The first day in one of the largest construction sites in the world
Doha is turning into a huge construction site. The COP 18 convention center itself is surrounded by several ongoing construction projects. The high standing cranes seem to signal the country’s ambition in not only expanding its infrastructure but also engaging more in international affairs. The modern, fancy and huge convention center has clearly achieved such ends. It took me more than half an hour to simply walk through the building. I like the giant spider sculpture in the center, the many laptops for the participants to use, the food courts named “Grab n Go” and the wifi server named “Plug n Play”. But when I was about to go the opening ceremony, the volunteer told me the room was full. Last year in Durban, big TV stations lively broadcasted the opening ceremony and plenary meetings so that participants outside the plenary room would still be able to watch them. This year, though we don’t have big TVs, we get much more volunteers who never hesitate to make brave and friendly eye contact. This makes me indeed want to see the Olympic Game held in this city sometime – but not too soon.
Leaving the opening ceremony, I met Fuqiang Yang, who worked at Cornell University, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, WWF and now a senior advisor at NRDC (China) on energy and climate change. Our team China from IOC class had an interview with him last year in Durban. He complained to me that, even though there are many public laptops, he can not find where to “plug n play” his own computer. We also agreed that it is an amazingly huge building and scheduled to talk about more important issues in the next few days.
After having a 20-hr trip and an early wake-up due to jet lag, I decided to have some real food at one of the Grab-n-Gos. With two pieces of chicken sandwiches, I joined two government delegates from Niger. Since they speak French, our conversation started with a little bit difficulty. But it got better and better very soon probably because I am not an English native speaker either. One of the delegates will focus on KP and REDD. He expressed the interest in getting more support for mitigation (instead of adaptation?) from KP and GCF. I also learnt a new piece of knowledge that Niger does have forests in midst deserts and does care about forests conservation. I told them I am a student studying at U.S. from China. The most interesting question to them was why U.S. did not adopt KP. Fortunately they were not really seeking an answer from me. One of them asserted firmly that it was only due to economic and financial considerations and the pressure from the private sector. This statement is not new but might be very interesting if it somehow reflects a common perception among LDCs. Shall U.S. redefine global justice and internationalism in the context of climate change? Hope J.F.K would not disagree.