Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Minister of Climate Change, resigned as the President of the COP meetings and was replaced by the Danish Prime Minister. The official line was that because negotiations are now at a head of state level, the president needed to be a head of state as well. But rumours were floating around that Connie disagreed with the approach being taken by developed countries; however, she insists she continues to facilitate informal negotiations. Another rumour is that the Danish Government suspended talks on the two tracks (second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and a long range agreement) and has put a modified version of the proposed text that was leaked at the beginning of the talks and inspired the first walk-out by the Group of 77. If that is the case, the outcome of the negotiations is likely to be highly disappointing since the draft was simply a political statement without serious teeth.
Prime Minister Brown and other delegates were stuck in the conference centre yesterday due to a "dangerous situation" outside. The dangerous situation consisted of several marches of 1-3000 people who attempted to approach the Bella Centre. Many protesters were preemptively arrested and put into buses to be shipped away to detention centres. Others were completely surrounded by fully kitted-up riot police who marched in step with the protesters. Still other protesters were tear-gassed pepper sprayed and clubbed. Amnesty International and others have protested the heavy-handed treatment by the police.
The other major story of the last few days relates to accreditation. Some 40,000 people registered to participate in the meetings through the UN process. The Bella Centre can accommodate just 15,000. In the first week there was no problem, but as more and more people arrived, the UN was forced to limit participation, firstly by using secondary badges and then third badges. Yesterday, for example, just 7,000 observers (from NGOs, business and intergovernmental organisations were allowed in). Today that number dropped to 300, and tomorrow they are allowing just 100 NGOs to participate. Not only does this restriction violate a number of key UN principles but it has resulted in extreme frustration for many people who flew in from around the world and are now without access to the conference. Organisations had scheduled press conferences and meetings which are now unable to happen, and more importantly, the process has become extremely opaque. Some countries responded by including NGOs in their delegation, whereas others like Canada refused to do so.