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UN Climate Change Conference, Montreal

December 2, 2005 By Amanda Haag This article courtesy of Nature News.

Amanda Haag reports from the biggest international climate change conference since the signing of the Kyoto treaty.

High security

The United Nations annual conference for negotiations on climate change is quite a different scene from your standard science conference. Just to get in the door and pick up your badge, you must go through multiple security screenings. This is the first time I've been asked to turn on my laptop before it goes through the x-ray machine.

Once inside, the meeting is a swirling mass of reporters, representatives from non-governmental organizations and myriad interest groups, and sharp-dressed United Nations delegates. From there, you are immersed in acronyms that you must sift through in order to make headway and decide on your course of action for the day. As if UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) wasn't bad enough, imagine BINGOs, RINGOs and ENGOs - all different flavors of non-governmental organizations - or SBSTA and SBI. (Trust me, you don't really want to know about those last two.)

But it's not all stuffy high-end delegate stuff. Each day, a group known as CAN (Climate Action Network) pins the "Fossil of the Day" award on countries that are considered to be blocking progress on the negotiations. Yesterday, the United States, Australia and Russia took the cake for reportedly prioritizing their own adaptation needs over that of developing countries. Not surprisingly, the US has been the proud recipient or co-recipient of the award every day this week.

Now it's time to decide what to do next: do I attend the mock hockey game, where student activists dressed in jerseys face off over whether there is convincing scientific evidence underlying the Kyoto Protocol? Or do I head for the SBSTA contact group on the development and transfer of technologies? Somehow it seems a bit too early for such decisions.


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