Negotiations continue behind closed doors and the shape of a final agreement is coming together, as the political stakes are raised in Copenhagen by the arrival of 119 heads of state and leaders like Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). And youth from around the world -- from China to the United States, from Kenya to Norway -- have sat down in the middle of these negotiations with a simple message: "We will stay until you reach a fair, ambitious, and legally binding agreement."
Updates from the live blog!
Voice Of The Future
During the opening of the high level segment of the Copenhagen conference, "approximately 30 international youth staged a sit-in" in the middle of the convention hall, "refusing to leave the talks until a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty was reached." Youth from every corner of the globe -- "Canada, Wales, Turkey, France, U.S., Denmark, Australia, Germany, China, Lebanon, England, Ireland, Kenya, Norway" -- "began to read the names of the more than 11 million people who signed a petition demanding the same fair, ambitious, and legally binding agreement that is needed to avoid dangerous climate change and usher in a global clean energy economy." As of 9 PM Copenhagen time, the sit-in continues, despite at least one youth being dragged out by security.
The People Are Locked Out
The hundreds of members of Friends of the Earth International, the largest global grassroots environmental federation in the world, were barred from entering the Bella conference center today, because United Nations officials believed some were planning to participate in an effort to help demonstrators into the center. The protesters outside -- calling for a treaty commensurate to the scale of the climate crisis -- were beaten and pepper sprayed by police as they pushed toward the conference. Representatives of indigenous peoples, whose voice is heard but influence is limited, were blocked in their attempt to join with the protesters.
The 22,000 members of every non-governmental organization (NGOs) will be effectively locked out for the rest of the conference, with only 1000 allowed in on Thursday and 90 on Friday. "Their absence in the crucial final days of the conference will be a blow to poor nations who rely on NGO assistance to get their voices heard, the NGOs say, and it will keep out non-governmental experts who could quickly analyze any proposed deals, leaving the world hearing only the claims of politicians."
'If The Climate Was A Bank, They Would Have Already Saved It'
Heads of state from 119 countries have begun making statements at the plenary. Venezuela President Hugo Chavez condemned capitalism for "everything that’s wrong with the planet," saying "if the climate was a bank, [the United States] would already have saved it."
The speech by Australia's Climate Change Minister Penny Wong -- who represents the "umbrella group" of the United States, Canada, Japan and New Zealand -- was interrupted by protesters yelling "climate justice now."
UPDATE: Sit-in is now at hour seven!
These youth have committed to stay in the Bella Center until their political leaders deliver a FAB climate treaty, and they are sticking to their word. "Security has told us that if we won't leave they will see us in the morning," said China's Ann Wang. "We are here until we get a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal out of the negotiations in Copenhagen."
As the evening turns to night, some of the youth are preparing for the Hunger for Survival 24-hour fast in support of climate justice and a FAB deal in Copenhagen.