A unique Israeli experience (by Itamar)

On Wednesday morning, due to the UNFCCC decision to stop the accreditation process for NGOs without any advance warning, I ended up being the only Tuck student delegate that attended the actual conference. In addition to attending some side events, varying from climate change adaptation costs in Africa, through Senator John Kerry making his forecast on what the US will do in the next 6 months to the tension between climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in the city level to the ones in the national government level, I also tried to find a way in which at least one of us will be able to attend the conference on Thursday.

The UNFCCC has limited the number of observers on Thursday to only 1,000 (as opposed to 7,000 on Tuesday and Wednesday) and a new secondary badge was required. As it turned out, the overhead organization for research and independent NGOs (RINGO) was the one capable of providing us with such badges yet they decided to give priority to organizations that have attended past RINGO meetings during the conference. Since we never even got a chance to attend one, we were out of the race.

I decided to try the Israeli delegation. Since I didn’t see too many Israeli NGOs around, I figured they might have some extras. Unfortunately, the contact person for Israeli NGOs did not have any badges but when I asked him if he knows anything about the itinerary for the expected visit of Mr. Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel, past Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, he invited me to attend a closed event with Mr. Peres for the Israeli delegation later on that afternoon in one of the hotels in town. Having never met Mr. Peres in person before, needless to say I was quite excited.

It was interesting to see the dynamics in the meeting: Mr. Peres began by stating that his goal in that meeting was to make sure that tomorrow everybody is going to be on the same page, and gave the rough outline of his planned speech for the Plenary meeting emphasizing the Israeli opportunity to develop climate change related technology, Israel’s willingness to share its knowledge and expertise with the rest of the nations and its commitment to comply with the international standard, whichever it may be. He then asked the audience for feedback and comments and hearing some of them incorporated in his speech the next day brought a smile to my face.

We then proceeded to the Jewish Synagogue in central Copenhagen which was packed with the local Jewish community to light the 6th candle of Hanukkah.  Being a rather secular Jew myself, I still found the situation to be quite emotional and Mr. Peres’ speech addressing the congregation very moving.

Through some creative thinking but primarily luck, a rather dull morning has turned into one of the most memorable experiences I will have from this conference.

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