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Food for Thought UNFCCC 2009: Rationing and Direct Action

By Felix Dodds Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum

Outreach December 8th  2009 UNFCCC

Rationing: So we have something like 35,000 people registered for the UNFCCC meeting here in Copenhagen. This includes 5,000 media and 14,000 representatives from stakeholder groups. The remaining 16,000 are from governments, intergovernmental organisations and I guess security and serviced staff.

I understand that the venue only takes 15,000, is it surprising that there has now been the introduction of rationing.  This could over the next few days caucus some serious difficulties. Many organisations haven’t set up a system to be able to self monitor the situation.

We had a similar situation in Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development the Sandton Centre was careful to monitor those coming in and out and to slow down entry if there was peak, but there was no attempt to assign individual limits to organisations.  Of course it is slightly colder here in Copenhagen than Johannesburg so keeping people a little longer in the queue wasn’t an unpleasant experience just an annoying one. There were also a larger number of very nice restaurants within a few minutes’ walk which you could always inhabit. Here in Copenhagen there is only the Bella metro station not the most pleasant place to wait. Perhaps there could still be some creative thinking of an overflow tent where people could wait maybe have the chance of a coffee or two. 

Tomorrow may see some difficult times for some organisations  as they are told of their quote and try and ensure that they are able to get in the key people they need eg speakers for events, chairs and lobbyists. Could this have been foreseen?   Could there have been a discussion on how to deal with this if it happened? At least if there is no agreement in Copenhagen we move to Mexico for the next COP and warmer weather.

Direct Action: as someone who believes that non violent direct action does have its place. We have seen great leaders Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez to mention a few who have effectively used such action to great effect. So how about such things at the UNFCCC? I think any people planning such action should think about doing it outside the venue. Any action taken inside the centre could not only have an impact on all of us here but also on other UN fors’s. There are many ways to creatively work inside with delegations that want to address global warming.

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