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EPISODE – X
TOPIC: A fly-on-the-wall look at Pakistan’s disappointing start at COP21
WRITER: RINA SAEED KHAN (environmental journalist based in Islamabad)
READ BEFORE YOU PROCEED:
D2G wears no responsibility of the views published here by the respective Author. This Editorial is used here for Study Purpose. Students are advised to learn the word-meaning, The Art of Writing Skills and understand the crux of this Editorial.
MEANINGS are given in BOLD and ITALIC
After months of tedious preparation, I finally landed in Paris this past weekend to attend the UN Climate Change Conference 2015 (or COP21 since this is the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties).
The night before the conference was scheduled to start; Paris bore (You describe someone as a bore when you think that they talk in a very uninteresting way.) a deserted and somewhat desolate (A desolate place is empty of people and lacking in comfort.) look. People in the city are still in mourning after the terrorist attacks that hit the city two weeks ago.
I walked to the River Seine from my hotel near the Notre Dame Cathedral — usually a popular tourist attraction. Instead of throngs (crowd) of tourists descending from large coasters (ship), I found sombre-looking (sad looking) Parisians lining up to enter the Cathedral for an evening sermon that paid tribute to the citizens killed by the terrorists.
The city is still under a state of emergency and with more than 150 heads of states expected for the opening ceremony of COP21 the next day, the security was tight.
Around 2,000 policemen were patrolling the streets of Paris and with many roads blocked, I guess most people decided to stay home this particular Sunday night. It was sad to see the normally bustling (A place that is bustling with people or activity is full of people who are very busy or lively.) city of lights looking so empty and forlorn (If someone is forlorn, they feel alone and unhappy. (LITERARY)).
The COP21 is to be a decisive (there will be a particular result) summit where countries are expected to agree to a new global deal to tackle climate change.
Scientists say that if we cannot restrict global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the world will face ‘catastrophic’ (disastrous) climate change — we are already almost half way there as the world has warmed 0.85 degrees Celsius.
Some experts are calling this conference, “the last chance for humanity” and media from all across the world has flown in to Paris to cover this important negotiation.
The next day there was a buzz (If people are buzzing around, they are moving around quickly and busily. (WRITTEN)) of positive energy emanating (radiate) from the Le Bourget — the venue of the conference in the north of the city. Trains leaving for the centre were packed with delegates from around the world.
An expected 40,000 delegates (from NGOs, media houses, businesses and government-led delegations from 190 countries) were expected to attend the conference.
The roads were blocked for VIP movements as heads of states moved to the conference centre rather early in the morning to be received by the French Prime Minister, Francois Hollande.
I thought I had managed to arrive early, but the queues (A queue is a line of people ) for registration were already quite long.
As we alighted (When you alight from a train, bus, or other vehicle, you get out of it after a journey. ) from the special buses transporting us to Le Bourget from the train stations, a group of ‘angels’ wearing large white wings greeted us on the steps of the conference centre. These were activists who had traveled from places as far as Australia, urging humanity to save the planet.
The night before, I had seen Sir David Attenborough’s interview on TV. The most famous naturalist and nature broadcaster in the world told the interviewer that the climate conference in Paris is “almost the last chance” to get a handle on climate change.
He was upbeat (positive) about the outcome of the conference, saying, “I sense a realisation among people and politicians worldwide that this is real, this is it, something has to be done.”
I felt exactly the same, walking through the large conference centre that was teeming with people (crowded with people) from all over the world. The energy was palpable (You describe something as palpable when it is obvious or intense and easily noticed.) and the presence of so many heads of states had made it even more exciting.
I headed towards the Pakistani pavilion which was basically a small booth with a tiny Pakistani flag on it; later I visited the Indian pavilion which was a sleek (If you describe someone as sleek, you mean that they look rich and stylish.) , hi-tech affair with a dancing water fountain. I know comparisons are unfair, but Indians really know how to project their image in large international gatherings.
There were just a handful of Pakistani journalists covering COP21 and they spent the morning chasing him around Le Bourget, hoping to get him to give an impromptu press conference since none had been planned.
Then came his by now ‘famous’ handshake and chat with Indian PM Narendra Modi after which the Indian media, which was covering the conference in large numbers, also joined in the chase, hoping to get Nawaz Sharif to reveal what had been discussed, but to no avail (fails to achieve).
Modi later inaugurated the Indian pavilion and took ‘selfies’ with the people present there. President Obama was also spotted in the hallways surrounded by hordes of reporters.
I managed to miss them all and so was told to sit outside the plenary (A plenary meeting is one that is attended by everyone who has the right to attend.) where the Leaders Event of the conference was taking place (I could not enter with my media badge). I finally got lucky as I was allowed to enter before Nawaz Sharif gave his speech around 5.30 pm.
While waiting for his speech, I heard King Abdullah speak as he touched upon the subject of Syrian refugees being hosted by his country, and the water-related problems they are facing in Jordan.
He was followed by the new prime minister of Canada, Justine Trudeau. “Canada is back as the climate leader,” he announced in his charming manner and the audience burst into applause.
I walked over to where our own premier was sitting and asked if I could take a picture, to which he agreed – he looked a bit exhausted (tired) and sure enough he took less than three minutes to give his speech before hurrying off to the airport to go home.
By the time I got back to my seat and got a hold of my notebook, his speech was over!
I was saddened when Nawaz Sharif barely touched upon Pakistan’s vulnerability, and presented no vision for action to be taken at the national level. Other world leaders gave ambitious targets in comparison and managed to explain their country’s positions adequately.
Two weeks prior to the conference, the PML-N government appointed a new Minister for Climate Change, Zahid Hamid, a very competent lawyer who is now heading the 20-strong Pakistani delegation.
After submitting its disastrous ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ document ahead of the Paris conference, and receiving a lot of criticism, it was hoped that the Government of Pakistan would get its act together by the start of COP21.
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