I’m not really sure what my expecations were coming to the global conference on climate change in Copenhagen but I know that today turned out to be nothing like them, whatever they were!
This has been a hugely anticipated conference, in the planning for years, talked about for years. Organisers knew the interest was going to be phenomenal, that there would be a cast of manymany thousands.
They knew but they didn’t know what they should have knew. The last few days have been a mess. The Bella Centre, a conference centre in the suburbs, has a capacity of 15,000. With 45,000 people registered, there was always going to be a problem.
My first sighting of the mercurial French agrarian campaigner, Jose Bove, was of him in the middle of his sit-down protest in support of Friends of the Earth. The entire FOE delegation was excluded from the building which was a disgrace. People enduring waits of between five and eight hourse in freezing conditions was also a disgrace. As were the ugly scenes we saw this morning when Danish police drew batons and released teargas. We were essentially trapped in the Bella Centre for this but there were lots of people saying afterwards that the police had over-reacted.
It’s all been a massive diversion from the real nub. And that’s the lack of progress in the talks. No substantial progress has been made in the past 24 hours as delegations and groupings continue to wrangle and bicker over texts. There was an all-night plenary session last night with the goal or removing brackets (they offer different options, softer and harder, for remedial actions) but the session ended with even more brackets in the documents.
Why should the EU sign up for a second stint of Kyoto and all its binding agreements while the same time the US and China escape scot-free?
Of course, the industrialised North needs to stump up the funds to mitigate and adapt, in order to achieve climate justice. But finding a solution to that in terms of funding commitments is so fractious and complicated, that I just don’t think it can be pulled off this week.
CLIMATE CELEB SPOTTING
Arnold Swharzenneger was around this morning but I missed him because I was queuing up for my accreditation (long enough for me not to be able to feel my toes any more). I did see Senator John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate, not once but twice. The second time he was hosting a press conference.
He knows his stuff on climate change. He’s also highly confident that the climate change bill will pass through the Senate before the summer. The big problem in the US, says Kerry, is finding a way of putting a price on carbon.
The centre is like the worldwideweb come to life. I don’t mean that in a good way. There are stands from every conceivable country, NGO, company, cause and interest. All have voluminous literature and violently competing slogans. Then there are the earnest young campaigners doing their flying picket thing in every corner of the complex. It’s just too much to take in in one day, like trawling through every single result on a popular google search.