Fears are growing that a COP18 delegate, missing since Friday afternoon, may have perished, alone and lost somewhere in the bowels of the gigantic Qatar National Convention Centre. According to colleagues, the negotiator left their delegation office at around 1pm because they were due in a negotiation session on the other side of the building at 2.30pm, and it is widely known to take at least 1.5hours to walk from one end of the building to the other. Tragically, the delegate never arrived at the negotiation session, and colleagues raised the alarm shortly before nightfall. The delay in signalling the absence may be because the delegate is from a major developed country, whose negotiation team runs to thousands of members, making keeping track of personnel difficult.
Several theories abound as to what may have befallen the hapless delegate. The distances involved are known to be huge, and many delegates have followed safety advice by setting out to transfer between negotiating rooms only in convoys, employing local guides and taking emergency supplies of food and water. Although water stations are provided along the route, some commentators are saying that the stations may be too far apart or that the thirsty delegate may have arrived at one such oasis, only to find that it had run dry.
Others think that the delegate may have accidentally opened a door into a hitherto uncharted and unexplored zone of the conference centre, having become confused and disoriented on attempting to consult a hopelessly complex map board. As such the official may be still wandering alone in unknown corridors, desperately searching for an exit or any sign of human life. An exploration team is preparing to depart to the nether regions of the centre, although preparations have been delayed after an admission by the Qatari hosts that nobody has ever actually been to the far extremities of the building, and it is not known how far into the desert the seemingly endless series of cavernous conference halls may extend. This gives some credence to the rumour that the QNCC is the only man-made structure visible from Mars.
Optimists are still hoping for a happy outcome. Sources close to the delegation suspect that the negotiator may in fact have fled the country, disguised in a head-to-toe black burqa, overcome with a mix of unbearable frustration at the pace of the talks and a burning desire for a good glass of wine. If this is indeed the case, the negotiator’s Head of Delegation, speaking from a shuttle bus stuck that has been stuck in traffic since Thursday, has implored the delegate to get in touch to confirm their well-being (but to please not make us jealous about the wine).