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Copenhagen Closeups: 1,000’s Excluded from ‘Bella of the Beast’Print

Clean Energy | December 15, 2009 | By Brian Beauchamp

Massive lines and huge crowds surrounded the Bella Center this morning, and even for those who braved the cold in order to get inside, many were turned away at the door.  It’s unclear exactly why this is happening, but one reason is that governments from around the world have sent far more delegates than have ever before attended a COP meeting-a once a year international gathering of climate experts and insiders.

Lines a half mile long and six across surround the Bella Center in Copenhagen as security tightens and entry into the conference is significantly restricted for the rest of the climate summit.

As a result, non-governmental organizations, teams of scientists, and policy outsiders (as it were) are being forced to find refuge outside of the climate summit.  350.org, the NGO that I am accredited with who brought 350 people to Copenhagen under their banner is now reduced to only allowing 10 accredited members inside.

If rumors are true, by Friday of this week-the day the President Obama is set to speak– only 90 of the thousands of non-governmental employees, many of whom traveled halfway around the globe to be here, will be given access into the building.

For the most part, everyone is taking the news in stride.  In fact, some are calling it a blessing in disguise.  It’s so easy to get swept away with the chaos inside the conference center that it can be rather distracting due to the high volume of people bustling from one meeting to the next.

As a result of not getting in the Bella many NGO’s, bloggers, youth groups, and others are now finding each other and setting up conference rooms and meeting centers all over the city.  They are planning for the rest of their time here together and growing the foundation of the international climate movement, which has converged in Copenhagen this week, and looking ahead for what happens once this gathering is over.

At the Fresh Air Center-a service area provided by the campaign www.tcktcktck.org where I am writing from-provides a safe haven from the rain and snow. Here bloggers and journalists from literally every corner of the world are sharing resources, ideas, and contact information as news and updates from inside negotiations is aired on televisions and internet feeds streaming in mega-loads of bandwidth to the information craved masses.

Along with all of the side meetings outside the conference, many side events are also in the works.  A climate fast is being planned for this Thursday to draw attention to the famine and drought that is already causing strife and unrest in certain parts of the world as a result of a warming planet.  The Yes Men are adding to their infamy here in Copenhagen with staged events and press conferences drawing attention to the bad players inside talks that are thwarting progress toward a binding agreement.

In addition to the incredible networking that is happening here, many people are taking time to learn more about the science of global warming as the largest convening of scientists on the subject are also here to share the most recent research from all over the world.  What they have to share is startling.

One major study released this week in conjunction with the COP15 climate conference by The Secretariat of the Convention of Climate Diversity highlights the direct connection between CO2 emissions and the acidification of the world’s oceans.  The study concludes that at current rates of CO2 emissions acidification of the seas will increase by 150 percent by 2050, a rate that is 100 times greater than anything that has occurred in the last 20 million years-an impact that will be irreversible in tens of thousands of years.

Authors of the new report refer to ocean acidification as “global warming’s evil twin,” stressing that it is equally important as a global problem.

All the more reason to keep pushing for a fair, ambitious, and binding climate agreement this week in Copenhagen.  It’s time to bend the trend and reduce CO2 to save our oceans and ourselves.  Times a tickin’!  The question is how will leaders respond?  I guess we’ll know by the end of this week.