One chapter ends, another begins…. Hobbled out of BB2B and plunged straight into COP15.
Today, my first full day in Copenhagen, got off to a slightly late start. The Climate Express arrived in the Danish capital around 11pm last night, and we were directed straight up the green carpet to a welcoming party at a bar/restaurant within the station. So what can you do when faced with free champagne and delicious-looking canapés but say “thank you very much” and partake freely? It would have been rude not to….
So it was a slightly tipsy Roz that first met Rikke Gaard, the lovely woman who has volunteered her family’s spare bedroom to a complete stranger through New Life Copenhagen. Generous householders like Rikke are accommodating thousands of visitors to COP15 – for which we are extremely grateful. It was about 1am by the time we got back to her home in the suburbs, near the airport, and I gratefully tottered off to my bedroom on the lower ground floor.
This morning I was able to get online for the first time in 36 hours, to face the resulting avalanche of emails. Buried in the morass was a message letting me know that the camera crew from the Will Steger Foundation would be ready to interview me at 10.30 this morning. I read their message at 10.25. Eeek! After firing off a quick email to let them know I would be horrendously late I got some quick directions from my hosts and headed off to the Metro stop.
Arriving in central Copenhagen, I realized I really didn’t know where I was going. No iPhone Google Maps (due to extortionate data roaming charges) and no paper map in hand. After utterly failing to find a map shop, and getting contradictory directions from various people, I finally stumbled across a crowd of people and spotted my good friend Will Steger in their midst. Aha! And only one and a half hours late….
As it turned out, my timing was perfect. Any earlier would have been too early for them. So this is now my philosophy on COP15. There is SO much going on here, between the high level conference and the multitude of side events, that it would be impossible to come up with the perfect master plan – and I could drive myself insane even trying.
So I will go with the flow, and trust to gut feel, fate and serendipity to steer me in the “right” direction. In the midst of so much frenzied jockeying for position, these guides are as good as any.
And so far, the strategy is working well. After my video interview I joined UNEP for the opening of the Climate Maze and Hard Rain photo exhibition in Kongens Nytorv Square. The Mayor of Copenhagen and Achim Steiner gave rousing speeches, emphasizing the incredible importance of this historic summit. The photos, played to the accompaniment of Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain, moved me almost to tears. And I accidentally got into conversation with Achim Steiner – possibly one of the most influential, and certainly one of the most personable, people at the climate change conference.
Moving on from the freezing square into the relative warmth of the Radisson, I joined fellow BB2Been Alison Gannet for a final filmed interview with our BB2B filmmaker, Nora McDevitt, and caught up on a few emails by freeloading off the Radisson Hotel WiFii. And went for an early supper with Earth rights lawyer Polly Higgins – definitely one to watch at this conference.
But as I boarded the Metro to head home I realized I had only the haziest idea where “home” was. I had been in such a hurry in the morning that I hadn’t even noticed the name of the Metro stop where Rikke had dropped me. Eeek! This was one set of directions that gut feel wasn’t going to help me with. How embarrassing! Most people expect ocean rowers to be able to navigate their way out of anything, but there is a world of difference between navigating across an ocean and navigating an unfamiliar metro system. Eventually I had to admit defeat and with much wincing turned on the data roaming on my iPhone for the 3 minutes it took me to enter Rikke’s address and figure out the nearest metro stop. At £3 per MB I hope not to make a habit of this!
So it was with a sense of relief that I arrived at Rikke’s house tonight to be greeted by a very welcome mug of glogg (pronounced gluck, more or less) – the Danish version of mulled wine. It was a much-appreciated nightcap after a long day navigating the tricky terrains of a new city and a global summit.
Ideally I would stay up for another couple of hours to edit together a video of our BB2B walk for our sponsors Keen Footwear, but there is another busy day tomorrow and it’s already 11pm, so it may just have to wait. Sigh. It’s not easy saving the world! 🙂
Notes from today:
I have now downloaded two new apps for my iPhone that work offline, so don’t incur data charges: Metro Copenhagen and Copenhagen Offline Street Map. And also obtained a paper map of each. Phew! Now I feel more secure and less prone to navigational embarrassment!
Nice supper tonight, and probably not a bad price as Copenhagen goes – apparently recently deemed 3rd most expensive city in the world. I can recommend La Vecchia Gastronomia, Falkoner Alle 17, 2000 Frederiksberg. The mussels were especially good!
To buy Hard Rain on Amazon, here’s the link: