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Towing the Copenhagen Line (blog)

3:08 PM MDT | May 18, 2010 | By ALEX SCOTT

Yesterday I queued for more than 5 hours in near freezing conditions to pick up my badge and enter the Copenhagen climate conference. I was not alone. Unlike other United Nations meetings I have been to this one mixed up all of the journalists--capped at 3,500 of us--with representatives of non-government organization--probably more than 10,000. I was told twice I didn’t have the correct papers despite having gained accreditation months earlier from the UN, but was allowed to remain in the queue.
 
I was one of the lucky ones: Two other journalists I had spoken to had already each spent in excess of seven hours on two previous days trying and failing to gain entry into the event. A local Copenhagen journalist I had the pleasure of chatting with in the queue told me how ashamed he was that the organizers couldn’t provide access to journalists when people around the world want to know what is happening. As my part of the queue closed in on the entrance I learned that TV and radio journalists had missed countless interviews scheduled for the day before, those journalists I was told were with the BBC, CNN and more. I even saw one journalist from Finland who reached the kiosk only to be told that she hadn't fully registered and therefore wouldn't be allowed access to the meeting.
 
The Cop 15 Post, a newspaper being handed out at as I stood in the queue ran a story headlined “Amy Goodman and the Case of the Missing Media”. Amy Goodman, a U.S. radio journalist is quoted as saying how disappointed she is with the lack of coverage of the event by the U.S. media. “It’s a sad comment. This is not a proud distinction for the media. We [Democracy Now] shouldn’t be so unique.”
 
Sure, the ongoing issues around Tiger Woods’s personal life might have taken up some of the air time that should otherwise have been allocated to the Copenhagen conference, but if you really pressed me my hunch would be that the queue might also have had something to do with it.

Cue the Queue: Are you cold enough yet?
When I did eventually get through security screening I discovered why there was such a delay; there was only one registration desk (manned by 2 people) for 3,500 journalists. Oh please, please don't do such a thing again today.

The UN today says it will restrict the number of delegates non-government organizations (NGOs). Given the problems of access to the event already outlined above some groups are saying that this is tantamount to an exclusion of NGOs from the negotiations. Groups such as Climate Justice Action say that there will be direct action on a large scale today.
 
Helicopters have been buzzing and sirens wailing in the city all night. Two police buses pulled up outside my hotel. With more than 60 world leaders already in town and the promise of action by demonstrators I just hope that Copenhagen will be in the news for all the right reasons later today.
 
Oh, and wish me luck in the queue.
 
CW’s correspondence from Copenhagen has been sponsored by sustainable chemicals firm Genomatica.

 

 

 

 













 
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