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There are still pages upon pages of COP decisions to read and analyse, but I’m about to catch my train out of Copenhagen. Any further updates will be posted on the Friends of the Earth Scotland website at www.foe-scotland.org.uk

I hope you’ve found my updates useful and maybe even occasionally entertaining. I’ve enjoyed blogging for you during the past week.

I’m sad to be leaving Copenhagen without being able to report any big gains for the planet and the climate.

But we can conclude that hope remains for a negotiated solution which is fair and sustainable.

The efforts of climate deniers to undermine the whole process have been stymied.

The movement for climate justice – bridging civil society and many countries – has come centre stage at Copenhagen, giving developing countries the confidence to express their aspirations clearly and firmly within the UN system.

When talks reconvene next year a fair, ambitious and binding deal can still be delivered.

Have a happy Christmas, and a Cool New Year.

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The FoEI delegation

8.30 am I’m blogging live from the lobby of the UN climate talks. No-one from FoEI is being allowed in today – as yet we don’t know why.

Right now there are about 50 FoEI delegates unsubtly kettled in the entrance lobby, conducting media interviews as we wait to learn more.

Our suspicions are that our outspoken support for the African delegation has mde them fearful that we will take direct action inside the talks.

So far however, we have only taken non-obstructive actions inside the centre, such as short lived flash mobs to support the African position or urge greater action by Europe. But clearly it has raised our profile.

Sadly it’s rather typical of the somewhat paranoid approach to security we have seen this week.

10:40 Things are excalating by the minute. Now the officially accredited media are no longer allowed to interview members of the FoEI delegation! Members of the press trying to speak to us are forcibly being moved on. This is a wholly undemocratic suppression of our democratic rights, and a clar breach of the Aarhus convention. It’s a sad indictment of the state of the UN Climate Convention Secretariat, and outragerous disgrace.

9.05 Nnimmo is back from his meeting with Yvo de Boer

He has been told that due to reports of ‘security issues’ we are being excluded for today. They haven’t told us what the issues were, although it is possible that this results from concerns about the planned Climate Justice ‘Reclaim Power’ action today intended to facilitate a new people’s conference involving delegates from inside and citizens from outside the talks. It has been reported that the police yesterday arrested the CJA spokesperson and held him on charges of ‘planning violence’.

We are the only group so singled out.

Nnnimmo describes it as “expulsion – a removal of our right to protest”.

The UN claim it is a sensitive day, but from tomorrow NGO accreditation will be cut back to one seventh of the current level, so even if our badges are restored we won’t get back in.

Right now the delegation is discussing our exact response … which is:

We’re now having a group photo aka sit in in front of the UN banner at the entrance.

What this all means is that the most effective global  voice for climate justice will not be heard inside the talks today – when Ministers and World leaders start  to consider the wholly inadequate drafts provided for them by negotiators who have been arguing all week.

Apparently we can’t display a banner, because that would be an unauthorised action, while our sit down strike isn’t …

We are now trying to get the UN to send out a spokesperson to explain to the media here and now why we are being excluded. They seem to be doing their best to avoid it.

Apparently, though, we’ve agreed to have our say and then make a dignified departure to the KlimaForum – rather than waiting for the UN to remove us forcibly.

Apparently other delegations, such as WWF and Oxfam are seeking to intervene on our behalf, but it seems unlikely that any decision will change – even though this is an UN organisation, legally bound to enable participation by civil society, under the Aarhus convention, signed here in Denmark.

9.38 Yvo de Boer (Chair of the UNFCCC) has come to talk to us

He’s trying to say there is nothing useful for us to do inside today, and he doesn’t want distractions for the delegates.

He’s implying its about numbers – “the fire department will only let in 15000” – he needs to make it function efficiently

This is nonsense – because they are not restricting other delegations – it feels like discrimination.

Asked why FoES he said that the certain organisations were saying they would ‘break out of the centre to let others in’ – but FoES has not endorsed any such action.

He is offering talks with a smaller group of us.

9.45 Rumours are spreading that some other groups have also been excluded – possibly including our allies Via Campesina, and the global campaign network Avaaz – you can find their action on the talks at http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_copenhagen/97.php?cl_tta_sign=f29432c1c1ee7d276b9152d98fc85f5f

But it’s far from a blanket measure, and seems targeted at those with high profile showing most solidarity with the Global South. That fits with the concern that when Yvo de Boer says “there is still time to get the talks on track”, he means there is still time to bring the poor countries behind a deal based in the interests of the rich North.

