M. D. Nalapat
Manipal, India — Those intent on ensuring that the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is free of the worst sufferers of climate change -- the poorly-heeled participants from the developing world with the exception of a few vetted and sanitized samples -- did well to fix the venue at one of the most expensive cities in the world.Holding COP15 in Copenhagen during the Christmas season was designed to ensure that airfares were high enough to scare away almost all participants from the developing world and that the developed world got a large share -- over 80 percent -- in conference participation, which is their share in global emissions.
Naturally, almost all the designated voices at COP15 are from the developed world including the chairperson, as indeed are the overwhelming majority of those representing non-official groups.
Now that pavements in Copenhagen have been declared off-limits by the local police, and low-cost student and youth accommodation has almost entirely been taken up by visitors from developed countries, those unable to get a European Union visa or afford a two-week stay in an expensive hotel in Copenhagen are sitting at home while decisions that could cost them their lives are being taken up by opaque bodies.
The few from the poorer corners of the world who managed to arrive in the Danish capital have found to their dismay, several of their accreditations cancelled without being assigned any reason. Others have been excluded from access to the high level Plenary Room because such access is arbitrarily cut off once the capacity at the Bella Centre crosses 15,000 observers, or less than even half of the 36,000 accredited participants. Such a cutoff favors those who had the finances to come early to Copenhagen, usually groups that include an army of lobbyists for business purposes intent on harnessing the conference to their advantage.
Interestingly, organizers have told delegates that the prized "Third Level Badges” will be issued to the entire business community to access high-level segments of the conference. Such measures ensure that the rich and the business world hear the major voices of the Conference.