Copenhagen diary, December 13: Got a badge?

At a dinner over the weekend for assorted officials and hangers-on at the talks, two delegates leapt from their chairs, talking urgently into their phones.

What was the issue? Had there been a breakthrough in the negotiations at last?

No, it turned out: they were discussing the issue of who will be allowed into the conference venue for the second week of the talks.

As ministers arrive in Copenhagen, to be followed by the leaders at the end of the week, the Bella Centre that holds the meetings will be full to capacity, so all those not essential to the talks, such as businesses and campaign groups, will have their access limited.

Delegates from those groups will need a second badge to get in, and over the weekend a fierce debate raged about how those badges should be allocated. Indeed many people seemed more exercised about the badges than about the real issues to be decided here. Suggestions that the total number of badges should be capped, and delegates then allowed to trade their allocations on on exchange, unfortunately found little support.

There was some criticism of Danish police for heavy-handed tactics after almost 1,000 people were arrested on Saturday’s protest march to demand a strong climate deal.

There was little trouble from the marchers, who were the usual mixed bag of ordinary citizens, church groups, environmentalists, communists and anarchists, but there was a small hard core of the hooded and masked “black bloc” militants who like to use these events as an excuse for violence.

After a few incidents of stone-throwing and an assault on a policeman, sections of the estimated 40,000-strong crowd were subjected to “kettling”: being blocked off in a stretch of street and forced to wait for several hours. Of those arrested, only 13 were then detained into Sunday.

The mood on Sunday was more ugly, however, when an activist group tried to blockade the port, and a further 200 were arrested.

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