Whilst negotiations stalled within the Bella Centre, most of us in Copenhagen were waiting anxiously on the outside to find out what was happening. As of Tuesday, access to the talks has been severely restricted.
Although all CAFOD staff and volunteers had full accreditation, they implemented an additional tier so that only those with coveted secondary cards could get in, causing massive frustration. And since Heads of State arrived on Wednesday, the numbers allowed access diminish every day.
Not only are people asking why 45,000 were accredited when capacity is limited to 15,000 but there’s also concern about the degree to which civil society is being excluded from these crucial talks.
Many organisations have scrimped and saved and travelled great distances to be here and it seems very unjust to be turned away at the final hour.
Thousands of campaigners who were denied access are now mobilising at the KlimaForum, the people’s climate change summit, looking for opportunities to raise the profile of our demands on the outside.
There are informal huddles with everyone trying to find out ‘where it’s at’ and ‘what’s going on’. There are snippets of news and rumours from inside the summit, each of which is greeted by a flurry of questions and concerns.
On Tuesday, France and Ethiopia made a very weak and unambitious proposal, supposedly on behalf of Africa. But since when was France part of Africa? And did the proposal really come from all African nations? Many African ministers have since tried to distance themselves from the proposal.
On Wednesday the big story was the resignation of Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Chair of the COP. Many, including our own Prime Minister, said it was just a matter of procedure. But others, including many delegates from developing countries, said they knew nothing of the plans.
Every day there seem to be new texts appearing, mostly from non-transparent, closed groups. Understandably, delegates who have not been part of these discussions are asking what right others have to submit new texts at the last minute from behind closed doors.
But there’s been some glimmers of hope too, like the strength of Gordon Brown’s speech calling for real action and ambition, and Hillary Clinton’s announcement on US$100 billion.
However, as always, the devil lies in the detail, and what can seem like striding steps forward don’t always live up to careful scrutiny. In the case of the US announcement, it was sadly lacking in any commitment to the funds being additional to existing aid or being governed through the UN.
However, where the formal proceedings have been characterised by confusion and exclusion, outside, amongst the cold and the snow, civil society has come out in force. Joining together, and organising in an open and inclusive way to build the movement and keep up pressure on the politicians, it stands in start contrast to the formal negotiations.
Yesterday a Vigil for Survival was held in the alternative people’s summit, a beautiful and solemn event with speakers from communities affected by climate change and campaigners who have taken part in a 42-day Climate Justice fast.
And rather than the anger and frustration of the last few days, the message was one of hope and pride in the growing strength of the movement. As one speaker said, at Kyoto there were none of these issues of civil society access because there was hardly anyone from civil society there.
So whilst all the news coming out of the Bella Centre seems depressing and far from the fair, ambitious and binding deal we are calling for, on the outside we remain hopeful.
We may not get what we want in Copenhagen, and we know that time is short for those already affected by climate change, but we know that this is not the end. The world is watching and the world will hold those on the inside to account, to get the deal all of us so urgently need.
Posted by LucyH