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The Lows and Highs of a Day at COP15

Posted on December 16, 2009 by John Sweeney

It started as another day of inching along with the crowd seeking to register from around 9 a.m.. This time a further obstacle was presented to NGOs - a magic white pass issued on a quota basis which effectively eliminated entry for thousands of NGO observers who had surmounted the accreditation process successfully. In a scene which made us feel for an instant just a little like they must have felt at Auschwitz or Srebenica, NGOs were herded into a separate queue from the press, media and other observers. Those of us who had braved the 8 hours the previous day knew another similar day was ahead with no guarantee of success at the end. As with all queues, there are times you get your hopes up, only to be dashed. In this case around the 4-hour mark the VIPs began to arrive and the triage system was operationalised. NGOs were back at the bottom of the pile and the queue froze. It was turning into another eight hour queue day and for a time the heavy snowfall didn't help our spirits. The historic achievement of getting past the front gate, with the great co-operation of the Friends of the Earth's Molly Walsh was dashed as it became clear that there was a major logistics problem inside the building. Four hours later the cause of all the problems was apparent. 10-15 administrators were working flat out to register people, each one taking 5-10 minutes in total, or around 100 per hour passing through the system. Trouble was, around 45,000 people had apparently indicated they were coming to the conference and the bulk of these had obviously materialised for the second week. The system was now obviously hopelessly inadequate for the several thousand souls out in the snow. The United Nations got everything right except this crucial detail. 10 times as many administrators were needed at the registration desk and fewer security scanners. There are several good courses in Event Management at Irish universities which I could recommend!

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Left in the Cold

Posted on December 15, 2009 by John Sweeney

It was 8 a.m. when I alighted from the train from the city centre to register for the conference as an NGO delegate for Friends of the Earth Ireland. In the sub zero temperatures the beginnings of a 500m queue of humanity could just be discerned stretching into the distance beyond the railway station. 3 hours later I had reached the railway station again, cold and weary, but still hopeful that the gates would at last open to the Bella Centre. The crowd around was generally patient and kept alert by the occasional noisy demonstration, extolling the virtues of a vegan lifestyle or denigrating the Australian government for their support of the world's largest coal export industry.

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EU its your move

Posted on December 15, 2009 by Jerrieann Sullivan

TUESDAY 15TH - E.U it's your move
Our group has been split up by the monster queues and restrictions on NGO observers set by the UNFCCC. Some of our newest arrivals will not get to enter the Bella Centre at all. Worse than that, some people from Friends of the Earth International were queuing for up to 11 hours yesterday, outside in freezing temperatures, with no bathrooms, no food and no information about whether they could enter that day. When a few of us went out to bring them coffee and a sandwich we found hundreds of accredited delegates queuing and chanting 'UN-SHAME ON YOU' and 'LET US IN - LET US IN'. They had taken A4s from bags and improvised placards which asked 'Is this what efficiency looks like?". With three of us inside and five of us outside at the Klimaforum I feel torn about where to be.

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Kevin's Blog

Posted on December 15, 2009 by Young Friends of the Earth

I got to say that being on a bus for 24 hours is quite an interesting experience. You almost forget what it is like to not be on a bus. Even so straight off the bus to Copenhagen things has been non-stop. I quickly realized that the scale of what is going on here is massive. The vast number of people who have flooded to the city during the conference is far beyond what I would have expected. And at first a lot of it was quite overwhelming. This was partially because my lack of knowledge about what was going on. I was quite new and needed to get a substantial update on what FoE had been doing so far. This probably could have taken up to a year if it wasn't for everyone's help to do it in just about one day.

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Copenhagen - a good place to bridge cultural divides

Posted on December 13, 2009 by John Sweeney

Copenhagen is certainly a suitable place to attempt to bridge the gap between two very different cultures regarding managing climate change. On an island where the Atlantic world meets central Europe and the progressive societies of Scandinavia, Copenhagen is where European meetings of minds have historically occurred. It is where hopefully the sensible reasoning of the inhabitants of this ancient place can be brought to bear on civilisation's greatest challenge to date.

