Thousands sent home from packed summit

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Copenhagen - The United Nations (UN) is to send home thousands of non-governmental organization (NGO) delegates from around the world as the venue of the climate change conference is now packed to capacity.

In a statement read out to an estimated 50 000 people, who had lined the area around Beller Center outside Copenhagen on Monday, the UN Climate Secretariat said, due to high demands and security concerns, it had no choice but to advise some people not to continue to stand in the more than a kilometer long queue.

Not even journalists were given an exception and a handful of registered media houses were given their access cards only around 6pm last night following persistent calls to the UN Press Office.

As an official broke the news some screamed and tried to break through the barricades but a strong police presence ensured that the angry crowd was kept at bay.

The people, who some came from as far afield as Mexico, stood in the queue despite the chilly and snowy weather.

Meanwhile, security was stepped up in and around the city ahead of the arrival of about 100 heads of state and government on Thursday.

President Jacob Zuma is among the leaders who will meet in a closed session to deliberate a possible climate deal out of the discussions that have been taking place since last week.

Earlier on Monday, developing nations led by an African block stormed out of the conference room and plenary had to be briefly suspended.

It is understood that the group complained, amongst other things, of a lack of commitment to ambitious targets by developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

BuaNews tried to speak to some of the delegates but they could not speak on record promising a briefing would be held on the matter. A delegate from Ghana, Akaye Mogudu could only say developing countries demanded that the discussions take the direction of emission targets as a priority.

The delegates are said to have refused to participate in any working groups until the matters were resolved but they later returned to the hall and the talks resumed immediately.

Poor countries also want to extend the treaty of the Kyoto Protocol because it commits rich nations to emission cuts while it does not make any legally binding requirements on developing countries.

South Africa has consistently supported the position with Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica previously calling for the approach of common but differentiated responsibility when dealing with climate change.

The United States is the only major nation that is not a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol and it will only be known by Friday if the country is to change its attitude towards legally binding emission reduction targets.