At Le Bourget, north of Paris, where the negotiations, events, meetings and discussions are taking place, the venue is divided into two important areas.
The “green room” which is actually a huge enclosed marquee where the NGOs, government agencies and interested parties have set up booths, and where there are several smaller rooms which act as lecture theaters for presentations; and the “blue room” which is where those who have been accredited by their governments are meeting for negotiations and intense lobbying of the decision makers.
AWiA did not seek accreditation for COP21 (but may in future?) so our activities have been restricted to the green room. However, yesterday evening your correspondent had the pleasure of meeting several fellow Australians who did have accreditation and who have been inside the blue room.
How does decision making occur in that rarified atmosphere?
Most of the energy is spent in lobbying those who are charged with decision making. Most of the focus of this is on the language of agreements, many of which have been crafted, in discussion, for a long time before COP21 and have been brought here to wordsmith so that agreement about language is made.
“If isn’t locked down this week it just won’t happen” said one of those who had spent time in the blue room. “Climate justice will emerge as the next big wave on which decisions will need to be made” reflected another.
Australia does “punch above its weight” in these discussions, it’s too simplistic to see us as a small player with no voice. As we all know in the many community meetings, negotiations and discussions that are part of our lives every day, you have to be at the table to be part of the decision making. It isn’t enough to criticize afterwards, you have to be there! And so it is with COP21.
What happens in the green room is vital to the success of the blue room negotiations. Even more so as for many of us here, and as I have been recording, many solutions are being put in place locally; many local governments are making decisions way ahead of central governments; citizens are taking action. As one Australian put it “local isn’t small beer” it’s where it’s all at. We can learn from others, and that’s where the green room is having its greatest impact, in the sharing of ideas.
As the second week begins and we are getting to the pointy end of things, those in the green room will be urging those in the blue not to waste this historic opportunity. Keep watching the news as we get to hear what the outcomes from COP21 will be and how all our futures are linked to these.