Dec 2009 07

From this morning till 18 December 15,000 delegates will descend on Copenhagen to work towards negotiating a treaty to succeed Kyoto and reduce emissions. However, even before the conference has begun, there have been questions over whether a new deal will be struck.  US President Barack Obama and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen have conceded that the conference is unlikely to produce a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, and are beginning to make arrangements for a delay until the next conference, in Mexico.   British officials also do not expect a new deal, with binding restrictions, to be agreed this year. 

In light of that and the large number of other international conferences that have been held this year, taxpayers around the world – who will be supporting the conference and the delegations being sent there – might question whether the conference will constitute good value for money.  This research note provides the first estimate of the total cost of the conference.

Download the full report here (PDF).

Key Findings

  • A conservative estimate of the total cost of Copenhagen is £130 million ($215 million, €143 million).
  • This estimate is based on the Danish government budget and the costs to participating governments of sending 15,000 delegates – including flights, accommodation, food, conferencing facilities and salaries paid to delegates while they are at the conference.  It is a conservative estimate as it leaves out costs such as the need for supporting work by staff in the home countries.


Download the full report here (PDF).

Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“The politicians and bureaucrats going to Copenhagen seem to think that it’s unlikely that they’ll reach a deal and they know that even if they can get something signed, an increasingly sceptical public aren’t going to accept ever more expensive climate change policies.  This means that a huge amount of money is going to be spent on the summit, and thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted to get there, just to give the delegates a good photo opportunity.  Politicians need to stop this expensive jamboree and instead focus domestically on bringing down the ruinous cost to ordinary families of green taxes and regulations.”

  • John

    This is a very interesting question. Just saw some newspapers writting about it in

  • Nick

    But…..and I appreciate this is a strange point: those hotels are private businesses, so they can either invest or otherwise, the petrol needed to fuel the cars pays for a job somewhere in the private sector, the caterers will be paid and so forth.
    I know it’s a complete waste of money (most politics is) but these excursions do literally pour money into the local economy. Yes it’s tax payers money and yes it is a waste of money, but the supporting businesses around it are benefiting and that then goes back into the global economy in some fashion. Am I mistaken? I don’t understand the wider implications but I’d rather see one person employed than a penny of tax spent but government is a consumer as well.
    However, 15,000 people won’t make a single decision. It’s nothing more than grandstanding. However, it would be nice to think of politicians and journalists sharing flights like buses, hopping from one country to another to collect everyone.

  • Colin Runeckles

    If you had a decent management accountant working for you then he would tell you that you shouldn’t include delegates’ salaries in your total.
    These people are going to be paid whether they are at the conference or not. It’s not an additional cost is it?

  • robert cox

    we heve no money jobs for the boys and girls

  • robert cox

    why is brown so hell bent on crippling this country how much longer can this go on please we need you to do more for our people

  • Rich

    Colin Runeckles is right, the salary line-item shouldn’t be included. And if it was going to be included for some reason, don’t use the median, of all things! Does nobody on your research team know about skewness? A similar observation goes for the use of an “average” (which one and why?) to estimate hotel costs.
    You might have got the right answer, but if you did it’d be by sheer luck. Your numbers could be far too high or far too low and you have no idea of knowing which or by how much.
    Finally, your headline states that this is “our money”. What percentage of the bill is paid from tax revenue and how much from the event’s 20 commercial sponsors? You somehow neglected to mention that.
    This is the most amateurish piece of “research” I’ve seen in a long time. No wonder the Daily Express didn’t use the numbers when it lifted the quote: even they aren’t that daft.

  • frankos

    I suppose the point is this could all have been done by video conferencing and email without the circus, at no more cost than usual salaries and overheads.
    Vanity was the main point, not global warming.

  • Nobby

    With the poorest countries walking out of the Summit, pointing thier fingers at the richest countries and overpowering business interests, it does seem our leaders have failed us again.
    We need some real action from all Governments to cut carbon emmissions. Brown didn’t control the business intests and Cameron looks even less likely to suceed, so which party can deliver?

  • frankos

    Poorer country need trade not charity, and they need to be able to trade as small, medium + large independent businesses, keeping any foreign start up capital as far away from their often corrupt governments as possible!
    A cartload of cash poured into these countries as “well meaning” initiatives will just be swallowed up by greedy bureacrats, and so a much better use of money would be direct funding of local projects.

  • RMcKie

    Interesting point about how you came to the figures. And the commentator is right about salaries – they are civil servants (mainly) and most work for non-job departments or useless quangos. However, the baseline cost of food and hotels can easily be established by taking the lowest cost hotel in Copehagen and multiplying it by the number of delegates. We would then know that the minimum cost was £x million. It is, of course likely to be much higher as comrade Gordo and comrade O’Barmy and co. would not be staying in a £50 a night B&B….
    I think the figure of £20 per day per person for food is very low. More like £30-40.
    Hotel minimum cost per night would probably be around £50 for a basic place (likely that prices would have risen because of this jamboree).