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FRONTLINE/World,Carbon Watch

The Lunacy of the Last Day

Climate Watch Blog

December 22, 2009BY Andres Cediel

Even on a normal day in the Bella Center, we suffered from information overload: there was the official daily program, press conferences, side events and presentations by the country delegations all competing for time.

With 15,000 people buzzing through the complex, we seemed to bump into a story at every turn  at the cafe, in the coat check line, or from an unlikely tap on the shoulder. In the midst of this, the media center became a refuge of relative calm, as hundreds of journalists quietly typed, edited and filed their reports, trying to make sense of all the activity.

But just when we thought we knew what was going on, the whole dynamic changed on the last day. (See the video for that!) Now that the heads of state were in the building -- Jiabao, Obama, Lula, Chavez -- scheduled events were not just "subject to change," they seemed designed to deceive, sending journalists in one direction as VIPs headed in another.

The media began roaming in packs. We didn't always know whom we were trying to capture; we just knew we didn't want to miss it. After all, Obama would be speaking -- although we didn't know when -- and finally the "Deal or No Deal" issue would be resolved.

When he took the podium around midday, his speech created more questions than answers. The media center began to hum again and negotiators locked themselves behind closed doors. None of us would leave until well past midnight.

Days later, and we're still trying to decode the deal in Copenhagen.