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Climate talks rare mishmash of all sorts

There are few places in the world where you might walk past Prince Charles, Barack Obama and Sean Penn in the space of an hour.

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COP21 – the insider name for major United Nations climate talks in Paris – is one of them.

A makeshift conference centre on the fringes of Paris has hosted 40,000 people from across the world for almost two weeks.

The 195 nationalities are well represented, which in itself creates a fascinating milieu as people share stories and ideas from home.

The UN bubble also temporarily houses some of the world’s top scientists, academics and diplomats, while lending space to activists, green groups and young aspiring politicians.

High profile leaders, like Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama, were there for day one to deliver national statements alongside around 150 others.

Prince Charles has made an appearance, as has Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin and Richard Branson.

There’s also 3000 journalists, photographers and cameramen.

It’s the high-level negotiations on a potential global climate change deal that bring the tens of thousands to the little-known Paris suburb of Le Bourget.

Negotiators have spent hours in large halls filled with rows of desks brandishing country name tags and shoot-off meeting rooms with blank walls.

But the venue, which has its own souvenir shop and could be the centre of a small town, has more going on than painstaking diplomacy.

Each country has it’s own pavilion – some understated and some lavish.

The resources poured into the stall doesn’t appear to reflect the country’s commitment to climate change.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt seems proud Australia didn’t bother decorating its space – bragging that not one taxpayer dollar had been spent on glitz.

India wins the title of most impressive pavilion.

It boasts a spectacular water feature that display the words “India @ COP21 Paris” and “Fifth largest wind energy producer in the world”.

Inside, its sci-fi looking display points to the nation’s wind and solar investment through flashy television screens.

Germany has arguably the most popular stall, but that may be because the nation offers free coffee from a restaurant-quality machine – which is sorely lacking elsewhere in the centre.

On the walk in each morning, conference goers are confronted with two options: free apples or free chocolate.

Of course, the “change chocolate” is carbon neutral. And you can opt for both.

“This change chocolate is our gift to you for making sweet climate history in Paris,” the inside of the wrapper reads.

There are demonstrations, although small, and hundreds of young people eagerly anticipating the final agreement.

Australian Youth Climate Coalition member Jaden Harris, 20, is one of them. He’s in Paris to tell leaders they need to do more.

“If we don’t take action now we’ll be the ones who have to clean up the mess,” he told AAP.

Raphaelle, from the French Young Greens, is one of dozens walking around the conference with a black ring painted over one eye.

She tells AAP it’s to “look negotiators in the eye” and call for net zero emissions by 2050.

The thousands of journalists sprawl over two levels of desks and lamps, but the workspace is accompanied by a lounge zone for relaxed meetings and the occasional much-needed nap.

But it’s the negotiators who are likely the most tired, with talks going through the night and speculation they won’t end by the deadline of Friday night.

At the heart of it all are two documents known as the draft texts, which have been whittled down from 54 to 29 pages over 10 long days and nights.

The final words in those documents will determine if the world will be finally bound to reduce global carbon emissions.

COP21 President Laurent Fabius summed it up on Wednesday.

“We’ve made progress but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said.

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