Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Limited Access, Mysterious Texts, and Bomb Threats

Today was the second day where access was limited to 30% of the registered NGOs, and tensions were running high. At a large concert last night, the Yes Men and other organizers announced protests outside the Bella Center beginning at 10 AM. One policeman told Alex that 80% of Denmark’s police force is here in Copenhagen, and the  plan was to disallow NGOs from entering the building after 10 AM – even if they had the secondary cards. When we arrived at 8 AM, we were rerouted to nearby train stations as the Bella Center was closed. With in an hour, many people marched out of the Bella Center to “be with the people.”  Thousands were stopped outside and it took hours before the protest was peaceful again. AB will post pictures of the protest and water cannon truck.  Many NGOs were concerned that the Friends of the Earth and Avaaz (who are responsible for the Fossil of the Day award) were not allowed into the Bella Center because of security concerns. There is a sense that the civil observers are being left out of the process and that there is little transparency.

In terms of the negotiating tracks, it’s hard to explain the events of today. I left at 11:00 PM last night from the “Closing Plenary” for LCP and, after a few hours of sleep, got up early to get in around 8 AM with AB and DH.  As of last night, the general sense was that the KP and LCA texts were not ready to send to the ministers. The negotiators, in the meantime, worked on the texts until 7 AM! But early in the day, there was a mysterious “third text” referred to by the Danish chairman. Many of the Parties have been responding throughout the day, making it clear that they will only support texts that come out of the two processes. Apparently, this is a version of the same ‘text’ that was leaked at the beginning of the process (in the first days of the conference). The US and UK are thought to have had a role to play in this debacle.

Meanwhile, we have had the opportunity to go to speeches by Senator Kerry and Bolivian president, Eva Morales. There still seems to be a genuine desire for some politically binding agreements to take shape before the end of the week, and for a second conference, possibly as early as June 2010, to deliver legally binding agreements. Kerry’s speech can be found at

Security is really strict, although not always consistent. Although we had two passes for the plenary, all NGOs were actually denied entry after the first hour or so. [DH was able to enter earlier, but they changed the rules for the second session after a security breach by two members of the “Green Team.”] But a few of us were lucky to get into the nearly deserted reception area where we watched the Presidents and heads of state arrive one after the other with their motorcades and then enter the hall within feet of us. We played a game “Who is this head of state?” and enjoyed conversation for a couple of hours with an international environmental lawyer and a PhD student.  Meanwhile, Twitter and emails were flying that the central train station downtown was closed, and that all trains were being stopped and checked. I checked with the Transportation desk here at Bella Center, and learned that the train station is now open, but that there had been a bomb threat. We’re looking forward to heading back to our lodgings by train around 11 PM.

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