onset of catastrophic climate change. Read on for our exclusive report straight from Cancun!
On the first day of COP16, I spent two and a half hours in traffic en route to the official venue in a bus with two African party delegates. I wasn’t the only one behind schedule. Walking into the Moon Palace Hotel, it was easy to get excited by the plenary statements of India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and others. They voiced their hope for commitment and compromise. Even the United States declared that “We are extremely eager to make progress here in Cancun.” But, of course, there’s more going on than the sound bites reveal. During the following press conference, applause only broke out once, for a journalist who complained about transportation: “Every hour we spend in traffic is an hour less we spend working, an hour less we spend on coverage.” Clap clap clap.
The response of COP President Patricia Espinosa Cantellano: “We are going to do our best.”