I’m chatting now to Erich Pica President of FoE US. He says “it’s outrageous that Yvo de Boer and the UNFCCC is using this important negotiating time to suspend the rights of the largest environmental federation in the world, and curtail our ability to push for a strong and just climate  treaty.”

10:28 We have decided to stay at the Bella Centre and not walk out, because we want civil society access to the talks. There has been a flurry of media interest following our exclusion, and lots of parlamentarians have come by to speak to us, among other Canadian and Norwegian parlamentarians.

Pictures from the lock-out: flickr.com/photos/foei

10:40 Things are escalating by the minute. No the accredited media are no longer allowed to interview FoEI delegates! Members of the press are being forced to move on if they try to speak to us. This is a wholly undemocratic suppression of our democratic rights., and a clear breach of the Aarhus convention. It is also a sad indictment of the state of the UN Climate Convention secretariat.

10:50 There has been a flurry of media requests for interviews since they are no longer allowed to speak to us. The security here are trying to clear the area, while there are still FoEI delegates negotiating with the secretariat abour why this is happening in the first place. It’s not confirmed yet, but I sadly get the impression that they are trying to clamp down on the media taking pictures or footage of us. It’s a complete disgrace.

10:58 Rumours here are the Danish President of the UN climate talks Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for the Environment, has resigned and the Danish Prime Minister has taken over as conference president. It seems she’s had enough, with protests now happening inside the lobby and developing outside the Bella Centre as well.

11:10 I’ve just been on the phone speaking to the Scottish minister for Climate Change Stewart Stevenson, who expressed his concerns about our exclusion, and promised to raise the issues in meetings inside the talks. He gave me his best wishes to all Friends of the Earth colleagues.

11:32 Our negotiators have been offered a severely reduced number of passes to the talks, far below what the UN had set out earlier in the week, and we are discussing how we react to that. Some say that if we can’t all go, no one should go, while others think that while we are here it will be the only voice we have have in the talks and that we should take it.

12:02 Our negotiators have been offered 12 places inside today, out of the 96 places we were allocated beforehand. We have decided to walk out and leave the Bella Centre and go back to the KlimaForum.

I’ve spent today at some of the various gatherings and exhibitions around Copenhagen timed to coincide with the summit.

The official exhibition of ‘Hopenhagen’ in one of the city squares – despite heavy corporate branding and a fair slice of hype – did at least seem to be drawing in the ordinary public to look at exhibits on district heating, water conservation, clean energy and more.

The children there also seemed to be enjoying using stationary bicycles to power the lights on a 10 metre high christmas tree.

At the Klimaforum – the people’s climate summit, where activists from almost every continent (no penguins …) have gathered to talk, debate and plan. The forum has come up with a People’s Climate Declaration which is to be presented to world leaders, starting tonight with the G77 group (the group of less developed countries).

And this evening I attended the FOEI delegation meeting to plan for the second week of the talks: a great chance to catch up with old friends, and to hear the inside story of the negotiations so far.

Sadly that’s not a great story, as the European Union, and the Danish hosts of the meeting have shown scant regard for their claimed concerns for global justice and rapid action to solve climate change.

It’s particularly worrying to hear of their underhand efforts to sideline developing nations by diverting the talks into closed so-called “green room” negotiations today and tomorrow.

The “green room” label – with its connotations of a preparatory space for TV shows – might sound innocuous, but it’s really a divisive mechanism.

The rich countries determine the agenda and who is invited, using it to divide and rule the majority developing nations, excluding radical leaders like Bolivia.

At the same time the EU is refusing to move on its 20% by 2020 pledge, contributing to an overall picture in which the pledges on the table for rich country emissions cuts (15-18% on aggregate) could all be met without real action at home. This is because of the scale of loopholes in accounting for reductions arising from the collapse of communist economies, changes in land use, and trading through the ‘clean development mechanism’.

The latest news is that many Ministers and Heads of State have brought forward their arrival at the talks to allow for ‘hard negotiations’ over several days.

So we have a big fight on our hands to get anything worthwhile from the talks – but our actions and campaigns have already had an impact: they have helped strengthen the hand of the progressive developing country governments.  I’ll keep you updated as to how things progress over the week.

