Copenhagen Notebook

By Published On: December 18, 2009

The Copenhagen climate change conference hosts went to great lengths to be accessible, but in practice just raised expectations and tensions. More than 45,000 people applied for admission to the conference and at least 34,000 received accreditation, but only 15,000 are allowed in at any one time. Protesters have been given permits to march up to the Bella Center, but police keep them at bay, limiting delegates’ access to delegates and conference attendees. Members of NGOs have participated extensively, but have only been allowed to give 30 percent or fewer of their members access in the last days, with no access on Friday. Copenhagen tried to make this a climate-friendly conference. The metro stop is right outside the conference venue, frequent buses run to and from the city center, and a number of bikes are available to participants. But the bikes stand nearly unused in the freezing weather, locked in an orderly blue line in front of the Bella Center. The metro stop is often as not closed for security reasons and the bus stops farther away every day. A Christmas tree in front of the town hall is supposed to run off of the power of those biking beneath it, but on a recent visit the lights twinkled away as the bikes stood idle. Yet, despite the clichés that come to mind about the best laid plans and roads paved with good intentions, there is a palpable difference between this conference and last year’s, in Poznan, Poland. Here one can feel the expectations, not to say hope. The walkouts and disagreements show how much is at stake and the extent to which people realize that time is running out. By Elisa Walton Edited By

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