The International Writers Magazine: Climate Conference
Marianne de Nazareth
I am here in freezing Copenhagen covering the UN Climate Change COP15. It is chaotic and literally a circus with all the NGO’s and activists, delegates and the press, converging on the Bella centre every single morning for two weeks.
During this second week the police swung forward and began to stop entry for people after the limit of 15000 was reached. This left many of our journalists out in the freezing cold, and unable to get into the centre. So to beat the numbers and be part of the quota we leave our hotels at 7am!
But come evening and it’s such a good feeling to go back to my hotel named First Garden Hotel in Sweden. At first I thought – Sweden oh my God!, that’s really far away, but I am glad the UNFCCC got us a hotel there. The town is quaint and charming and at least for a few hours we can wander around and enjoy the Christmassy feeling away from the Climate change chaos.
As you get out of the train station in Malmo central you are hit by the twinkling lights. There are lights everywhere and since it gets dark by 4pm when we go home at 7pm, it’s really freezing and cold. However the lights do lift our spirits. There are lights on trees, the shops, the streets and even festooned across the bridges. It also seems that the inhabitants of Malmo are proud of their city. They cycle around rather than use the car most often and the shopping malls and streets are clean and inviting.
We went across to see the huge Malmo wheel last evening which is an enormous Ferris wheel in the central plaza. There is a skating rink where young kids skate around with indulgent parents watching. Around the shops and restaurants are all dressed for Christmas and there are lots of deals to be had. Most shops are accommodating and take my Danish Kroner and return Swedish kroner in change. That’s fine as we can use the Swedish change when we need to buy a sandwich or some hot chocolate. However the supermarket took the Danish kroner as one on one which was quite a large loss for me, but with time being a constraint I had to let it go. I can’t really go home without chocolates and goodies back home to India for Christmas, so the difference was unavoidable!
The huge Malmo wheel was awesome in the square. I wondered if my little camera would be able to capture the beauty of the wheel at night, but it did! I could not gather up enough courage to go whirling on it, but it seems to be a lot of fun judging from the squeals of the people enjoying the rides.
||I went into a mall to shop for a few goodies to take home and was entranced by a very real looking Santa sitting in the middle of the mall. Wow, he was old and pink cheeked and straight out of the story books. The kids stood close and gave him their list of Christmas ‘desires’ which he very solemnly wrote down in a big book with a quill pen. It was the quaintest and sweetest Christmas thing I had seen in Malmo or ever in my life!
Back home I remember my sons screaming with fear at Santa as he looked so weird. However I guess here in Malmo the kids are used to old men with long flowing beards and ruddy cheeks!
I also love the hot chocolate of Malmo. You must try it, it really warms one up in this biting cold after coming home from the conference. The hotel offers free hot drinks at any time of the day, which is so welcome when we come in out of a long walk home from the station! Just tear off the top of the sachet, tip the contents into a cup, and pour hot water from out of the dispenser. Viola! There’s your cup of cheer which I take up to my room and settle down to with a sandwich for dinner.
In a few days we will all have winged off home to our various countries after working covering the negotiations which at the moment seems to be going nowhere. Like one of the youth delegates asked RK Pachauri, the Nobel laureate from India, “ Where are the scientists at these negotiations?” And he had to diplomatically say, “ Well we have done our work by coming out with our IPCC report, now the whole process is just political.”
For our sakes and for the sake of the whole planet, lets hope better sense prevails and our leaders come up with a stable and legally binding agreement by the end of the week. For the moment there are squabbles and walk outs which don’t look too good for the process.
© Marianne de Nazareth Dec 16th 2009
Fellow with UNFCCC
Former Asst Editor- The Deccan Herald
Adjunct faculty St. Joseph's College.