Transparency & Civilian Participation Falls Apart at COP15

After a disappointing day for many of us, who waited in seemingly endless lines to nowhere, the COP has essentially come to an early end… at least for observers.

As anticipated, COP15 has become the most attended climate COP to date.   Unfortunately, the Bella Center in Copenhagen (capacity of 15,000) is not large enough to handle the overwhelming number of parties and observers that traveled to Copenhagen (over 30,000) to view history unfold.  Today at the COP, it was announced that a new system for entry would be instituted for the remainder of the convention.  As a result, our ability to observe has been significantly restricted.  The VLS delegation was issued only 4 secondary badges that we can use at any one time to enter the Bella center to view negotiation and side events.  However, even the secondary badges are not going to ensure our access. 

Beginning tomorrow, all non-governmental parties (NGOs, school groups, businesses, etc.) will be limited to only 7,000 observers total.  Allegedly this will continue through to Wednesday.  However everything changes on Thursday, when many Heads-of-State begin to arrive.

The non-governmental parties will be limited to only 1000 observers on a first-come, first-served basis.  Then on Friday, only 90 (yes……9-0) non-governmental observers will be granted access to the Bella Center!  We will continue to try and gain access to the negotiations but we are skeptical that this will be possible beyond Wednesday.

I am not alone in expressing my disappointment that the civilian groups have been essentially shut out of the international negotiation process.  Many NGO’s have begun circulating a formal petition to the United Nations expressing our demand that this process continue to remain open and transparent to all those who wish to take part.

We will continue to monitor all of the events of the COP, but as the week progresses, we will likely be relying heavily on secondary sources and news reports as opposed to our own first hand observations.  Needless to say, the lack of public access has become a major issue at COP15.  Throughout the last week, more and more negotiations were closed to observers.   As our own professor, Laurie Beyranevand, stated “What was supposed to be plastic wrap, has quickly turned to aluminum foil.”  Transparency seems all but gone for this convention but we still hope that a meaningful climate agreement can result from this COP.

I invite you all to continue to monitor our blog.  Despite our defacto-ban from the COP, we are committed to participating in the process as much as possible.  Tomorrow many of us will attend the alternative climate convention at the Klimaforum, which has been titled the “People’s Climate Summit” to view presentations about ecology and climate change.  While we are frustrated with the current situation, we remain hopeful.

For more information about the lack of public participation, check out Martin Wagner’s post on the Earthjustice Climate Summit Blog.