At the dawn of the 21st century’s second decade, 25 832 globe-trotters invade Dodgy City. Staying fourteen days, for the West-Gondwanaland Climate Change Conference.
‘Developing country awarded the CCC,’ the Global Thymes announced, two years before.
The famous D.C. International Airport runway points straight at the Fantastic Ocean. Planes take off and land over the sea. Between the runway and the ocean, a few suburban streets crawl. A strip of dwanabush, and a beach, starched in white, complete the buffer.
‘Our beaches are not as broad as they used to be, in my younger days,’ said Vernang Kugelwana, in a quivering 82 year-old voice, to an eco-journalist.
Balance sought between adaptation & mitigation
The conference aims to enhance the understanding and management of climate change. A balance will be sought between adaptation and mitigation strategies. The co-operation of as many countries as possible will be a high priority, with organisers and lobby groups wanting a ‘Brand New Deal For Our Earth.’
Two delegates meet at the sundowner cocktail party at the end of Day 3.
‘Hi, I’m Vanla, how are you?’ Rimless spectacles are adjusted, left thumb hooked into cargo trousers’ pocket.
‘I’m well, thank you, Somar’s my name. How have you enjoyed the first three days?’
Turning to face one another, Piña Colada and Martini in hand. Mussels. Cream cheese. Crackers.
77 000 tons of CO2
‘It’s been interesting. Catering, accommodation, organisation have been fabulous so far. My piña colada is divine, after such a long day! I am worried about the conference’s carbon footprint, though. I’ve heard that a projected 77 000 tons of CO2 will be our legacy, 80% of which emanating from air travel alone. This represents around 0.3% of Dodgy City’s annual carbon footprint. With a population of 3 million.’
Soft voice, with brown eyes shifting to the horizon.
‘It’s all covered: the government will monitor and evaluate the net carbon footprint. The newly-formed City Council-Dodgywana Conservation Trust has established a voluntary offset mechanism, called Dodgy Credits. Organised business will also contribute to the offset initiative. The economic injection of the conference is estimated at between $80million and $100million.’
Somar’s posture straightens, eyes meeting Vanla’s face.
‘Oh, that sounds quite organised.’ Vanla’s gaze skips to the cargo ships, waiting to enter Dodgy harbour.
‘Will you be buying some Dodgy Credits, though, Vanla?’
‘No, I don’t think so, my country is the fourteenth greenest.’
‘Really? On which index? And how did you travel to the conference? By bicycle?’ Somar smiles, while he frowns slightly.
‘Excuse me, I have a prior engagement,’ Vanla says, before getting up and walking away.
On Day 4, Haöx Hammerskjðld, an ex-actor from Schmalzweld, termed as a developed nation, is a key note speaker and work session facilitator. She charges US$ 1 800 per attendee for her five-hour work session. This includes lunch, refreshments, and some DVDs of her activities. Also a red and green, branded backpack, sporting the conference’s official logo – an outline of the endangered Dodgy Mackerel. Clothing, caps, stationery and computer peripherals.
The work session was originally to be an exclusive, intimate affair for 5 000 delegates only. However, the demand forced organisers to accommodate the extra 3 704 attendees.
During the conference the international convention centre sold 62 500 beverages and 59 130 meals, to delegates. 9 200 kilograms chicken, 2 700 kilograms beef, 1 250 kilograms hake and 1 920 kilograms lamb. Bio-degradable packaging was used, including bio-degradable cutlery, tooth picks and serviettes. 2 760 official meetings were held during the conference.
Recyclable materials from the conference totalled 34 360-kilograms, avoiding estimated CO2 emissions of 42 792-kilograms, had these materials been landfilled. 590 000 chewy peppermints. 73 200 branded pens. 334 000 litres of bottled water.
The last plane glides over the dark blue ocean, caressing the fading moon. Seagulls caw their farewell, perched in clear skies.
Sam’s car crawls uphill along the road between the airstrip and the beach. The family’s vehicle, a thirteen-year-old sedan with a full service record, has clocked up 289 567 kilometres. Sam supports three children, a spouse and two grandparents. The employer feeding the family, will close down in nine months’ time. This is due to commitments made by West-Gondwanaland CCC delegates.
Sam’s child sits directly behind the driver’s seat, opens a window slightly. Throws out an empty plastic cooldrink bottle, just as they pass Mpho. Mpho, meaning ‘gift’, pulls a cart with meshed iron sides.
This cart supports nine people, by collecting plastics, glass, and cans, for recycling. Wheeled from suburb to suburb, beating the municipal collection truck.
Kneeling, picks up the bottle. Throws it into the recycling cart, stares at the last plane’s thick fantail of fumes, growing from the engines.
I wonder how it feels to fly, Mpho thinks. Looks for the next refuse bin.
Headlines appear around the world:
- ‘West Gondwana Conference fails to bring new deal for Earth’
- ‘Dangerous decisions: was W-Gondwana our last chance?’
- ‘No bio-degradables composted – Dodgy CCC green-washing’
- ‘Why Dodgy City deal is different’
- ‘Betrayal of life: Climate catastrophe invited by W-G Conference’
- ‘Dodgy Credit lip service – Conference chokes environment’
- ‘Polluticians: Polluters merge with politicians at West Gondwana conference’
- ‘Blame game leads to suicide pact – W-Gondwana disappoints’
- ‘Conference recyclables dumped – waste shock’
- ‘Current climate commitments may still lead to 5˚C by 2100: Agriculture – The End.’
By Werner Schmidt, January 29, 2014
Werner Schmidt is a friend, spouse, father, writer, storyteller, leadership consultant, singer-songwriter, universal lover, and so on.
You can find him at: