Wednesday, December 16, 2009


There have been protests here at the Bella Center since the first days of the conference last week. At that time, they were harmless stunts that were funny to watch but didn't get in anyone's way and were only trying to make a point. As the days have progressed the volume and antagonism have grown steadily.

Outside there have been marches and periodic outbreaks of violence since Sunday. Inside, the impression is that the UN Security staff are very tense and worried about the number of heads of state that are arriving in the next couple of days. Rumor has it that some of the NGO's represented here have had their credentials taken away because of some of the protest actions they have been a part of.

At the same time, the UN seriously underestimated the people that were coming and staying at the conference. Every day since Monday they have announced new restrictions on who could get into the conference center itself. At first we had to get "secondary badges" to restrict the number of people allowed inside from each delegation. Some of the AAG group got caught in this crunch and had a very difficult time getting in for two days, others have been unable to get in at all. Today they restricted the total number of people from NGO's (we count as an NGO) to half of what they had been allowing in up to this point. Not coincidentally, all the NGO's have been kicked out of the Plenary Halls where the heads of state are making their speeches.

This morning the UN announced that tomorrow the total number of people from NGO's allowed inside the building will drop to a thousand (from a max of 14,000 on Monday). Some very big names indeed will be here tomorrow in the Plenary Hall but they will have a modest audience in the room itself. About an hour ago, a couple of people (unclear who they are) got up from their seats in the Plenary Hall just as Australia's Climate Change Minister was set to give a speech as representative of the "Umbrella Group," and informal group of non-European industrialized nations which includes the U.S. They stood up and started shouting "climate justice now," "stop green capitalism'' and "climate change is a disaster" bringing the proceedings to a crashing halt while alarms went off and security quickly wrestled them out of the room.

I suspect that one of the ancillary effects of today's protests both within and outside the Bella Center will ultimately have the effect of ensuring that UN security forces keep nearly everyone out of the Bella Center but dignitaries for the last two days of the conference. Throughout the two week conference we have heard time and time again speakers pronounce the words "the world is watching us". As pressure builds and time ticks away, the world watches and its leaders are in the spotlight - alone.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you and Mark aren't left out in the cold for the rest of the week! I have been enjoying the updates and I am excited to read about what happens in the next few days. Take care.


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