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Mass Arrests and Standing with Africa

Posted on December 13, 2009 by Jerrieann Sullivan

SUNDAY 13th - Mass arrests
On Sunday we try to rest. Some of us need a rest more than others. At the morning meeting at the Teglholmen warehouse I find out a little more about what happened on the march. According to Danish and British newspapers the between 800 - 1000 people were arrested and detained for marching peacefully yesterday. Tomorrow the last few Young Friends of the Earth Ireland crew will arrive in Copenhagen, making our group up to eleven.

 

 

 

 

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NO Offsetting CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW!

Posted on December 12, 2009 by Jerrieann Sullivan

SATURDAY 12th - 'No-Offsetting - CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW!"
'No-Offsetting - CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW!" Nnimmo's deep powerful voice echoed across parliament square over thousands of us dressed in blue. Nnimmo Bassey is the Nigerian Chair of Friends of the Earth International, and had the perfect voice for this speech. Today we are outside. I hear that five thousand of us have flowed through the city in this 'Flood for Climate Justice'. Carlos from Mexico who organised the hardest for this moment takes the stage and leads us in a giant Mexican wave. Within an hour of the flood ending thousands more gather behind and around us in the square, lining the canal as far as the eye can see. The far away speakers tell us 100, 000 are here. We begin the 7km march on the Bella Centre about 2pm - and we are still walking hours later in the dark. At one point we passed a side street to our left filled with police vans. Just after we passed, the vans and bodies shot out in a line across the road blocking the portion of the march behind us. The march ahead tried to stay behind in solidarity - about 200 people went back to support the trapped people but eventually moved on. We hovered, getting cold, not knowing whether to go back or go on, and eventually decided to keep going.
Thousands of people walked to the UN fence today, some of us for over 9 hours altogether, in costumes, holding banners, calling for justice. I heard afterwards that Mary Robinson and Naomi Klein (again) gave rousing speeches to the crowd as they arrived. Later as we arrived we were greeted by music and sparklers and line of police vans ringing the Bella Centre.

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Arriving in Copenhagen

Posted on December 10, 2009 by Jerrieann Sullivan

We arrived in drizzle. Ourselves and other activists from Climate Camp Ireland stood in a clump on the pavement where our eurolines left us with a huge pile of luggage. Across the road we found the alternative people's summit, and thankfully some maps. After two nights in transit our sleepy heads found it hard to co-ordinate communal bus tickets and directions. Then came relief. A warehouse in Teglholmen. Food. Stacks of carefully prepared briefings, leaflets, guides and bust cards. Beards of familiar activist faces passing in the field kitchen. Vegan hot dishes and, despite the long queues for toilets, a great atmosphere of solidarity and anticipation.

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Boat building in Copenhagen

Posted on December 08, 2009 by Molly Walsh

leaky canoe - lets not get into a leaky canoe
lets not get into a leaky canoe

The night train to Copenhagen is unusually late. The crowded platform in Cologne train station is dominated by interesting looking characters. There is a tall bearded man with a black stetson carrying a very battered leather briefcase. There are two scruffy punks form Belgian with very advanced cameras. There are a two people who joined my journey in London and seem to be from a UK NGO. They have long since exhausted their political discussions of what the weeks ahead will hold and are now much more animatedly discussing their cats. All these strange characters waiting for the train, myself included, are going to Copenhagen for the UN climate conference. From Monday thousands of delegates from around the world will gather at the Bella centre in an attempt to negotiate a global deal on climate. The train finally arrives at the platform and we all get on. I love night trains. Perhaps it is because we don't have any opportunities for international train travel in Ireland, perhaps its the idea of going to sleep in one country and waking up in another. Anyway I find them really exciting. There is a certain sound that night trains make that is different to the noises of other trains. The tone of the rattle seems lower and flatter, they are calm beasts that carry us sleeping to our destinations.

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Walls do come down

Posted on November 10, 2009 by Molly Walsh

Brandenburg blogMost of the Irish papers today carried pictures of the Brandenburg gate in Berlin on their front pages. The photo is of celebrations marking the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, that day that few had dared to imagine and less had believed would happen. These pictures buoyed me as I had been feeling a little pessimistic of late.

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