COPENHAGEN, DENMARK — It is our lives being decided here in Copenhagen, and we are being shut out or brutally silenced from the negotiations. This is not an international negotiation, but a climate dictatorship in the making.
Wednesday, thousands of activists who attempted to hold a “people’s assembly” in front of the conference centre were beaten with batons, pepper-sprayed in the eyes, and tear gassed by the Danish police. It was abundantly clear that the protesters were peaceful, giving the peace sign and asking the police to use non-violent tactics. Yet both the activists on the streets and the activists on the inside of the conference, who were attempting to join the protest, were silenced by the brutality (the Guardian has video of the day here).
“Why is it that we have these world meetings that involve the future of people throughout the world that has limits to participation?” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environment Network, in an interview with the Guardian. “They could plan to have larger facilities and people’s assemblies so people can have a more democratic and transparent process to take part in these climate talks.”
Meanwhile, the doors are closing to this conference, turning it essentially into a secret meeting. The 8,000 civil society participants have now turned into 1,000 with second passes only allotted to a select few. Tomorrow, on the final and most important day of the negotiations, there will only be 90 allowed inside. Of course, security measures are expected with the world leaders now attending. However, it is not just civil society being shut out of the talks, but journalists too. “Red zones” were established yesterday, restricting reporters on where, what, and who they can cover.
“The people who are left are the professional negotiators, everyone else is excluded. This essentially strips the process of its passion and grounding,” said Clive Tesar, WWF Arctic Program, head of communications in an interview.
While the deal inside is becoming increasingly questionable. A new leaked UN document shows that the climate deal currently on the table would mean a 3°C temperature rise and 550 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere— a far cry away from the 2°C politicians say is safe and the 350 ppm environmental groups say is needed for survival.
Suicide or survival: that has been the rhetoric of this deal. Many said it would be suicide if there is no deal, survival if there was. It now looks like this could be the other way around. The process of the UN summit here in Copenhagen has been deeply flawed and the deal has many holes.
It’s become increasingly clear that Copenhagen is a beginning—not the final chapter.