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Sunday, December 20, 2009

COP-15: A Chance to See What Life Would Be Like...

COP15WaitinginLine121409.jpgCopenhagen, Denmark - COP-15 has provided a glimpse of what life might be like under a global climate change agreement... and it isn't "A Wonderful Life." It's been a real Frank Capra moment, only in reverse.

I've already reported that some 45,000 people representing accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had registered to participate in the conference and that some 38,000 of that number were turned away the first few days of this week. Many had flown thousands of miles to participate at great expense and were forced to wait up to 10 hours in the cold before being told they wouldn't be admitted.

As my colleague Tom Borelli noted, "It was easier to get out of Casa Blanca than to get into the Bella Center."

On Monday, one person standing in line ahead of us collapsed.

This was completely unnecessary. The UNFCCC knew that they weren't going to allow additional people in for at least hours before announcing their decision. One Canadian NGO representative told me that she'd learned from one government delegate that the decision had been made before the conference began.

But the UNFCCC wanted to break the spirit of those gathered so that they would go away -- not just for this COP meeting but future ones.

Decisions by the UNFCCC were arbitrary, subject to constant change and it provided no information to those left in the cold and no mechanism for redress of legitimate grievances.

UNFCCC staff did offer a telephone number to those in line on Tuesday morning that instantly went to voice mail, which NGOs were told to expect. I called the number and left messages numerous times before an UNFCCC staffer -- apparently in error -- answered. Here's how my conversation went.
Me: Hello. I'm calling because we're having a problem registering for COP-15 because we need a secondary pass to enter the building. How can I obtain one?

UNFCCC staff: We don't do that here.

Me: Isn't this the UNFCCC?

UNFCCC staff: Yes. I said we don't do that here.

Me: Okay. Can you provide me with the right telephone number?

UNFCCC staff: No.

Me: But if you work for the UNFCCC, why can't you?

UNFCCC staff: Click.
None of my messages were ever answered.

Then on Wednesday night, the UNFCCC Secretariat decided -- or so they said that's when they decided -- to restrict the number of NGO representatives to 300 (about 0.6 % of those who showed up).

Speaking at a meeting of Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (RINGO), RINGO's Marilyn Averill reported that the UNFCCC had obtained emails in which some of the more radical environmental organizations detailed plans to hide in the Bella Center throughout the night and then take over the building by opening the door to all their activists on the outside. This is what the secretariat said prompted the decision to so severely restrict access.

I'm no fan of the environmental left. But how is it that the UNFCCC intercepted these emails -- through infiltration of these groups or by reading private emails sent through the center's "free" WiFi?

Either way, it should frighten all civil libertarians.

The environmental left created a monster and that monster -- as conservatives and libertarians could have told them -- has now turned on them.

Having provided the political pressure needed to create this treaty process, the environmental serfs have now been instructed to return to the manor while the nobility divvy up the spoils.

Since the Magna Carta was forced upon King John in 1215, political and economic power has been on a more or less steady path toward decentralization.

That could be all about to change.

Global climate change regulation is about returning to the old economic and social order.

Regulation of fossil fuels -- and thus power -- is about political power. The preservation of our right to keep and bear fossil fuels is every bit as important to the preservation of our liberty as the preservation of our right to keep and bear arms.

Our liberty is inextricably linked to our economic well-being as well as our ability to move freely to wherever we choose. An energy-restricted world will mean greater dependence on government for our transportation and such dependence increases the ability of governments to control us.

What government gives, it can easily take away.

The COP-15 meeting gave us a taste of what could be in store for all of us. When the UNFCCC wanted to stop political protests, they had the Metro station at the Bella Center closed down. They could have closed down the entire government-run transportation system upon which so many hapless Danish citizens now depend.

The UN body did everything in its power to limit participation of anyone not part of a government delegation while limiting press access to heads of state so the citizens of the world saw exactly what they wanted them to see.

There was no transparency and no accountability. Even environmentalists now recognize this. Two Canadian environmentalists to whom I spoke very early on Thursday morning suggested that it was time to abandon the UN process in favor of more productive uses of their time.

I agree.

It's time to return power to the people... in more ways than one.

Written by David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at info@nationalcenter.org. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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Posted by David A. Ridenour at 12:00 AM

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