Despatches: From Greenland to the Australian Desert, It's Been a Year of Dramatic Change. New Statesman Writes Report, at Christmas, from around the World

By Hilton, Isabel; Mahood, Kim et al. | New Statesman (1996), December 22, 2008 | Go to article overview

Despatches: From Greenland to the Australian Desert, It's Been a Year of Dramatic Change. New Statesman Writes Report, at Christmas, from around the World


Hilton, Isabel, Mahood, Kim, Sheers, Owen, New Statesman (1996)


POLAND

A planet-saving climate fest

BY Isabel Hilton

It looked like a glum Christmas season in Poznan, Poland's second city. Some 8,000 members of the global climate tribe were in town, but, in a restaurant near the old town square, two waitresses divided their bored gaze between just three customers and a large flat-screen television, on which a succession of American pop singers gyrated in a high wind. Outside, the damp street was all but deserted.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"Has the economic crisis hit Poland?" I asked Arek, a professor at Poznan's most important university. He shrugged. "Yes, but that's not why the town is dead," he said. Poznan, he explained, normally has 100,000 students, who pack the usually raucous bars and cafes. "But the universities sent them home for two weeks," he said. "They wanted to let out the students' rooms for the conference."

Few of them were likely to return for the final week before the Christmas break. Arek was indignant. "They just announced it--no discussion. They wanted to make money." And, no, he also said, there had not been many takers for the rooms.

The 14th Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol--COP 14--held in Poznan between 1 and 12 December, was certainly a large event, but hardly big enough to occupy the space vacated by the students. As they were absent, there were no climate-related debates at the university, no boisterous demonstrations demanding a rethink of Poland's dependence on coal. The people of Poznan went quietly about their diminished business, paying no more attention to the countdown to Armageddon than they would to any passing trade fair.

COP 14, like its predecessors, was the trade fair of the climate business. Off a nondescript highway heading into the suburbs, Poznan's vast conference centre comfortably swallowed scores of side events, press conferences, closed and open meetings, delegation offices and coffee-bar conspiracies. Camera crews conducted interviews at the crossroads of two huge indoor avenues lined with stalls promoting everything from the UN itself to a Korean plan to save the planet with algae. Men and women burdened with bundles of handouts hurried to distant meeting rooms named after Poland's wildlife, from the mysterious Alpine Accentor and Aesculapian Snake to the Woodpecker.

There were witty events daily, some aimed at the cameras, others at the resolve of the negotiators, as activists competed to provide arresting visuals for catastrophic climate change: a row of life-sized ice maidens slowly morphed into headless ice spikes; a high-spirited youth group batted a lump of coal with hockey sticks, a flimsy excuse for their slogan "Don't Puck It Up"; down-and-out polar bears held placards begging for change, or "confessing" to lives ruined by oil addiction.

Saudi Arabia, declining rehab, sent its oil minister to lay a compensation claim for any loss of business that saving the planet might cause. Canada, which has missed its mitigation targets by several miles, issued a stirring call to action. The outgoing US negotiators sat on the shrinking ice floe of the Bush presidency, unsmiling but unrepentant, and, in a parallel reality, talked of their years of climate leadership. The man from the Maldives pointed out that back home the rising tide was lapping at people's ankles. Country after country intoned the mantra of the moment--that the economic crisis should not be an excuse for delay--as they kicked the real decisions into next year. The habitual scapegoats, Brazil and China, pointed to ambitious national plans and challenged the rich polluters to match their words with some action of their own.

But they had gathered for a ritual haunted by absences: that of the EU and of the announced messiah, Barack Obama, to whom the former vice-president Al Gore, at a packed revivalist address, played John the Baptist. The EU's attention was on the final negotiations in Brussels, 500 miles away, for its own climate and energy package: the means by which the EU's promise of 20 per cent cuts in [CO. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Despatches: From Greenland to the Australian Desert, It's Been a Year of Dramatic Change. New Statesman Writes Report, at Christmas, from around the World
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.