Why I’m not at COP15

In short, I should be. I finally got semi-accreditation at the end of last week (in the form of an NGO pass no less), but as is always the issue, logistics and red tape have been the only prohibiting factor in gaining access to the summit.

Oxfam once again invested resource and time in sponsoring me to attend. Without being part of a large news group or agency, it’s almost impossible to get in as a blogger without this. They’ve always been very good at providing this support without expecting specific coverage in return, which gave me a lot of freedom at the G20 summits in London and Pittsburgh.

The accreditation process for COP15 raised the usual issues, the first of which was an online form that timed out after a few minutes, making it a veritable race to complete before you got thrown off the site. Then, like Pittsburgh, when some of the bloggers under the Tck Tck Tck banner (the group that represents a wide variety of charities) weren’t approved – we were asked to re-apply, putting NGO contacts down to signal to the UN that we’d be attending under their approval. When I found out that this process had been closed, as the accreditation team had approved TOO many media, journalists and NGOs than the venue could actually hold – without even processing governmental staff yet – I threw my hands up in despair.

I decided then not to go, as I didn’t see the point in adding to the estimated 41,000 tonnes of “carbon dioxide equivalent” that will be emitted “for the whole conference including travel to and from Copenhagen”. I didn’t get accreditation for Pittsburgh either, and spent a lot of the time in the official offsite media centre. It was fine, but I found it frustrating as I could have watched the live feeds on Sky or the BBC from anywhere.

Even though the majority of world leaders only flew out late this week, lending my input for Copenhagen while back in the UK is proving to be tough. I’m led to conclude that actually, though being there but not BEING there was irritating to me, being in the local vicinity meant that I was still plugged in. I could still talk to the other delegates, media and observers for a different opinion. Whatever people might say, sitting in a room with someone that can answer a question vs. blogging from the other side of Europe with relatively little external input is a very different thing.

I’m disappointed that even though time and time again, online journalists and bloggers have proven themselves to be vital in providing a diverse range of viewpoints, it’s still incredibly difficult to get an appropriate level of access. I’m not asking for a free for all, but I haven’t seen any input on what’s happening at COP15 from any perspective other than major broadcasters or NGOs. What I’m really missing is what this means to the average person on the street, and an opportunity to influence or ask questions as the summit happens.

2 responses to “Why I’m not at COP15”

  1. Marcos Perez

    Nice article and deep reflection. I’m sure we could make a change if we no longer consider that offsite attendance to this kind of events is less quality.

    I attended last TEDGlobal in Oxford. The first day of the conference I had no place at the theater and I had to follow the sessions from the simulcast lounge. I was disappointed but after attending several “live sessions” I realized that “live events” are not always the best solution because sometimes we can get an augmented experience by sharing and networking with the people off the stage.

    Sorry for my english… I think that’s why I didn’t talk to you in Oxford 😉

  2. Vikki

    Hi Marcos

    Thanks for your comment and good point re: TED. I also watched many of the sessions from the simulcast lounge, and found that actually it was the atmosphere/conversations I had there that made the event worthwhile.

    If you see me again, come chat! 🙂

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