COPENHAGEN: A dozen young representatives from youth nongovernmental organizations (NGOS) were ready to stay the night Wednesday in the main hall at the Bella Center, site of the United Nations climate change conference.
In the main hall, where heads of states and governments as well as official delegates converge there between negotiations, a poster the youths were hoisting up read: "We will stay until you reach a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement."
But when delegates and journalists arrived yesterday morning, the hall had been cleared. Journalists who wish to gain entrance must now go through a second security check to get in.
Moreover, conference organizers late Wednesday announced that it would set a further access restriction to registered participants from NGOs and even international organizations because of problems with capacity. The Bella Center, according to organizers, can only hold 15,000 people.
As heads of states and governments arrived in Copenhagen, the hall was swelled with assistants, experts and journalists. By Wednesday, some 3,500 journalists had registered, along with approximately 12,000 official delegates.
However, in the first week of the conference that started on Dec 7, some 30,000 representatives from NGOs and international organizations around the world registered as participants.
On Wednesday, only about 7,000 out of the 30,000 came to the conference.
On Thursday, that number was further reduced to only 300, said Yu Jie, head of the Research Program of The Climate Group China office.
According to the COP15 Post, a newspaper running the daily climate conference news, NGO participants are enraged. A group of 50 NGOs wrote an open letter to Yvo de Boer, executive secretary United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and conference President Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
The letter read: "It is unacceptable that civil society observers should be limited in this forum.
"The negotiations under the UNFCCC/Kyoto Protocol framework have a huge and increasing impact on the lives of ordinary people all over the world. Their participation in the climate negotiations as members of civil society is absolutely crucial for ensuring that the Copenhagen outcomes are both just and effective."