December 16, 2009
By David Simpson and Jane Lapiner
A wet snow fell in Copenhagen last night, dusting the streets and putting an added new chill in the air. In the collective houses, houseboats and apartments of Chistiana, Copenhagen’s fabled squatter enclave, thousands of activists who have been marching and demonstrating throughout the city have been waiting eagerly for this day. Their numbers may have been slightly decimated during the night. Police raids on Wednesday night resulted in 200 arrests or detainments. The activists are expecting a lot more before they deploy today in their efforts to disrupt the conference. This is supposed to be their big push.
It is rumored that the police raids the night before last were mainly directed at confiscating the tools that activists have stockpiled to enable them to cut fences, climb walls or whatever else they think they need to penetrate the dense security surrounding the Bella Center.
In an interesting side note, the Chief of Copenhagen Police on Sunday morning, after 1200 people had been arrested or detained as a consequence of the big march, said that he regretted any discomfort they had caused and that the police were sympathetic to the cause of the marchers.*
The action today has been long-planned. It is basically composed of two elements–a demonstration outside the center by activists not allowed in, and the second inside the center by those who have been accredited and possess the much-desired access cards hanging from a lanyard around their necks.
An action taken by the UN organizers, ostensibly to keep the numbers of attendees below the legal limit of 15,000 has become a factor. From the start, there have been three groupings of those in attendance—Delegates of the Parties, NGO Observers, and the Press, (the NGO’s were likely the most numerous). Starting on Monday, NGO leaders were given a limited number of daily passes to distribute to their membership. This number s going to decline every day until Friday when only a select few representatives of the NGO’s will be allowed into the Bella Center.
This previously unannounced radical reduction of NGO observers has set off further suspicions that the conference managers are trying to quell dissent in the likelihood that a very modest agreement is all that is finally reached. Such thought processes both accidentally acknowledge and overlook the fact that it has all along been the NGO’s—representatives of civil society—that have carried the world’s environmental agenda forward. Left to their own devices. governments and large business interests would have in all likelihood put half the world underwater by now.
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