Thousands of NGO representatives finally got accredited to the United Nations climate talks here on Tuesday after queuing in the freezing open air for two days, only to be faced with the news that most of them will be excluded over the next few days anyway.
On Monday, a technical failure of the accreditation systems and a lack of coordination meant that thousands were stuck outside all day. Sunita Narain, head of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment was missing at the podium of her own side-event because she was still outside the venue, Bella Centre. "I waited eight hours and the line barely inched forwards. Finally, they told us to go home," she said. She was finally accredited on Tuesday, but the lines continued to snake around the fences, even as it began snowing on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the U.N. is enforcing a quota system on NGOs since too many people have applied to attend the summit. While the Bella Centre has a capacity of 15,000, well over 40,000 have registered with the U.N. So far, about half the number allowed into the venue every day has been members of civil society - climate activists from the NGOs. This meant that about two-thirds of the registered NGO climate activists have still been excluded from the venue.
However, with the heads of state arriving near the end of the week, the squeeze is about to get tighter. Only 1,000 accredited NGO participants will be allowed access on Thursday, with just 300 being allowed into the plenaries.
"Climate change is about the people who want to be a part of the talks, even if they don't have a voice there," said Ms. Narain. "They should have made adequate arrangements."
"Turning this summit into yet another cosy get-together behind a wall of security runs the risk of resulting in a G8 or G20-type declaration which, in the end, never passes the implementation test," said Martin Kaiser, political climate adviser for Greenpeace. "If our leaders think they can close out criticism, they are mistaken. The time for playing poker with the fate of the planet in smoke-filled back rooms is over."
'Take it to local level'
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday called for a climate summit for cities and regions, offering to host it in his State.
Mr. Schwarzenegger told a packed auditorium at the conference that nations were not the only actors in the fight against global warming.
''The world's national governments cannot make the progress that is needed on global climate change alone.''