Copenhagen Climate Conference

Today was Day 1 for the EurActiv / Blogactiv team at the COP15 event in Copenhagen. Today is the day we had been waiting for.

And wait we did!

If you have read stories in your international newspapers about the time it has been taking people to get in to the event, I can confirm they are true. Yours truly took a little over 3 hours to get in and I know that I had it good!

Whilst waiting in the queue – and snow! – I had the chance to speak to a number of people that had waited in line for 8 or 9 hours yesterday (Monday) to get in.

It seems that belonging to an NGO is the worst possible situation here. Why? Because waiting for access on one day does not mean that you get to glide past the waiting masses the next. Oh no – if you are with an NGO, you can wait 8 hours for entry one day and then – potentially – another 8 hours the next day.

Even more bizarre, the organisational standards were significantly lacking, meaning that the wait is a polite form of chaos. Everyone is thrown into one of two lines. When I say everyone, I mean, everyone. If you can believe it, delegates have to wait like the rest of us, meaning that while negotiations are underway inside, some of the people doing the negotiating are stuck outside.

Isn’t it lucky that we are not here for something important…?

The lines are fenced in meaning that the experience does feel a little like being caged. To try and offer a little insight into the length of the lines, I took the following footage on the camcorder:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/7YiPno7Nbac" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Apologies for the fast movement, but there were a lot of people and I felt a little uncomfortable just filming them as they stood trapped.

Ironically, the delay seemed to be on the inside. For the numbers of people trying to get in, the number of support staff to help them was woefully inadequate. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it, but there was a ‘Helpdesk’ with just one position! And despite the hoardes of people outside in the freezing weather, the ‘Helpdesk’ was unmanned!!

It would be easy to imagine that anyone with any experience of process, be it in an office, a factory or a conference, would know the problems caused by a bottleneck. This was the Mother of All Bottlenecks.

More tomorrow…

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