I am paying my first visit to Poland, which is very exciting, even though winter is closing in across Eastern Europe and it is all a bit cold and dark today.
I am here to support some side events at COP 19, the latest round of the United Nations Climate negotiations.We have a Transport Day on Sunday which is attracting some of the world’s top minds in the field to try and address how we reverse the increasing share transport is playing in CO2 emissions, especially in the developing world.
And on Saturday we have the “Climate Ride”, a nice physical act by the city of Warsaw to do something positive away from all the debating chambers, side events, workshops and negotiations that go on non-stop for two weeks. As one of the supporters I am really looking forward to riding with the local bike community.
I got here around lunchtime and after some meetings I just had some time in the gathering gloom to hire one of the Ventrilo city public hire bikes and orient myself.
It’s not the easiest city to ride – most of my pre-reading on various forums about cycling in Warsaw was awfully fearful about Polish drivers and general cycling conditions. I did get forced almost off the road by a bus in the first five minutes but in true idonotdespair style I was soon in to it, when i doubt I just rode up the broad sidewalks with the other cyclists. (Yes there were a few cyclists – so I truly do not despair!)
The best bit was the calm of the old restored city centre where I shall certainly return in the next few days for a further look round, especially as we start our bike ride in front of City Hall.
I also had to smile a wee bit in the context of my reason for being here. I saw two buildings that are associated with the Climate Change negotiations. The National Stadium is the host for the COP process and the Palace of Culture and Science is a second venue, promoting the COP with it’s hopeful banner “I care”.
Both were shrouded in mist today.
A bit like the COP process for many people, maybe including me. I am deputising for a colleague who couldn’t make it to this meeting. Fortunately for cycling in the long run he understand this world better than I do, and all the important questions.
Will there be a breakthrough in negotiations that we all believe can reset the path for the future?
Can anybody in the outside explain the five pages of acronyms and descriptions of all the things that are supposed to deliver the changes we need?
I am struggling to know my NAMAs from my CDMs right now, along with all the other key mechanisms for taking action on Climate Change, it is a steep learning curve.
The gain is that I get to visit Warsaw, the pain is that by Sunday I need to be fluent in COPspeak……………..back to the briefing papers.