A slice of the broader narrow picture

Last night was UNfairplay’s first ever side event!

Side event = boring, dry, uninspiring? Not necessarily, I know I have been surprised at how engaging issues of participation have been for those involved in UNfairplay, and to those who we try to convey our findings too. Our aim was to draw attention to the report but also to highlight other schemes created to plug participation gaps at the UNFCCC. I think the reason our arguments are gaining traction and interest from all sides is very simply because they are issues of justice, and plain unfairness. My parents always hated my “its not fair” phase at the age of 7, well it’s back.

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National Distress Coaches

So yesterday was an epic journey to Bonn. I was up at 5:30am to catch the bus from Bristol to London to meet Isabel for the 10:30am Eurolines (national express) coach to Brussels and then Cologne. We then took the train from Cologne to Bonn, and eventually the tram before getting lost and having to share a taxi with some other people eventually arriving after 1am. Now I have rarely if ever had a satisfactory journey on a national express coach and this time was no exception.  On a hot day such as yesterday one would expect some air conditioning to work, however it didn’t and hence the whole coach was a sweat box. Within 10 minutes of getting on the coach someone had spilt milkshake all over the floor and refused to clear it up. Also an odour of ripe camembert was wafting in our part of the coach, let’s say it wasn’t a cheese sandwich, 15hours therefore seemed like some kind of endurance event and it was. Luckily we had a lot to talk about, mp3’s and water.

I have travelled in a lot of countries now, all through Mexico and Central America by coach as well as Peru. I can quite honestly say Eurolines are worse than any company I have experienced.  They tag your bag as though they are going to check it on and off the coach (as they do in all the aforementioned countries) giving you’re a false sense of security. Apparently this serves no purpose. Upon arriving in Brussels and after getting off the coach I realised that my bag was missing, after telling the driver he said in a blasé manner “oh bloody hell not again, this happens all the time”. All the time! All the time! And Eurolines still don’t bother to check bags on and off, still don’t have any security in their depot, don’t even warn you that you need to watch out for your bag in Brussels, and don’t even wait till everyone is off the coach till they unload! Needless to say I was angry and Eurolines were supremely unhelpful directing me to walk to the police station and report it in the 30minutes we had between busses (impossible), and failing to ring around other stations or the police until we insisted. Whilst trying to find said station we were also chased down a street by two prostitutes just to add to the hilarity. Needless to say my impression of Brussels could be much better.

So here I am, finally in Bonn with no: bag, pretty much all my nice clothes (including my suit), shoes x2, toiletries, adapters and also my digital camera that was in the bag. Luckily I have my laptop, phone and mp3 player, but apart from that only my (bus journey) clothes on my back. No insurance (I mean who gets robbed in Brussels) = no money so it’s bad times for me and seriously out of pocket. In a funny way I seem fated not to take part in UN negotiations, Copenhagen was a bit of a disaster after standing outside in the snow for 15hours trying to get accreditation, Katie not getting accredited, then the double badge system forcing out civil society from the building over the next two days (less than 100 members of civil society were allowed in during the last few days, shocking!).

I’m hoping that I’ve managed to pay my dues and soaked up all our bad luck for this year so that we can get on with our work here and uncover some really interesting stuff.  It seems that everywhere in Germany shuts on a Sunday and so another day in the same clothes beckons, in fact I’ll have to post a picture (coming soon). There’s some interesting meetings this afternoon with international youth and climate action network. We will also be planning our interviews tonight. In the mean time I’m desperately hoping not to become known as the UNfairplay tramp.

Yours dirtily,

Sam