We have agreement. No need to get excited, unfortunately. This agreement concerns the appalling logistics at the Cancun conference, which may well make it harder for delegates here to reach any other kind of consensus.
On this first full day of COP 16, all conversations begin with a diatribe on the time wasted on buses. A few lucky souls, including many from the better-organized parties, secured accommodation in the conference venue itself – the incongruously-named Moon Palace. The rest of us are lodged in a strip of beach-front hotels, a luxurious retreat two hours’ bus ride (in morning rush hour) from the COP registration area. Two hours? Wait, there’s more. The registration area itself, the aptly-named Cancunmesse, is another half-hour bus ride away, back the way we came.
Even if the evening ride home is less congested, the distant negotiator can still expect to spend upwards of four hours each day on a bus. That’s four hours not spent in constructive negotiations.
We lowly observers get the message. And, let’s face it, after the logjams and incursions caused by civil society groups at Copenhagen, we shouldn’t be surprised when we are shunted off to a luxury resort and given a choice of tequila or traffic.
But there are others, even besides negotiators themselves, who, in the public interest, must be present at the negotiations.
One of the cardinal rules of journalism – don’t become the story. But I believe there’s a valid case on this occasion. Richard Ingham of AFP clearly agrees. Given the chance to ask a question in a press conference with the new Mexican president of the COP, he instead took the opportunity to lambast the organizers for the logistical arrangements. Not only were he and his fellow journos unable to cover the negotiations from their air-conditioned buses, but once at the venue, the internet was down and the media centre was another bus ride away. They are simply unable to do their job properly. He sat down to a prolonged round of applause. This setup does not make for a transparent process.