The Conference of the Parties is a very serious ordeal. Anyone who has been in the plenary rooms for the negotiations will tell you that the tension can be cut with plastic butter knife and that every minute counts. This conference is one where one of the greatest issues, if not the greatest issue, of this century is being discussed and potentially solved. This does not mean that the 5,000 attendees are constantly stressed, over-worked, and fearful for what future warming may hold. Fun can still be had, smiles and laughs are still present, and most of the people here are apparent of one thing other than climate change- the COP20 tote bag is the souvenir to get from the Peruvian Information booth.
The bag is made out of recycled PET water bottles and features the COP20 logo. It is a hand tote that fits a 13” laptop perfectly and comes with several notebooks and a guide to some events happening throughout Lima over the span of COP. The bags are in high demand and in low supply, though. Only a few members of the Dickinson team were able to get them. This has led to lines, and frustration by hopeful toters when the information desk announces they have run out of the daily allotment. Other bags are given out, including one featuring a mountain scape of Peru and another slick gray bag with the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment’s crest subtly resting in the lower left corner.
The bag’s owners span the diverse gathering of COP attendees. From research students like myself, to members of NGOs and from activists to, negotiators and delegates this bags popularity has not been missed. So I thank the organizers of the COP for their introduction of this and many more elements that provide some fun to a place where critical conversations are had and pivotal decisions are made.