Wednesday, 9 December 2009


There are people here from across the world, but China has one sixth of the global population and they certainly don’t have that level of representation. It’s a rich world’s conference. Lots of Europeans, and Americans, and Australians (many of them drafted in to speak on behalf of small island states). Taking part in these events costs a lot of money and requires domestic political support. You don’t see many environmental activists from Russia here. Poorer countries cannot afford the huge numbers sent by wealthy blocs like the European Union, and do not have a hope of following every development in all the sub-groups and drafting sessions.

It’s also a young conference. The national negotiators may be a bit older but, looking around, I reckon the average age of the people here is in the upper 30s. By my standards (55) that’s young.

And it’s mostly an English language conference. There is interpretation available into Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, and Arabic but I have heard Chinese, Japanese, and many other spokesmen speaking publicly in English. The Saudi negotiator emphasised a point with the words: “I speak in English to make it absolutely clear that....”

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