Copenhagen queues crazy but equitable

I knew the queue to get into COP15 this week wasn't going to be a cakewalk, but that still didn't prepare me for the chaos I've just experienced.

Stepping off my plane (yes, yes, but offset at least) and onto the city's super-efficient tube system I was immediately informed over the PA that the tube station for the conference centre where the meeting is being held was closed and I should get off the stop before.

Which was also closed.

The stop after was open but quite a hike to the venue.

I was reassured by a Danish policeman at one of the many roadblock security checks on the way, who told me the queus weren't too bad today.

Sure enough, when i got down there there wasn't much of a queue at all, maybe fifty people or so.

But it wasn't moving.

And nor did it for a couple of hours or so, while the UN security assessed whether the protest outside was a threat or just a noisy mob.

The crush, while uncomfortable, wasn't bad for star spotting.

I was purposefully elbowed aside by the Mexican president's don't-mess-with-me man mountain of a press secretary, for example, and got to exchange weak 'we're in this together' smiles with a real minister, no less.

Italy's glamorous Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo was just another victim of the chaotic queuing system when she tried to get into the global climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this afternoon.

The queues, widely reported as being up to eight hours long on Monday as the world's press, NGOs and politicians descended on the city for the final week of negotiations, should have died down by Wednesday.

But a major protest by demonstrators on the periphery of the site brought things to a standstill by mid-morning and the UN security were in a cautious mood, sealing the centre completely.

While the obvious intention was to prevent protestors storming the venue, the policy also left those who should have been granted access out in the cold, under a steely sky that kept trying to snow.

Crushed amongst the rabble of reporters and charity workers were Ms Prestigiacomo and here aides, whose mood swung from gracious acceptance of the situation to frustration and anger that the environment minister of the seventh largest economy in the world was effectively barred from participating.

The situation lasted about an hour before she was finally shuffled through, sans delegation, some 20 minutes before the police begun to allow others to trickle back into the centre. 

Sam Bond

Topics: edie
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