Where the side events are the main events

by Mark Hopkins, Director of International Energy Efficiency, UN Foundation
From the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland

I am lodging at a hotel about 11 km from the conference center, so I’ve spent a good bit of my time in taxis going back and forth. My hotel location is a bit unusual though — it’s in back of a gas station along a four lane highway and you have to drive through the station to get to the front door of my hotel.

Given this COP is the final one for the Bush Administration and everyone is anticipating a U.S. policy change after President-Elect Obama takes office, many are jokingly referring to Poznan as “the lame-duck COP.”

Others are commenting that when these climate conferences began many years ago the negotiations were the main event, and side events were, well, just side events, something to occupy the time of all those at the conference who weren’t at the negotiating table. But at “the lame-duck COP” the situation is now reversed — the side events are where the real action is — by action I mean the innovative thinking and ideas that might lead to an agreement some day.

And finally, everyone got quite excited today, at least for a few minutes – the sun actually broke out of what seems to be the ever present dark gray Polish sky.