After a few days of phoney summitry, and a long but relatively uneventful journey, I finally arrived in Copenhagen at 2.30 this morning, on the first of the three Friends of the Earth coaches from Brussels to make it through the border checks.

We got lucky, but sadly most of our colleagues were on coaches randomly stopped for individual searches by the German border police, and are at least three hours behind us.

So I’ll have a little sleep before joining the Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) action first thing tomorrow – helping create a human ‘flood’ into the central Parliament square in Copenhagen.

FoEI has an honourable history of coordinating high-impact actions for climate justice at climate summits.

In 2000 when negotiators met in Den Haag in the Netherlands, campaigners built a sandbag dike around the summit.

In a country with millions of hectares protected from the sea by dikes already this resonated well, so well that the Dutch chair of the conference took a sandbag inside and placed it on the podium.

Many government negotiators subsequently referred to the dike as evidence of public concern and scrutiny, and the negotiations made progress rather than stalling as had appeared likely.

Two years later in Bonn the negotiations addressed the critical issue of the enactment of the Kyoto protocol, despite resistance from the USA. Implementing Kyoto was a critical step in that it bound only developed, rich countries to take action to cut emissions.

Around 3,000 Friends of the Earth activists built a 20-metre long lifeboat for the treaty, out of thousands of decorated planks collected from groups around the world.

We dragged the lifeboat through the streets and parked it outside the conference venue, making a key talking point for the thousands of negotiators and lobbyists.

A plank demanding ‘Kyoto in Bonn’ found its way onto the speakers’ podium through the good offices of the conference chair.

Of course we all know that the agreements delivered by previous summits have not solved the problem, and have delivered too little action by the rich countries.

Clearly Copenhagen must still focus on what the rich world – the overwhelming cause of climate emissions so far – must do to repay its climate debt by cutting emissions without offsetting, and financing mitigation and adaptation in poorer countries.

Our action is primarily targeted at preventing rich countries dumping their obligations onto poor ones, by carbon trading or offsetting. Carbon offsetting allows a country to go on polluting at home, by paying someone else to cut emissions elsewhere. Rather like paying someone else to be faithful to their partner, so that you could cheat on yours, it’s not just wide open to abuse, but basically unethical.

Fortunately there will be more FoEI activists in Copenhagen than at any previous summit, so we can be sure the Flood will get noticed and have a real impact.

I leave for Copenhagen in the morning, but today’s job was to assess the Chancellor’s pre-budget report.

Not surprisingly the headlines have been grabbed by the populist – and entirely justified – windfall tax on banking bonuses.

However, buried in the details of the Chancellor’s statement are some welcome measures to increase investment in the low carbon economy. These include extra cash for home insulation, tax breaks on payments for domestic electricity generation, and a household boiler ‘scrappage’ incentive to encourage replacement of inefficient boilers.

Sadly, the total spend is a drop in the ocean of the Government budget and the package looks distinctly like it was stitched together with no coherent strategy.

On the one hand he has chosen to increase taxes on the banking sector, while on the other continuing to allow the bailed out banks to fund environmentally damaging projects that will impose massive costs on future tax payers (www.foe-scotland.org.uk/RBSreport2009).

He has elevated expenditure on low carbon options such as carbon capture, home insulation, and electric vehicles. Yet he has chosen to fund them not with green taxes, but by increasing national insurance – the tax on jobs. A green tax shift instead could bring hundreds of thousands more people into employment over the coming decade. The Green Fiscal Commission’s recent report showed that a tax shift doubling the share of tax revenues from green taxes to 15% could bring an extra 450,000 people into the workforce by 2020 as well as delivering the UK’s climate targets (www.greenfiscalcommission.org.uk).

He has chosen to spend more on improving railways, but also continues to expand Britain’s roads, and through his Strategic Investment Fund promises further potential help to companies such as Airbus.

Overall, in amongst these contradictory offerings, the Chancellor has missed a key opportunity to deliver a green new deal for the country.

This pre-budget report could have set the foundations for delivering the UK’s climate targets through targeted, job creating green spending funded largely by a green tax shift.

Instead it has done little more than tie a few green ribbons onto a fundamentally unambitious package.

With such an approach, the UK has little justification to pressure the EU to improve its Copenhagen offers.

So Alistair Darling has let down his cabinet colleagues who will come to the summit next week calling for elevated and radical effort to tackle climate change.

FOE Scotland

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