Communications inside the Bella Centre are being restricted: rumour has it that Blackberries no longer work inside; emails are being intercepted; and delegates entering plenaries are asked to park their mobile phones before they go inside!

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The US offer on funding is being presented in the world media as a ‘deal-maker’ – but close reading reveals that it is contingent on a political declaration that includes all the US’s other demands, and even then they haven’t put a number on the US’s own contribution to the $100bn a year fund.

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Complaints about lack of translation and texts only in English have continued throughout the talks. This is a major problem for non-anglophone developing countries.

Last night the latest texts were published. And the drafts on the Kyoto Protocol track – the priority for most poor countries – on the official UNFCCC site are only available in English. Strangely the texts on the LCA track – being pushed more heavily by the rich countries – are available in all five official languages. I wonder why.

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As agreed yesterday, four FoEI delegates arrived at the Bella Centre this morning. But only two were allowed in. Again no credible reason has been provided. Strangely the two eventually turned away both happen to be black. Apparently  it’s only a coincidence.

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The Telegraph this morning reports that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) would not be included in the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’: but the texts we have – dated from last night – leave two options: that it won’t be included in the second commitment period – to 2017 (or perhaps 2020) because of technical issues – but implicitly that it would be included later; or that it will be included now. Brazil’s opposition seems to have come to naught.

There are many views on the possible value of CCS in the NGO community – but the idea that we should allow rich countries to get carbon credits for building CCS plants in poor countries, before it has even been demonstrated in the rich world seems almost as perverse as the parallel proposal that nuclear power should be counted under the CDM at the very time the rich world is trying to stop countries like Iran developing nuclear technology.

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The good news from COP15 is that negotiations have resumed on both tracks – advancing the Kyoto Protocol (KP), and new ‘Long term Cooperative Action’ (LCA). For any chance of a fair deal, this is essential, to protect the key goals and principles of the KP, which would be lost if they are collapsed into a single track, or worse still a single political declaration.

The bad news is that behind the scenes a new political text is circulating. Apparently drafted in London, it is being pushed by Gordon Brown – but in essence it is no different to the rejected Danish text, or the French-Ethiopian ‘deal’ which has been opposed by every other African leader.

And it is only within this context that the US’s new offer of finance, supporting a global short term figure of $100bn, should be seen. Not only is this far less than was mobilised to save the banks, much of it is private sector money, linked to offsetting, and it seems intended to undermine support for the proposals of Africa and the small island states in the official draft texts.

These proposals (from Africa and the Small Island States) are still the best – perhaps only – prospect for a fair deal, with a temperature rise target of no more than 1.5degC, developed country emissions cuts at  home of 49% by 2017, with any financing of emissions reductions elsewhere to contribute to a higher ‘total reduction target’, plus framing language that refers to the principles of climate justice.

Elsewhere in the texts, unfortunately, rich countries are pushing for a big expansion of offsetting and the discredited ‘clean development mechanism’, including extending its provisions to nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, forest protection and much more. At the same time the rich countries are fighting for language which would leave domestic emissions reduction action on agriculture for example constrained to not interfere with trade rules under the WTO.

Yet again the talks are stalled and in turmoil. The pressure from the rich world to seek an alternative ‘political declaration’ has been intense. But the G77 and poor countries have resisted this, despite the approach of the rich world and the western media to blame poor countries for the breakdown of talks.

Apparently the Danes have given up on getting their alternative text accepted – which is good news. And rumours that the Chinese have now called for a political declaration, and deferral of a binding deal have been refuted by China.

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Following FoEI’s exclusion yesterday, and the UN’s decision to slash places available for all NGOs from today, other major NGOs including WWF and Greenpeace staged a solidarity ‘work-in’ inside the Bella Centre last night, refusing to leave when security asked them to go at 2am. We hear they remained inside until after 4am.

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I’ll try to post several blog entries every day now until the talks conclude.

After all that frenzied blogging this morning, I imagine many readers will just want a bit of peace. But there is too much official misinformation to let it go unchallenged.

In particular it seems like the UN and the Danish Government are setting up the protestors and NGOs to take the blame for failure at the talks, if they can’t pin it on Africa and the other poor countries.

There was violence outside the Bella Centre today, but eyewitnesses have confirmed that it was caused by police tactics rather than by the protestors who were left with eyes streaming with pepper spray, and at least one with a broken nose.

Inside the talks the high level segment has started, but is in disarray following the resignation of the COP President, and new stringent security rules. As a result the plenaries are almost empty, with many denied entrance to the sessions, including Lord Nicholas Stern (according to one impeccable source).

It would be funny if the issues at hand were not so serious.

FoEI regrouped at the KlimaForum (the alternative summit) to plan our approach to the rest of the week. With a skeleton crew inside the talks, and a new centre of operations in a city hotel, we hope we can keep the issues that matter – deep developed country cuts, no offsetting, and adequate finance for low carbon development in the Global South – at the centre of the agenda.

Sadly it seems that the EU is resigned to a poor deal at best – being more concerned to bring the US into the process, than with the survival of African societies. European NGOs are already being encouraged to endorse the French Ethiopian proposal that I commented on last night.

Suffice to say, we’ll stand with the majority of African nations, and the small island states in calling for a deal that offers them a chance of survival rather than a suicide pact.

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.

The Little Mermaid is Copenhagen’s most famous landmark. Friends of the Earth International thought she would be angry about sea level rise covering her favourite rock, so we invited her – with the help of thousands of voters – to identify the corporation which had done most to undermine a fair climate deal.

