Don’t follow the waving gloved hand.


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News Update: World Leaders arrive in Copenhagen today signalling the UN conference is gearing up for make-or-break finale. World leaders “face a defining moment in history”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as the Copenhagen conference formally entered its high-level stage CAT ran a very successful Zero Carbon event at the Klimaforum last night alongside Christine Milne from the Australian Greens, Gunner Boyle from INFORSE.

There has been so much news in Copenhagen today; I hardly know quite
where to start. For starters, last night saw a major a police
confrontation with the Christiania ‘independent community’. The Danes
have a general belief in tolerance and for many decades Christiania
has enjoyed widespread support from the local community to manage
their own affairs. As our accommodation was near the opera house, and
we had to pass Christiania on the way, my Slovakian colleague and I
called in around 10pm to have a take a look around the climate
exhibition and discussion forum they had on offer. We spent nearly an
hour looking around, there was music, people chatting, food, and
drink, but nothing out of the ordinary, but moments after we exited
onto the main street to walk the 1/2 mile or so back to our flat we
ran into a black wall of Danish ‘politi’ moving slowly and silently
towards us. We smiled, waved our conference badges and walked
confidently through the advancing phalanx. Within minutes we saw
flames, heard crashes as the ‘politi’ moved in. I understand this is
only the second time they have moved in to Christiania on mass, which
like the ‘pre-emptive’ arrests at the weekend has proved highly
controversial, causing much discussion.

Similarly events at the Bella Centre have also been causing much
controversy. It was announced at the week-end that everyone would now
need new ‘secondary passes’ from Tuesday, and that there would only be
30% issued for first day, this would then drop rapidly day upon day
with virtually no one allowed in on Friday. In addition to this,
something in the delegate entry system went badly, badly wrong. On
Monday morning everyone was made to queue together from the Bella
Centre metro stop, so VIP’s, and party delegates urgently trying to
attend negotiations were wrapped up with new arrivals waiting to
register. I personally saw a very frustrated Nicolas Stern trapped in
the middle of a sea of very frustrated people, desperately trying to
explain to the security services he was already registered and was
needed urgently inside. I estimate it would have taken me three or
four hours to get in to the centre if I had joined that queue. Instead
I walked back along the road to the nearest traffic lights and waited
for the special COP15 bus, which I couldn’t help noticing was being
allowed to drive right up to the entrance, so its passengers allowed
straight in. Human logistics in not hard, the solution would have been
very simple; three entries, one for already registered delegates
(because they ‘DO’ actually have to be able to get in there to allow
the COP to function), one for already registered NGOs and observers,
and one for the great as yet un-registered’ masses. I heard today the
authorities had closed the Bella Metro station completely, that must
have really sent things crazy.

All in all, at both ends of the COP15 spectrum events seem to have
stirred up a lot of angst, frustration and controversy. Sadly this
has only served to distract the attention of the delegates, observers,
NGO,s environmentalists, media and general public away from the real
matter in hand. The drama of the past 24 hours is somewhat reminiscent
of the flamboyant gloved right hand of the magician, distracting and
diverting our attention from where the real action is.

Let’s hope we can all hold our cool, and keep our eye on the only real
game in town. Despite the drafts, blueprints and proposals, the COP15
climate conference is gripped by serious deadlock, with only day’s
left to make a quantum leap. The scale of the commitments to date pale
in to insignificance set against the scale of the rhetoric. So far, no
real leadership has emerged; so far negotiators have failed to agree
the financial aid for the majority world to cope with climate change,
nor the mechanisms for managing its equitable distribution. Even the
normally upbeat German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced her concern
about the pace of the negotiations saying “it’s Tuesday already and we
want to be done on Friday”. She also admitted to being “somewhat
nervous” about prospects of success.

Connie Hedegaard, Minister for COP15 summed up the mood very well in
her blog; “There are moments in history where the world can choose to
go down different paths. The COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen is
one of those defining moments: We can choose to go down the road
towards green prosperity and a more sustainable future. Or we can
choose a pathway to stalemate and do nothing about climate change
leaving an enormous bill for our kids and grand-kids to pay. It really
isn’t that hard a choice.”

Amidst the frenzy, we must remain calm and keep our focus squarely on
the urgent and binding duty of the political leaders, delegates and
heads of state to reach a real, evidence based, agreement capable of
keeping us all below that vital two degree threshold!
Paul Allen, 10:20 PM 15th Dec.