A really bizarre thing happened today at the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin. A group of people arrived to hand over New Zealand’s Fossil of the Day award, but that’s not the bizarre thing. The strange thing about the event was the Embassy’s reaction.
A group of people from the Climate Action Network had already delivered Fossil of the Day awards to the Canadian and Algerian embassies; where Embassy staff accepted the awards with good grace and humour.
Canada got its award after its Prime Minister was spotted taking more interest in eating donuts than going to climate talks at the United Nations General Assembly. Algeria got its award after it tried to get other countries to agree to finance oil-rich countries so that they can respond to reduced demand for fossil fuels. This is money that should be earmarked for genuinely poor countries like Pacific Island states that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Today it was New Zealand’s turn (our delegation had won the award for threatening to lower NZ's already weak targets below the 10-20% range we'd promised if ‘it did not like the final agreement’). Unlike the Canadian and Algerian embassy staff, those at the New Zealand embassy in Berlin appeared to panic. The campaigners were asked to leave immediately.
The representatives at the embassy apparently claimed they were ‘not in a position’ to receive the satirical award, and said that the responsible person was ‘not in the office’. The bizarre thing was that they then asked the group to leave, claiming to be on ‘high terror alert’. A high terror alert? Really? Maybe the realisation that New Zealand is currently a climate laggard was just too scary for an embassy located in a country and region that is a key market for New Zealand products, and one that is full of environmentally conscious citizens.
The Kyoto Protocol negotiations are where the action is at the moment here in Bangkok, as most countries debate targets for developed countries (although it’s not something developed countries seem all that keen to talk about). There was a bit of light relief this afternoon though. One delegate with a rather dodgy target (not New Zealand this time) announced his country was in favour of transparency, but that they needed a different date against which to measure emissions for “domestic political purposes.” This request to make a dodgy target look good was immediately followed with a loud cuckoo clock sound –cuckoo cuckoo bing cuckoo cuckoo – as someone’s phone rang.