Is standing 6 hours in line a sign of things to come? (By Itamar and Steve)

We arrived at the Bella Center this morning to discover a line over 500m long of people waiting. We were able to discern that the line for everybody who hasn’t checked in to receive their official UN credentials required to attending the conference.  Temperature was near 0 degrees (C) and the line was moving incredibly slow. No UN official was in sight and there was no formal explanation for why the line was so long or how long we would wait.  After about four hours of standing in the cold a guy announced over the bullhorn that whoever is not within the fenced perimeter (i.e. us) should expect an additional waiting period of 3-6 hours. At this point, our delegation split with some of us heading to town and some staying in line, only to give up about 3 hours later when no progress was made.  A rumor circulated that no more people were admitted because the venue has reached capacity.

To put this in context, admittance to the conference was not supposed to be on a “first come, first serve” basis. Tuck submitted a formal application back in August specifying the number and names of all delegates attending. Therefore, one would assume that the UN would not “oversell” the conference and have a better process in place for which to allow the delegates to sign in. We wonder whether this incredible gap between logistics “policy formulation” and “policy execution” should also raise questions about a similar gap in the conference’s content subject matters.

We see the need for efficient and quick action as a key component of any agreement on climate change trying to successfully deal with this challenge.  Is the incredible lack of efficiency we’ve experienced thus far a sign of what’s to come?

PS (added by Prof. Sundaram): I am told — by someone in the know — that 40,000 conference registration slots were handed out for a venue, the Bella Center, that has 15,000 max capacity. Hmmmmm. It leads me to think: we’d better not to put these folks in charge of handing out emissions allowances in a cap-and-trade world.

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    [...] their classmates abreast of the climate negotiations at the conference. One of the more recent entries is titled “Is Standing 6 Hours in Line a Sign of Things to Come?” The post, written by students [...]

  2. 2

    faith beasley said,

    Indeed NPR reported today that the conference center was built to accomodate 15,000 people but that 45,000 had registered for the conference. Good thing you all were used to Hanover weather!

  3. 3

    Bob Hansen said,

    Yikes. These are the guys who are going to regulate world wide carbon emissions and they can’t even run a little conference? Oh boy. It sounds like you are having a lot more patience than I would in such a situation.

    Here’s a thought: Maybe a little profit motive needs to be brought in for the conference organizers. Does anyone make more or less money if the conference goes smoothly or not?

    Stay warm.

    bob h

  4. 4

    anant said,

    A simple solution for the future would be to outsource conference organization to a (private) company that does this for a living. Better yet, to the folks who organized the Beijing Olympics!

    The UNFCCC is obviously incapable. (After all, it is not COP1 or COP2….. but #15!!)

  5. 5

    [...] their classmates abreast of the climate negotiations at the conference. One of the more recent entries is titled “Is Standing 6 Hours in Line a Sign of Things to Come?” The post, written by students [...]


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