As climate talks continued to creep forward and heads of state prepared to pose for a group portrait in the plenary hall of the meeting site, the Bella Center, a crowd of youth, activists, indigenous peoples, and perhaps some delegates, began a chant of "Climate Justice Now!" and "Reclaim Power!" in the middle of the Center's main space.
Hundreds of cameras came out (we spotted actress Daryl Hannah among the videographers -- see the second video, below) as the group began its march out of the center towards the gates of the building, where as many as 10,000 people were planning to meet them. But Danish police were out in force this morning, arresting at least a hundred and preparing to fend off other approaching demonstrators.
The action, dubbed Reclaim Power, was in part a protest against the unfair terms under which Western countries are negotiating -- with no plans for long-term climate aid finance for developing nations, and with meager carbon cuts. But it was also a protest against a new regime of access, under which the UN has restricted the number of NGO representatives permitted inside negotiations over the next few days, as heads of state arrive. Writes Jamie Henn of 350.org:
Yesterday, NGOs were allocated the "secondary badges" now necessary for entry for only about 20% of their participants. Tomorrow, the UN will only allow 1,000 civil society representatives into the talks. On Friday, only 90 were going to be allowed in, but representatives from the Climate Action Network and others argued security back up to 500.
Another development: Earlier this morning, UN officials, apparently acting pre-emptively in advance of a protest, confiscated credentials from members of the groups Avaaz and Friends of the Earth. Led by its leader, Nnimmo Bassey, the latter group subsequently staged a sit-in in the lobby, outside the entrance. Nick Berning of Friends of the Earth writes from the sit-in:
UN climate chief Yvo de Boer came out and spoke to us awhile ago and said he wanted to resolve the situation. A few of our representatives have gone to talk to UN officials while we sit here, but our lack of access remains unresolved.
The UN still has yet to give us a coherent reason for our having been denied access. We have been given different explanations by different officials: (1) we are a security threat or (2) there was no more room inside. It's hard to see how the "no room" explanation makes sense, as they continued to allow other NGO observers to enter even as we were denied access. And as for the security threat, we're a bunch of policy wonks and youth activists who have been participating in the negotiations every day for two weeks.
We've had both a member of the Norweigan and a member of the Canadian parliament come speak to us to lend us their support while we've been sitting here
One of the key roles Friends of the Earth has played at the conference has been to advocate for climate justice and the interests of the poor countries that have done the least to cause the climate crisis but will feel some of its strongest impacts. Negotiators from those countries are tremendously under-resourced here. For example, I've worked with negotiators who have no media officers (I do media work) to help them communicate their position. They are totally outgunned by the massive delegations of the rich countries, and now thanks to the UN's decision to exclude us, they will have even less support inside the Bella Center to fight for a fair agreement. It's really shameful.
The Climate Action Network, reports @kate_sheppard, stated that, "Excluding civil society ... is profoundly counterproductive to the spirit of the conference and the practical value of its outcome."
UPDATE: Karl Burkart bumps into Naomi Klein on the way out:
More to come.