Mario Di Simine

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For rent: COP15 apartment, $5,000 for 2 weeks

December 11, 2009

DENMARK CHRISTIANIA

In a country where income taxes can run as high as 60 percent and the word most used to describe almost everything is “expensive”, it’s little wonder the locals are eager to pocket a few extra Danish kroner during the COP15 Copenhagen climate conference.

And if the extra money comes in under the table, even better.

With the hotels and hostels booked solid, some Danes have opened their homes to some of the 34,000 delegates who were tardy in their bookings.

A waiter told me that he and his roommate had rented out their two-bedroom apartment for the two-week duration of the conference for a whopping $5,000. He didn’t want his name used, of course. That money will not make it into the country’s coffers.

Not everyone has hit the COP15 jackpot, though. A taxi driver told my colleague they have been hit hard by the conference. You would think that 34,000 guests to the city would need a ride or two. So did the cabbies until the Danish government stepped in and provided delegates with free shuttle buses and travel passes. Many delegates are from NGOs, and a good number are students. For many, a penny saved is a penny more for lodgings and eating. For the city’s frustrated cabbies, it’s no fare.

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