Participants overcrowd UN climate change conference


Xinhuanet | 2009-12-09 | 18:09:13

Government officials, representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGO) and journalists overcrowded a UN climate change conference which kicked off on Monday. The Danish government had expected 15,000 participants for the event, a key meeting that would pave the way for an international agreement on further reduction of green-house gas emissions after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012. But more than double that number, 34,000 people on Sunday asked to physically attend the meeting, forcing the organizer to issue a media alert and apply limits on the number of journalists and NGO representatives allowed to enter since the maximum capacity of the Bella Center, the venue of the conference, is 15,000.

“Due to these constraints, NGO delegates will be allowed access to the building according to a quota system,” according to which only a prearranged percentage of each organization’s representatives can get inside during peak times, the conference’s secretariat and the Danish government said in a joint statement. “Also due to the space constraints, a maximum of 3,500 journalists will be allowed access to the Bella Center at this point in time,” they said. For fear that even more people will come for the official opening ceremony on Monday morning, the organizer simply barred media and NGO representatives who arrive late from picking up their badges to enter. “No exceptions will be made,” they said.     

Only a handful of journalists are allowed into the conference’s three-hour official opening, which is set to begin. The huge number of participants showed how the whole world is concerned about the results of the climate change conference, which is the largest-ever event hosted by Denmark. “We are in the absolute mammoth category here,” said Office Manager Svend Olling, head of special group in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is dealing with the logistics of the summit.

Denmark had held a European Union (EU) summit in 2005, which observed the expansion of the EU to 25 countries. But even compared with that, everything had to be multiplied by a factor of around 20 this time, which posted a big challenge to the Danish government. Nearly all hotels in Copenhagen had been fully booked, with some participants advised to stay in Malmo, a Swedish town near the border. It was reported that the Danish government mobilized 60,000 policemen, nearly half of the country’s total, to ensure security in Copenhagen during the conference.

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