When the meetings for the day finally began, Danica, Ben, and I first attended the “High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance.” We first heard from the president of COP 19, Marcin Korolec, as he opened the session to welcome everyone attending and explain the importance of making progress at this conference rather than just wait until COP 20 in Rio or another date. The keynote address was then presented by Ban Ki-moon (pictured below), the United Nations Secretary General. It was really interesting to hear him speak in person about the urgency of the climate situation. Many other nations spoke during this dialogue as well, and a recurring theme was the urgency of the climate change situation. However, there were few suggestions presented about the how to solve this urgent problem. Most of the attention was placed upon financial mechanisms, which was what we expected.
After we left the dialogue, we decided to visit the pavilions of China and Norway. Over the past several days, we have had a significant amount of success learning about varying perspectives on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Programme of Activities (PoAs) by stopping by various exhibit booths for different nations and organizations as well as the national pavilions. It was also inspiring to be surrounded people who make such important decisions regarding the future of environmental policy. I now have a greater respect for the process of environmental policy implementation because I am realizing how difficult and confusing the process can be at times.
Danica, Ben, and I then ate lunch and then headed to the Media Center to learn more about Bangladesh and the CDM. We ended up learning about Bangladesh over a second lunch, but it was fascinating how the perspective of a least-developed country (LDC) on CDM varies significantly from that of a developed country.
It is a very interesting dynamic having the high-level officials present at the conference. On Monday, the high-level segment of the conference had not yet started, so everyone seemed relatively relaxed, and there was not a sense of urgency. However, yesterday and today, the tension significantly increased. There are now many meetings not open to observers, and the security and protesting has increased. It seems that people feel that they need to accomplish something in the next two days, but minimal progress has been made so far. Hopefully the final days of the conference will produce some results!
Tourist Note: Last night, we all went to dinner at Bierhalle Browar Restauracja, a restaurant recommended as one of the places a traveler to Warsaw should visit. It was a strange meal. Nothing was necessarily wrong, but our food seemed obscure to our American palates. Some of the food was unseasoned, and there was a failed attempt at Mexican food because of the addition of large quantities of barbeque sauce. We all left confused why this restaurant was so highly recommended.
Bree, Brendan, Ben, and Danica also were able to go to the Warsaw Uprising Museum before the conference started one day. This museum explains the Polish uprisings that took place during the German occupation of the country.