An enormous registration queue outside the COP15 venue is reminiscent of “spring traffic” in China. Photo by Guo Guangdong.
The Copenhagen Climate Change Summit (COP15) is widely accepted as the world’s most important meeting since World War II. The UN was set up after WWII to try to reduce the risk of human beings killing each other. Now people worry about that climate change will lead to the end of the world. The day before yesterday I flew from Guangzhou to Beijing, and then to Copenhagen. I was excited to be at this world event as a journalist.
The Conference was closed on Sunday. Journalists could not register. Monday early morning, I rushed to the COP15 venue before dawn, finding an enormous queue when I got out of the metro. To my dismay, I ran for five minutes to find the end.
8:10, I finally got into the line. I can see neither the head nor the end so I just stayed in the middle of the line. It was good to see people of every country moving together.
An hour later, the line had moved forward 10 metres
After another hour, it had moved another 10 metres.
My fingers were frozen and my legs were stiff. I saw an older man ahead of me, unaware that his nose was running; I touched my own nose: it was the same.
After an hour passed, we moved to the queue-based portable toilets, as other journalists told us, a lady was warming her feet with the hand dryer.
At least for this moment, with the unbearable frigid temperatures in Copenhagen, I began to question if global temperatures were really increasing. Maybe they chose the wrong venue location to hold the world’s most important post-WWII meeting. If the conference were held in Guangzhou, global warming would be more evident.
At noon, people in the front began to chant, "Let us in!”
But it is hard to let us in.
The endless and motionless line ceased to move, as we stayed under the highway overpass without any shelter from the wind. To pass the time, people watched bulldozers and other constructions vehicles work near the queue. Visiting other countries, I feel Chinese strength when comparing COP15 to the Olympic Games. With more than a 100 heads of state attending and the significances of the conference, if the summit was held in China, the government would close the construction site and long lines would be minimal.
According to a colleague, who had interviewed several Copenhagen residences, found that many residence opposed COP15 being held in the city, stating it would waste taxpayers’ money. Depending on the situation, it is hard to say if Demark and Copenhagen did their best.
Later I heard that the reason why it was chaotic is that the organizers invited too many guest, besides the heads of state, but news media, NGOs, scientists, entrepreneurs, and religious specialists were invited to COP15. With the endless chaos, it is far beyond their ability to host such important events. When comparing China’s Summer Olympic Games, it was well organized with small queues.
Nearly 12:30, we were notified that we would wait another four or five hours before we could register. Without any food and drink, people in line would surely die before the impacts of global warming.
With that announcement, I decided to turn back, seeing the dense mass of queued people from the overpass. I have not caught the “Spring Traffic” for years, but now I saw the similar scene in another country. We cannot access the venue in sight, just as tragic as we cannot get onto the train in sight. I really hope the prospect of global climate negotiations would not be noisy and fruitless.
Chaotic and desperate scenes at registration. Photo by Guo Guangdong.