Stars come out in Copenhagen; negotiators feel the heat

Prince Charles arrives in Copenhagen.

Prince Charles arrives in Copenhagen.

COPENHAGEN–Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore, John Kerry, Ban Ki-Moon, Robert Mugabe, Prince Charles–the first wave of the famous arrived today, and tonight British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be the first “major country” head of state to join them.

In the next three days, up to 120 heads of state and innumerable heroes of the environment are expected to join the proceedings.

And negotiators, already accused of getting too little done in advance of the heavyweights, are feeling the pressure. In a briefing late last night, U.S. chief negotiator Todd Stern was forthcoming:

The pending arrival of well over a hundred leaders absolutely affects the negotiation. It’s putting pressure – it’s putting time pressure – on the negotiation. And not just time pressure. I mean – typically these negotiations have really always been conducted at the minister level.  There’s been occasionally a higher-level guest – I  mean, all the way back when I was in Kyoto, Vice President Gore came for a day. But that was certainly a rare kind of situation. So this is a completely unprecedented situation, where you have a hundred and twenty, or whatever it is, leaders who are coming. And it puts pressure to finish earlier – not lots earlier, cause you know – it’s pressure to finish by, say Thursday, rather than if the thing spills into Saturday, or something like that. And, you know, ministers who have their bosses coming – I mean everybody who’s got their boss coming is particularly keen to have things in as good shape as possible. So I think it’s putting pressure, but I think probably pressure of a salutary kind. I don’t think it’s bad pressure. I just think it’s pressure.”

There is a corresponding crush of interested parties. More than 45,000 people have now applied to participate in a conference that can only accommodate 15,000 at a time. In the frigid mornings, long lines stretch for blocks outside of the Bella Center.

The UN has restricted the size of parties attached to each non-governmental organization, and organizers issued a panicked news release this morning, hoping to keep hopeful participants at bay.

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