IHS Chemical Week


Copenhagen (blog; day 8): The Atmosphere Sours

9:37 AM MST | December 16, 2009 | By ALEX SCOTT

The atmosphere outside the conference center in Copenhagen where climate negotiations are ongoing soured today when riot police clashed with protestors. Hundreds of protestors were met by a small group of sympathizing delegates from within the conference center.

Reportedly, 230 arrests were made. I saw one protestor being repeatedly beaten (and in my opinion unnecessarily so) until he fell several feet from the roof of a police vehicle (see picture). Copenhagen, suddenly, is not such a nice place to be.

Beaten down: Protestors fail to make an impact inside the
meeting halls.

The atmosphere among some of those offered entry to the event has also soured. Access into the event for members of non-government organizations has been limited. There are multiple tales of individuals who have played an active role in previous climate discussions that have not gained entry into this meeting.

Representatives of European chemicals industry group Cefic were among those that struggled to gain access. I mentioned in my blog yesterday that with a five-hour wait to enter the center I was one of the luckier ones. This has certainly proved to be the case: Peter Botschek, Cefic’s director/energy, health, safety, and environment told me today that he spent nine hours yesterday queuing to get into the conference center and after his wait was turned away.


Even for those who do make it in we have to pass through a crush of people who have to funnel through a narrow chain of police. And that after having to walk the final half mile to the conference center because public transport is not now allowed close to the venue. It sounds trivial but all this means that at the conference you now have a collection of bad tempered individuals who are meant to be brimming with thoughts of goodwill and compromise. There isn’t even goodwill in the canteen queue. Really.


At about mid-day today the protestors made a surge for the conference center. Like Peter Botschek and Cefic, they all want a deal at Copenhagen that will protect the earth against catastrophic climate change. But frankly, if a senior member of an industry delegation can’t get in after nine hours, what chance did the protestors ever have? Let's hope the heads of state can make better progress.



CW’s correspondence from Copenhagen has been sponsored by sustainable chemicals firm Genomatica.





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