Chaos has broken out both inside and outside of the Bella Center as access restrictions have gone into effect at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and negotiations have been delayed due to protests by developing nations.
The Bella Center has the capacity to hold 15,000 participants, yet the UN has officially registered forty thousand participants. The poor planning has caused considerable disorder, infuriating those who flew great distances to attend (and sometimes host events) and were refused entry. And, as of today, observer organizations (of which I, myself, am included), are no longer allowed access altogether.
Last week seemed relatively orderly as delegations, press, and observer organizations (including businesses, universities and NGOs) arrived to receive their official conference badges. However, due to the high level segment of the conference beginning this week, many organizations and delegations decided to wait to send their conference attendees until this past weekend. As a result, hundreds of people were left outside in the cold - some for 10 hours - waiting to get inside to receive their badges. In addition, some of the more vocal NGOs, such as Friends of the Earth, have been banned altogether from entrance into the building.
Inside the Bella Center things have become equally chaotic as representatives from small island nations and other poor countries have managed to suspend negotiations periodically throughout their week as they continue to demand that the Kyoto Protocol remain intact and that rich countries commit to tougher targets. While the target going into Copenhagen has been to limit the global temperature increase of 2°C, this rise in temperature will still see the complete disappearance of several island nations such as Tuvalu. Furthermore, many developing countries fear that scrapping Kyoto will make it even more difficult to reach even the 2°C target (see my blog about this here
The delayed negotiations have led to over-night plenary sessions with long waits as (at least rumour has it) the recently released texts are being completely re-written due to negotiator demands that entire paragraphs be stripped and most of the remaining text is bracketed.
In the meantime, over 110 Heads of State are arriving in Copenhagen for the high-level portion of the conference, which means that delegations must switch their focus away from the negotiations and instead toward their government officials. Delegation negotiations were to have already been wrapped up by the time Heads of State arrive, yet, as it stands, more work is left to be done.
A politically-binding agreement seems far out of reach at this stage and there are only two days left to go. While by the end of this weekend, some Heads of State (such as by the US, UK, and Denmark) may declare that an agreement on shared targets have been made, this will likely only be a diplomatic gesture and certainly not a vision shared by both developing and developed nations.
And, despite my complaints about fifteen hour days inside the Bella Center, I would gladly go back since, as of earlier this week, myself and all of my colleagues have been left out in the cold.