November 19, 2013
By Jason Anderson, Head of European Climate and Energy Policy at WWF European Policy Office
Say what you like about the government of Poland’s problematic approach to climate policy, but they sure can build a great national stadium. The COP venue is gorgeous and every time I see the sea of empty red and white seats I think it’s a shame we weren’t all here for a match rather than a COP.
The venue also serves as a good metaphor for both optimists and pessimists about the UN climate negotiations.
The architecture of the roof is like a big tent, under which people from all over the world find a common space. They’re engaged in an event with competitive aspects, but can only take place due to their own desire to participate. The process is time-delimited and requires clear outcomes.
But you could also say that the event takes place almost literally in its own bubble, in the enclosed stadium, isolated from the outside world. The main plenary rooms are housed in temporary buildings down on the playing field, where the goals have been entirely obscured by the space for negotiation. With the meeting rooms arranged around the periphery of the stadium, delegates find themselves moving in circles looking for the right location, often only to find they were simply on the wrong floor, then get stuck at the elevator bottlenecks trying to lift themselves to the next level.
I’m not sure how to work the sushi at the food court into the analogy. Probably best not to. Small bites of Japanese food, like their climate policy, leaves me feeling a bit empty inside right now.