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Postcards from Peru: A diary from the UN climate talks (Days 1 and 2)

 

I’m in Lima for the UN climate talks which run 1-12 December. I’ll be regularly tweeting and blogging. If you find this blog interesting please feel to share it.

DAYS 1-2 (Monday 1 & Tuesday 2 December 2014)

Despite being located in the grounds of an army base, known locally as Pentagonito (or ‘Little Pentagon’ – I presume named after the Pentagon building in the U.S.), accessing and registering for this year’s UN climate talks was pretty straightforward, and certainly much smoother than at previous events I can remember. A good omen for these talks perhaps? One would like to think so anyway.

Inside the fence, on what are usually army parade grounds now stands an enormous temporary tented village that will be working space for the thousands of official delegates, media and observers from civil society that will arrive over the next few days. And, a bit like the many marching practices that would probably occur here, official representatives of the 196 nations of the world have also been going through their own little well drilled moves. First comes the formal hand-over of the gavel – in this case from Poland (the venue of the last talks) to Peru. Then nations begin setting out their opening negotiation positions.

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For observers like me, the pattern is usually the same for the first couple of days too. First find your bearings – the sprawling site with its endless meeting rooms, booths and pressrooms needs mastered quickly if you are to be able to find anyone in a hurry.

Second find a desk to work from – preferably close to a TV screen that will broadcast proceedings in a language you can understand from those rooms off limits to observers.

Third, and most critical, find an electrical socket to plug your laptop or mobile phone into. This year, the only sockets on site seem to be two-pin, round hole European style. This is a bit of a problem if, like me, you followed the travel advice and brought adaptors for two-pin, flat hole Latin American style plug sockets. Doh! Looks like many of us will be off to find an electrical shop at some point this week.

Back inside the main plenary, official delegates have much more important things to occupy their minds of coutse. Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), used her opening slot to set a clear marker for the job needing done by delegates here in Lima.

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“2014 is likely to be the hottest year on record and emissions continue to rise. We must act with urgency,” she says with passion. Before concluding, Figueres called on those present to “make history” by crafting the basis of a deal that will deliver a climate deal that both people and nature need.

Now, that would certainly be an outcome worth aiming for here over the days to come.

For all the latest on the climate talks be sure to follow @LangBanks  @WWFScotland and @LeoHickman @WWF_UK on Twitter.

You can also read previous ‘Postcards form Peru’ here: DAY 0

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