Day 6 of COP15/CMP5. Copenhagen. Middle Saturday so we’re having stocktake plenaries.
Time to take stock. Here I am, sitting in the privileged position in the main plenary room, with my precious pink badge. And feeling completely detached from the process. There are an estimated 28,000 people here, 5,000 Party delegates, 5,000 press and 18,000 NGOs of various ilks (BINGOs, YOUNGOs, ENGOs, RINGOs, TUNGOs – the listGOs on). In that sense I’m on the inside, beyond the velvet rope, over the fence. Except it’s not a fence, it’s a labyrinth. I’ve hopped the first wall and faced with a maze of ego and barriers, with a sense that the real decisions are being made from the watchtowers. Concentric circles of power and influence – Parties -> negotiators -> EU issue leads -> EU negotiators -> Heads of delegation -> ministers -> Heads of State. Ever contracting and for a while I’ve felt like that influence front has passed me by and I’m now in the rain shadow of power. Feeling increasingly insignificant.

It’s easy to fall prey to criicising those lower down the food chain than you, to mock their sense of self-importance. But the reality is that it hides my sense of self-importance and the fact that my ego feels bruised. There is a genuine sense of disempowerment and acceptance of the state of affairs, but there’s also an ego-driven part of me that wants to play the part.
Now all of this sounds terribly pessimistic, like nothing we do matters, but that’s not true. Nothing most of us do matters here in this forum, but imagine if the energy, passion, creativity and commitment on display here was directed to places that really mattered, where change is possible. What a world we’d live in. But to get there we need individually to look inside and ask ourselves “what am I doing here?” “is this the best place for me to contribute?” “am I here for my ego or to create real change?” “where am I best placed to stimulate change?”. Time to pause. Appreciate the stillness, get perspective. Time to take stock.