On Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 9:17 AM, Nick Berning
Just managed to get internet access again via a borrowed laptop now.
We've been sitting here for two hours now, about 50 Friends of the Earth representatives, all with accreditation and secondary badges, who have been refused admission to the conference. We are sitting in the registration area, between the registration/credentials desks and the photo desks.
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.
Initially there were a lot of reporters, but the UN has now cordoned us off and closed access to media.
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.
Re the entry way more generally: appears that access to the conference has been almost completely shut down. We have a very clear view of the front doors and the security area, and people come through only very sporadically.
Nick Berning, Friends of the Earth U.S., +45 30 48 31 73 (my Danish cell)
Things are moving very fast here. If you can say that about a sit-down protest.
We're sitting inside the main venue for the climate talks, the Bella Centre. But our immediate future here hangs in the balance.
He said he'd had intelligence that we were going to be involved in a mass walk-out from the talks. It's not true.
He's invited a small delegation of Friends of the Earth people to go and see him.
We're awaiting the outcome.
Meanwhile, the press are not being allowed to interview us - though they can take pictures.
Worrying trendThis has all happened in a week where the UNFCCC have been clamping down on NGO and civil society access to the climate talks.
The UN organisers had already said they will cut the number of observers, academics, unions and campaign groups like us from 20,000 yesterday to 7,000 today.
So we got to the conference venue, the Bella Center, really early this morning.
Stood in the freezing cold - just like the January sales. Though today's special offer isn't too desirable.
We wanted to be sure we got in - to continue our work here. The work you and hundreds of thousands are expecting us to do.
My pass didn't get me through the security gates. Gradually it emerged that no one registered by Friends of the Earth could get in.
Andy Atkins said our exclusion is "draconian and completely unjustified".
"If this is a consequence of our role as one of the most prominent groups calling for a strong and fair agreement, this is even more disturbing."
You can help us overturn the ban.