The first days of the COP (Kyoto protocol meeting) here in Nairobi are full of lobbying, attending side events and strategizing. The conference is being held at the United Nations Environment Programme compound, which also houses the offices for UN Habitat. I was told that this is the only UN office complex in the developing world. The compound is like a garden city sitting on the edge of the bustle and diesel fumes of Nairobi. Around the perimiter of the compund there are 20 foot tall fences laced with electrified wire. Inside, we pick out government delegates by the red badges they wear and try to engage them. I think this is starting to get us somewhere.
We have been running a booth with pamphets on the potential for wind and solar power. When the delegates come by, we show them the renwable energy projects that Solar Generation has been building around the world. Some delegates seem genuinely impressed and motivated by this. Others, seem distant. The Saudis, who are renowned for throwing wrenches in the Kyoto process looked at our literature with aloof amusement. One woman, who turned out to be an Australian government negotiatior, visibly blushed when I told her about our projects and gave her a pin. "I can't wear this" she said. That day her government was one of the most regressive, winning a "Fossil of the Day" award given out by the Climate Action Network. An Australian delegate asked to speak about 20 minutes before the scheduled end of the negotiations and then took up all the remaining time and ruled out an extension. This makes sense for the only country besides USA to sign the Kyoto protocol and officially refuse to ratify it.
Last night I went with the huuuuge Canadian Youth Delegation and met with the co-chairs and negotiators from the Canadian Government. These officials work for Environment Canada and Foreign Affairs and are in a tight position - having to do what the Conservative government tells them. Canada used to lead the climate negotiations forward and now we are on the brink of becoming the next Australia. Our emissions are rising, our government doesn't care and it's going to be the poor of the world who suffer most from this. They are the most likley to depend on agriculture, or live in marginal areas where droughts, floods or cyclones are worse. A person living in Uganda for example, is unlikly to get any assitance when droughts, which are getting worse because of global warming, threaten their livelyhood or life.