December 18, 2009
At every turn and in every direction, COP15 is a conference divided.
Before the conference began, it was about who could get in and who couldn’t. In the early days, it was the massive delays for staff from NGOs, the media and even delegates to get in to the building.
There were protests both in Copenhagen and at the Bella Center. Police were accused of excessive force as hundreds were arrested.
Then it became more restricted as the number of NGO staff was limited to just 300 – the heads of organisations only. Now, those ‘observers’ are based in another building in the centre of Copenhagen! They are no longer even at the event they are observing…
Yesterday, via a friendly connection at the Club de Madrid, your author and my colleague Daniela, were able to negotiate our way in to a private interview of about 30 minutes with the former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae. President Mogae now serves as UN Special Envoy to Climate Change.
To get in, we needed to speak to 4 separate press people (handlers, as I prefer to think of them), get an escort into the high-level section, and then into the Secretary General’s area. These places are not on the maps of the event and are very ‘invitation only’. In fact, the level of security just kept on growing as we passed through barrier after barrier and then close protection detail.
This is where the air is crisp and clear. No crowds. No press. No mayhem. Just quiet and serene.
In the room sat the former President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos – we had interviewed him a few hours earlier. Here he was relaxed, shook our hands and asked after our health. No policy discussion here, just relaxed conversation. A thorough gentleman.
To conduct the interview, we had somehow reserved a room (!!) so that we would have the quiet we needed. President Mogae was charming and professional.
But here we are on the last day of the conference and in the main plenary chamber, the leaders of the world are delivering their addresses. Even here, it is a divided conference. Some leaders arrived a day or two ago and have delivered their address. Now though, the big boys are in the building. America, China, Brazil, Japan, Korea, India, the EU and more.
A few are even taking the opportunity to speak more than once. Brazil and Bolivia both took their turn yesterday, but now need another chance. No wonder they are behind schedule…
The claims of commitment are reaching new highs and demands for action new levels of firmness. Will these eloquent words lead to anything?Author : Stuart Langridge