Copenhagen, Denmark. Leaders of the world are currently huddled around in the Bella Center, but I’m back at the hotel. Not because I don’t want to be in the Bella Center with them, but because I couldn’t get in today. Protesters have been assaulting the Conference since early morning and the surrounding area has turned into a virtual warzone. All of the carefully planned city-wide shuttles have stopped service and, as of about noon, no one has been allowed to enter or leave the Bella Center. The outskirts of the center have transformed from a pleasant transportation depot, to a maze of fencing and rioting demonstrators. Armed guards are employing water cannons, dogs and even tear gas. The last report I heard (from CNN) stated that 250 had been arrested. I did attempt to make it to the Center midday today, but was abandoned by my bus midway and left stranded on the now snowy and quite frigid streets of Copenhagen. With no empty taxis in sight, I ended up walking more than an hour to get back home.
Meanwhile, inside the Bella Center, things seem equally chaotic. Now referred to as one of the biggest summits in world history, governments seem to unable to come to anything close to consensus. NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are being roughly expelled from the main plenary, the Kyoto Protocol seems to be in perpetual limbo and Connie Hedegaard, the former Conference Chair, has resigned. The official line is that this was a matter of protocol, allowing for the Prime Minister of Denmark to precede over the COP with world leaders present. However, with comments from her such as “in the end, you cannot make the deal in that plenary”, the true motive of her resignation remains in question.
For now, I’m warm and cozy again, off the siren-filled streets of Copenhagen. We’ll see what tomorrow brings as I try to make it back over to Bella Center.
- posted by Arlo Hemphill