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NGOs denied access to COP15

17 December 2009 2 Comments
The COP15 negotiations are entering their final stages, but space is limited so NGOs are being forced out as heads of states arrive in big numbers. Jeppe Funder & Rune Langhoff report.

The Bella Centre's capacity is forced to the limits as heads of state arrive. Picture: Jeppe Funder.

The Bella Centre's capacity is forced to the limits as heads of state arrive. Picture: Jeppe Funder.

Californian ‘governator’ Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the building at the COP15 as leaders of the big nations are starting to arrive. President of the European Union Commission José Manuel Barroso has arrived, China’s premier is expected on the 17th and Obama is scheduled to arrive on the 18th.

But with the new arrivals, the Bella Centre’s maximum capacity of 15,000 people is being streched above and beyond its limits, as 45,000 people have applied for permission to attend the conference.

This has lead to the NGOs at the conference being removed from the conference. They have – until now – had complete access to the venue to promote their messages. But as of Wednesday some of the NGO-workers won’t set foot inside the Bella Center again as more than 80 per cent of some NGO personnel are denied access, because delegates are arriving in big numbers.

“More and more of us are being excluded with numbers increasing each day and only 20 per cent of the organisation have access now,” said Emily Mulligan, 350.org Australian Policy Advisor. She explains that the exclusions have led the movement to unite further and to spread its efforts outside of offical UNFCCC frameworks.

“It is interesting that so many NGO delegates were accredited and made the effort to come to Copenhagen freezing to f***ing death, when at the crucial last moments the UN saw fit to simply remove us from the process,” said Mulligan. She added, “Other interests are over represented within the Bella Centre, whereas it seems that those argueing on behalf of the science and our environment are excluded from the process.”

A total of 3,500 journalists are now accredited, and according to the UN no more accreditations for media personel will be issued.

According to the newest press release from the UNFCCC the Danish Government and NGO network, People’s Climate Action, are organising an alternative venue for the NGO-workers denied entry to the Bella Center. This will be held at the Forum Copenhagen near Copenhagen’s city center.

“Many NGOs have simply lost faith in the official channels; the UNFCCC is providing a live stream of events, but often times a twitter feed provides more diverse and up to date information,” said Mulligan.

The entrance to the Bella Center has been under massive pressure for the last three days. As there is only one entrance for all NGOs, press, and non-VIP delegates, and because the accreditation process has been slow, waiting periods of 3-4 hours and as high as 7 hours have been business as usual.

Negotiations inside the venue are moving ahead with the heads of state in attendance. With just two days left, the lead negotiator, COP15-Minister Connie Hedegaard, has officially stepped down and has been replaced by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen as negotiations enter the ‘high level’ phase. However, Hedegaard has been appointed special advisor and will still be leading the behind-the-curtain talks with big CO2 players such as the US, India, and the G77, representing developing countries and China.

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