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December 13th 2009 print

Tim Wilson

COP15: Day 6

What was surprising was that the topic of the leaked emails and documents that has prompted ‘Climategate’ didn’t come up in the questions and answers section.

Shockingly, representatives from the British Hadley Centre, confessed they had a problem at the start of their late Friday afternoon side event on the science of climate change.

But before sceptics get excited it was an audio visual confession that they were having problems with their microphones.

And in a second blow to sceptics the microphone issues were quickly fixed by the attendants and the three panellists continued their presentations of climate-induced doom and gloom.

There was some comfort in a concession by a panellist that two degrees of warming could deliver many positive benefits, but an average four degree temperature rise would only carry downsides.

What was surprising was that the topic of the leaked emails and documents that has prompted ‘Climategate’ didn’t come up in the questions and answers section.

But apparently questions were being asked elsewhere.

At another side event Director of the film Not Evil, Just Wrong that criticised the science of climate change, Phelim McAleer, asked Professor Stephen Schneider from Stanford University about ‘Climategate’. But the organisers appeared to decide it was easier to throw McAleer out of the event than allow Schneider to answer his question.

While negotiations progress throughout the weekend, most of the comings and goings are behind closed doors which means for entertainment you’re better off staying in town than catching the train to the Bella Conference Centre.

On Saturday there was a rare discussion about the impact of a Copenhagen agreement at a symposium on trade and climate change organised by the World Trade Organisation and the Faculty of Law at the University of Copenhagen.

But out of the thirty-one thousand people registered for the Copenhagen Conference, less than fifty seemed interested in the impact of the international agreement they want by attending.

Most of the observers were outside the Danish Parliament protesting for an international, legally binding emissions reduction treaty.

As protests go it was largely predictable with chants led from a central stage asking the crowd “what do we want?”, with the response “a legally binding treaty”, “when do we want it?”, “NOW”. And then the protestors marched to the Conference Centre to the sound of beating drums.

That was until about three hundred masked youths broke ranks with the calls for a “peaceful” protest and started smashing things. Many were probably tense after their failed attempt to incite a violent protest on Friday morning.

You’ve got to hand it to the organisers of today’s protest though they successfully turned out a large crowd reported to be between thirty thousand and one hundred thousand people, but from my observations I’d it was closer to the former.

Unlike the conference there was a much greater presence of anti-capitalist sentiment amongst protestors today with placards and posters decrying “toxic capitalism” and “change the system, not the climate”.

Clearly these protestors have never looked at the rising emissions from centrally planned economies.

But opposition to capitalism clearly only went so far with a little coffee stall where you could get a “green bean” coffee.

I presume the protestors turned a blind eye to the fact that beans were imported from the other side of the world by a carbon emitting shipping line and traded on globalised international markets.

But considering how cold it is in Copenhagen I can understand putting ideology to one side especially when the objective is to warm up. Oh, except when it is the climate.

Tim Wilson is Director of the Climate and Trade Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs and is blogging from Copenhagen at www.sustainabledev.org

See Tim Wilson’s previous reports:

COP15: Opening Ceremony

COP15: Day 2

COP15: Day 3

COP15: Day 4

COP15: Day 5