Direct from Copenhagen, Denmark - 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference - (8 – 18 December '09)

Acting as the official High Tide COP15 envoy, distinguished ecological artist Aviva Rahmani will be immersing herself in the burgeoning eco-political activism in the city and sharing her experiences with us via this daily blog.

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Produced in association with FACT

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Day 5 COP15 Before Ethics Press Conference

First mission of the day accomplished: I got into the Bella Center without incident by 8:30 AM. Beside literature, I was handed a tiny, delicious nutrious roll by "Time for Climate Justice" announcing a public event in City Hall Square 11:30 AM Sunday. A little further in, Greenpeace handed me a card for a Climate Demonstration Saturday 1:PM in Christiansborg Slotsplads. Last night, I heard that both Sacha and Oleg had put up installations in the city at various locations. At 8:30 AM the mood seems extremely purposeful and somewhat tense. It's clear in the USA & the conference, the battle lines are shaping up between the well-organized, corporate right and all these faced faced, earnestly lined friendly people working themselves to the bone for survival of the planet as we know and love it. A classic good guys bad guys and there will definitely be some losers.

Day 4 COP15 End of the day

While we worked in the Ethics Committee, we were mostly in a news bubble, drafting, editing and discussing. Tomorrow, back at the Bella Center (if they let us in), we will know more of where the issues are with the islands states and whether COP has resumed. This will all bear on the mood of reporters and how they receive the press kit, which has gone out.

By the evening, I was exhausted and it was pouring rain. I stopped at a hairdresser's to buy some conditioner and got into a long conversation with Eva, who runs the "Haircut," across from Oleg's side street and ended up letting her wash and blow dry my hair, which felt like blissful luxury. We chatted about COP, Bush, her last trip to NYC, where she ran the marathon in about 4.5 hours and outstripped her husband and dog walking. For about an hour, I felt human and relaxed in a way I haven't felt in weeks. When I got back to Oleg's, Suzanne still hadn't gone to the hospital. Oleg cooked us dinner and I helped clean up.

Tomorrow, the press conference begins at 9:30 AM, but because we don't know how they will decide to deal with the overage of observer status participants, we all plan to get there an hour earlier. It's been a long day and I'm headed for bed.

Day 5 Copenhagen Day 4 COP15 in the Ethics Committee at the Gentofle Hotel

In the Ethics Committee meeting I had to struggle with language. As an artist, I was thinking relatively simplistically: art is about human values/ quality of life and that is an ethical issue.

Don Brown, the leader of the group asked, how does "our" message differ than social justice and the thousands of folks talking about it now. And because a press conference is called for tomorrow, it has to be phrased within the text for Document 14. At the 2005 Nairobi COP a whitepaper was produced and now they want to produce another whitepaper. Allocation and trading are 2 of the foci. They asked us to state what struck us so far. I said, the discrepancy between human & corporate values.

Kyoto was about trust, they explained. Now the whole process on trial. So, the question is whether starting all over (framework questions) is the ethical issue. This relates to the Montreal COP (?! about which I know nothing). Environmental diplomacy is up for question. The person next to me has just said that what is in question is whether the market based approach works (in response to my question). Related questions are how does the burden get shared and from what sources and how allocated: "adaptation." So now I understand two words in this new context: allocation and adaptation.

It's very hard for me to follow this conversation. It's a group of about 15 people. Each phrase evokes associations and questions I'm trying to sort out. There's little chance to ask questions because they are under a deadline gun. I'm struggling to recall everything I can pertinent on their terms. So I lose key phrases in between.

Don says the unique hook is responsibilities, ie., as I suggested, to Tuvalu, et al, not narrow economic self-interest. I spent several hours helping to edit the press release and then clarifying adapation at lunch and after- which is really just who gets the $$ to deal with global warming, why and how. The editing process nails down the implications of language, phrasing and clarifying examples. Our final draft of the press release got worked on this afternoon by their PR person. The audience is initially the media to get them in the door and give them a more detailed paper, so every phrase is judged for whether it is both a good story and clear or whether it is backstory data. The pivotal point always comes back to how negotiating language can reflect a just approach to the problems, which then gets broken down into subsections, like water, etc. The reference document was 176 pages and wiggle room was a series of brief phrases in brackets taht mean it hasn't yet been ratified.