For simultaneously promoting GM crops as a climate ‘solution’, and promoting biofuels, Monsanto was the runaway winner. And while Monsanto is an American company, it is run by a Scot: Hugh Grant from Glasgow, who retains his Scottish connection, advising Scottish Enterprise on international business!

The Angry Mermaid arrives at the Awards ceremony

It might seem odd for the award to be focused on companies, when the negotiations are between countries, but corporate interests are behind far too many of the country positions expressed here, whether that’s oil, forestry, mining, chemical or agricultural interests. The Angry Mermaid was intended to lift the veil on their pernicious lobbying.

That was the reaction of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) chair, Nigerian Nnimmo Bassey to the claims that France and Ethiopia ‘speak for Africa’ in Copenhagen. It seems that the underhand and neo-colonial tactics of rich countries are bearing bitter fruit with one African nation accepting European aspirations for the outcomes of the talks, including the extension of carbon markets.

The joint French-Ethiopian proposal aims to stabilise temperatures at less than a 2 deg C increase, but for Africa this implies a devastating 3.5 degrees. It also accepts only a small financial benefit for Africa, without tough binding targets for France and other developing nations.

Elsewhere in the talks there have been some faltering steps towards reasonable safeguards for indigenous peoples in the discussion over finance to protect and restore forests, but the key outcomes of the talks remain undecided, with the EU and other rich countries still the key obstacle to progress towards climate justice.

So earlier I participated in a FoEI flash mob in the Bella Centre to help tell the EU it is ‘their move’.

After that it was a hurried trip across town – in the snow – to meet Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond at the Climate Leaders summit – where 15 leaders of states and regions were committing to the new policies and practical actions needed to implement a global deal.

The First Minister had been addressing the meeting on Scotland’s Climate Act and energy policies. He told me how all these states had higher aspirations, and were taking more action than their respective national governments. Sadly he also reported how they all felt constrained by the poor ambitions of their national leaders, though given the poor positions of Canada and Australia, this isn’t much of a surprise. This event should further raise the profile of Scotland’s Act with the negotiators here. 

Tonight I’ll be meeting with other FOEI national directors in the Bella Centre, as the deadline arrives for Government negotiators to pass on a ‘finished’ text for discussion by the Ministers and Leaders who arrived today. We’re not expecting much from that draft, but it will be examined closely by FoEI’s team of analysts.

This morning I’m finally blogging from inside the climate talks. Yesterday I spent over four hours queuing for accreditation before having to give up and head to Scotland’s side event ‘the low carbon mission’. And when I tried to post my blog yesterday my laptop decided it had had enough.

The queues for collecting accreditation have been long every day: so yesterday I got in line at 7.20 am. But apparently the accreditation computer system had broken down, so no-one was getting in. Whether or not that was true, there were certainly a lot a disgruntled people in line – including media and even country delegates. I did an interview for a Washington based public radio station on the hoof.

Black humour ruled, with our campaign for ‘accreditation justice gaining more support as the hours went by. And there was a broad consensus that, if the COP organisers couldn’t manage to get 20,000 people off the street and into a big building, it was a bit dodgy to trust them with the fate of the planet.

Fortunately Scotland’s Low Carbon Mission was inside, but not in the conference centre. The day was well attended with over 150 people passing through to hear presentations from speakers including Stewart Stevenson, Ian Marchant, myself, and Mary Robinson (ex UN High Commissioner for Human Rights).

Mary Robinson praised Scotland’s Act for putting principles of climate justice into action, and highlighted the human burden of climate change on women and the poorer world. It was good to hear that a submission she had coordinated with Gro Harlem Brundtland and Margot Walstrom (described somewhat light-heartedly as the ‘ladies who (lunch who) save the world’) is with world leaders now. Mary also recounted the sad news how the 139 gender references arduously inserted into the pre-COP draft by campaigners had been swept away in the new drafts issued last Friday.

But even Mary was upstaged by a group of Edinburgh University students from the Carbon Masters course whose presentation on the key principles for a good deal was both powerful and poetic. We’re working to make it available online right now.

Back in the talks, we heard that the African delegations had walked out in defence of the Kyoto protocol, and in protest at the underhand negotiating tactics of the rich countries – that I blogged about earlier.

The Scottish side event continued with a dinner attended by the First Minister, who is today attending a Climate Group event with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I might try to head there later, but having finally got inside the talks its time now to meet up with the rest of the FOEI delegation.

I’ll be back …

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.

I’ve just got back from this afternoon’s joint action for climate justice where I was one in a hundred thousand!

Faith groups, development organisations, peasant farmer groups, progressive political activists and many more from all over the world came together and marched from the city centre to the climate talks to deliver the people’s demands for climate justice and system change to the negotiators.

The spirit was amazing, and despite many delays resulting from the greater than expected numbers and occasional police interventions to spread out the marchers, the event passed with only minor disruption, and less arrests than after many ‘old firm’ matches.

From all the banners, and demonstrators I talked to, it was clear that everyone supports the poorer developing countries at the talks and their demands to aim to keep long term temperature rise below 1 or 1.5 degrees centigrade, and to aim for an atmospheric CO2 concentration below 350 parts per million.

But it’s increasingly obvious that these won’t be delivered without fundamental change in our economic systems to deprioritise growth and increase equality.

It will be intriguiging to see how Alex Salmond handles this question when he launches Scotland’s partnership with the Maldives in Copenhagen on Wednesday.

There are fairly hefty contradictions between the Maldives advocacy of early and ambitious climate action, and the Scottish Government’s approach to ‘sustainable economic growth’.

Despite making the tough decisions to support renewable power and no nuclear, they still leave space to pursue unsustainable levels of road and air travel, and an unnecessary and climate trashing new coal fired power station at Hunterston.

FOE Scotland

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