Copenhagen diary – Day 12: Brown’s tweets and absent friends

By Andrew Ward, Scandinavian correspondent

Tweeting Brown

It was not always easy for journalists to work out what was happening inside the closed-door negotiations this week. So thank goodness for the British delegation, which issued a running commentary on Twitter.

A 1am tweet attributed to prime minister Gordon Brown declared: “Late night haggling with 30 leaders. Tough, but we’re determined to crack it.”

Earlier, the PM reported on his “crucial meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao of China, and then five minutes for steak”. He even found time to send a message while getting dressed in the morning: “If only it was as easy to fix climate change as to choose a tie.”

Absent minded

So which leaders did not make it to Copenhagen? Those from big oil producing nations were particularly conspicuous by their absence.

Among the no-shows: Saudi Arabia, Libya, the United Arab Emirates and several others accounting for almost half of the world’s proven oil reserves. Latin Americans were also reluctant to make the trip, despite their importance to the deforestation issue. Leaders from Chile, Ecuador and Costa Rica all stayed away.

Europeans were out in force, with one notable exception. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, was still recovering from the attack last week that left him with a broken nose.

Royal treatment

Greenpeace pulled off a brazen stunt at the royal dinner for visiting leaders on Friday night. The environmental group managed to sneak a three-vehicle motorcade through multiple layers of security to deliver a pair of activists, dressed in tuxedo and ballgown, on to the red carpet where Queen Margrethe II was greeting guests at the Danish parliament.

Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, had arrived moments earlier. The intruders unfurled a banner reading “Politicians Talk, Leaders Act” inside the entrance hall before being hustled away by guards.

Sceptical blow

Environmental groups have complained about heavy-handed tactics by Danish police throughout the conference. But they can be reassured that climate change sceptics are receiving the same treatment.

Christopher Monckton, the British hereditary peer and high-profile sceptic, claims to have been knocked unconscious by police after being refused entry to the conference hall.

The 57 year-old, who was an adviser to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, gave a blow by blow account on his blog.

“I came to some time later, to find my head being cradled by my friends, some of whom were doing their best to keep the police thugs at bay,” he wrote, adding a characteristically right-wing interpretation of the incident. “It is exactly this species of tyranny that the UN would like to impose upon the entire planet.”

Holding pattern

While most world leaders remained locked in tense negotiations on Friday, three leaders chose to exploit the news vacuum by holding court in the press auditorium.

First came Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the Iranian president, who used his press conference to trumpet the role of Iran’s nuclear power programme in tackling global warming. Next up were Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia calling for a global referendum to overthrow US capitalism.

The Latin American double-act kept talking long after their allotted time was up, leading to a confrontation between Mr Chavez and UN officials trying to clear the room. “Call in the police if you have to, turn off the lights, but we are answering questions,” he declared.

Moments after the two leaders finally departed, Barack Obama swept through the room surrounded by a phalanx of secret service agents on his way to more talks – raising the possibility that the US president had been kept waiting by his fiercest South American critics.

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