Copenhagen Diary: Conference of a thousand limousines

  • @tompeck

*After all the talk, the talks begin in earnest today, with a carbon footprint big enough to squash a small Pacific island. By boat, bus, plane and train (but mainly by plane), 20,000 delegates, campaigners and journalists are arriving in Copenhagen in advance of "the most difficult talks ever embarked on by humanity". More than 1,200 limousines will grace the city's streets as 98 world leaders talk about how to save the planet. Most of the stretched vehicles have been driven hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden. Last week, France ordered an extra 42 of them. Only five of the limos are hybrid – the rest are petrol and diesel.

*Copenhagen airport expects 140 extra private jets when the talks peak at the end of next week, a number so far beyond its capacity that they will be forced to drop off their VIPs before relocating to other regional airports to park, and then return to pick the passengers up.

*Among the personal jets will be Air Force One. President Obama's £180,000 limousine, known as "The Beast", will arrive on a separate flight with a fleet of decoy helicopters, up to 500 security staff, six doctors, two chefs and his personal BlackBerry handler.

*At the conference's halfway point, on 12 and 13 December, a special train will arrive in Copenhagen laden with demonstrators who will form (in their own words) a "blue tide, like drops of water". Waiting for them, and coming out of the opposite corner, will be the brand-new water cannon recently acquired by the Danish police – the nation's first. A local newspaper has been running a competition to name it.

*All hotel rooms were booked up long ago, but authorities have keenly advertised one final accommodation option – a temporary prison in a disused brewery, containing 37 steel cages, room enough for 370 detainees. Anyone after a place will need only to "inhibit police work", a custom-made crime carrying an automatic 40-day prison term. A shorter stay of 12 hours is also available, for which no evidence of crime is required.