Monday, December 7, 2009

Opening Day at the UNFCCC COP 15

Not too surprisingly, this was mainly a day for our delegation (along with many other delegations) to get oriented.  There was a block-long line of NGO representatives waiting to register outside.  Inside, registration was also a bit complicated. One woman from Gambia was a bit disappointed as her delegation list wasn’t here – apparently some lists are still in Bonn. We were lucky, although not entered, our delegation list was physically present, and we were registered within a few minutes after getting to the front of the line.

By 2:30 most of us were accounted for.   Soon we were headed off to the City Hall for the formal welcoming reception with the mayor of Copenhagen and Yvo de Boer. They gave the opening remarks before a concert.  Hopefully, sound files will soon be posted!

In the town square, there is a large interactive globe, and for every “act of hope” registered around the world, a symbol (green pushpin) appears and goes to that spot in the world.  There’s also a Christmas tree that is lit up with energy-saving lightbulbs powered by bicyclists.  With standard bulbs, it used to take 500 bicyclists to light the tree; only 15 cyclists are necessary now. Copenhagen has been renamed “Hopenhaven” for the next two weeks. Visitors can also visit the “future city exhibit” which highlights different activities cities around the world are taking to reduce emissions – everything from encouraging bicycling in Mexico City to electric powered police cars in London.  Here in Copenhagen, 37% of the residents bike to work, and there are free bikes available to the COP 15 participants if we want to “go local.”

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