Monday, 14 December 2009

Denmark prepares to welcome Obama

Lisa Williams-Lahari, Climate Pasifika media
Sunday 14 December 2009, COPENHAGEN-- The impending visit of American President Barrack Obama (right) has created a hype of its own in addition to meeting the needs of an already comfortably full COP venue work. With numbers of government delegations expected to spike as leaders arrive into the next few days, the behind the scenes work is expected to step up in presence, with the security price tag alone estimated to be at least 100million USD. Much as Pacific leaders would like to claim a special audience with the Hawaii-born President, there's no sign of that happening or even any information on whether such a meeting has been requested.  

Back in  logistics, team members expect the dimensions of security will go smoothly at least, in the Bella Centre. "Yes of course it creates an interesting hype when the head of the most powerful nation in the world comes to Denmark. We have hosted US presidents before so it's an enormous task, but it's doable," says Logistics Chief Svend Olling.

The US will be providing their own security detail in cooperation with the Denmark Security and Intelligence services.  But Olling says apart from some separate entrance and exit areas for world leaders, the impact on those inside the Bella Centre is going to be dwarfed by comparison with those outside the COP15 venue. 

The capacity of the international airport is limited and with the arrival of world leaders as well as commercial flights, air traffic controllers will be dealing with 100 or more planes in a time-window of a few hours. 

"That's an enormous pressure on the airport," says Olling, who says linked to the air traffic, roads will also feel the increased VIP landings.

" We are talking about 100-120 motorcades between the hotels and airport, so traffic will be congested." 

The last time a US President visited COP was in Montreal in 2005, when the logistics work around former President Clinton and his travelling entourage of 40-plus security staff put the venue and any public transport links in the vicinity into lockdown.

Given this COP will welcome a President in office, and the historic manner in which Obama came into power; it's likely the security, crowds, and media hordes following his every move will ensure that disruptions to public transportation may be the closest many Danes and their COP15 guests come to Obama's attendance without switching on the TV or going online.

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