Nusa Dua, Bali: At first sight, the venue for the United Nations Climate Change Conference looks like a college campus: wide cobbled roads, clumsily made crayon-coloured posters, early morning joggers and lots of backpacks and neon-colouredbicycles. It is a campus under siege though.
The UN security detail has cordoned off Nusa Dua, where the fanciest hotels and spas in this island are located. Burly security guards with semi-automatic guns guard every entry to the convention hall. Every car is checked, every bag is frisked and then X-rayed. And sniffer dogs abound. Nusa Dua, thus, has been spared protesters and disruptions.
To promote a low-carbon lifestyle, the UN is also providing bicycles to participants, free. There are, however, few takers; most people prefer cabs.
Almost all of Bali is a sea of yellow. Every street and every corner sports yellow flags, notices and welcome banners. It is easy to get lost at first, as everything looks the same.
Delegates aren’t spared either. The moment they step off the plane, a yellow sticky note is affixed to them, branding them as an official attending the conference. Even this reporter was not spared.
Almost one-tenth of the passengers on the flight that this reporter took to Bali were delegates—all headed for the conference.
The volunteers for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change were quick to spot us and we were immediately shepherded to shuttle buses that ferried us to our respective hotels.
The temperature here has made the conference on global warming a truly “warming” experience for delegates. With day temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius and humidity around 80%, the most common complaint after “I thought lunch was free?”, is the one about the heat.
UN, taking note of the heat at the conference, has advised its staff that they do not need to wear the mandatory suit and tie during the conference. The air conditioning within the convention hall is also kept at a minimum, again to reduce energy consumption as much as possible.
The result: The corridors and halls of the conference are now dotted with delegates, journalists and observers in floral print Indonesian shirts and flip-flops. That’s a departure from the staid, grey look most international conferences wear.