It has been billed as the summit that could help save the planet, but the latest United Nations climate change conference on the paradise island of Bali has itself become a major contributor to global warming.
Calculations suggest flying the 15,000 politicians, civil servants, green campaigners and television crews into Indonesia will generate the equivalent of 100,000 tonnes of extra CO2. That is similar to the entire annual emissions of the African state of Chad.
When it was first conceived, only a few thousand politicians civil servants and environmentalists were expected to attend the conference - about normal for such an event.
The meeting, which runs from December 3-14, aims to create the framework for a successor to the Kyoto treaty on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, which expires in 2012.
However, climate change's growing political importance has led to a surge in interest in the conference, which is being held in the luxury holiday resort of Nusa Dua on Bali's palm-fringed southern coast.
Attendees are expected to include celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, and Al Gore, the former US vice-president.
Many are merely "observers" who have no formal role to play in the talks, which largely involve government ministers and officials. Among these observers are 20 MEPs and 18 assistants whose itinerary includes a daytrip to the idyllic fishing and surfing village of Serangan.
The UN has also recently received thousands of new registrations from groups campaigning for the environment or fighting against poverty. WWF, one of the largest, is sending more than 32 staff to the meeting.
Thousands more are coming from businesses, especially the burgeoning carbon trading sector, which already carries out global transactions worth ?12 billion a year and has an acute interest in the outcome of Bali.
Indonesian officials say the final tally could reach 20,000 - and fear it could stretch the resort's infrastructure to the limit. About 90% of the emissions will be generated by delegates flying thousands of miles to Bali, with the rest coming from the facilities they will be using.
Chris Goodall, a carbon emissions expert who did the calculations for The Sunday Times, estimated that each person flying to Bali would, on average, generate the equivalent of 6.48 tonnes of CO2. If 15,000 people attend, this adds up to over 97,000 tonnes of CO2. To this must be added about 13,000 tonnes of CO2 from the conference venue and hotels - a total of 110,000 tonnes.
Goodall, author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, said: "One wonders how many people would have gone if the conference had been held in a wet October in Pittsburgh."
The preparations are acquiring the feel of a huge party, with the Indonesian government seeing it as a chance to revive Bali as a tourist destination after terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005 saw visitor numbers plummet.
Britain has tried to ensure its delegation is one of the smallest among the leading developed nations. Three ministers - Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, Phil Woolas, junior environment minister, and Gareth Thomas, junior minister for international development - will attend accompanied by about 40 civil servants.
Woolas, however, is still embarrassed by the increasing scale and opulence of such gatherings. "It's like a circus," he said. "It's not just Bali. There are now more than 500 environmental treaties and conventions taking place around the world. It's a morass of Byzantine proportions. The UN oversees world governance on these issues and we urgently need to streamline it."
Three ministers in the British delegation are staying in ?330-a-night suites at the Westin Resort Nusa Dua hotel, each with their own bedroom, living room and dining room. Such apparent luxury is justified, say aides, by their need for somewhere to hold private meetings.
One of the biggest delegations is being assembled by the European Union, which is expected to send Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner, and 90 officials. In addition, all 27 EU countries are expected to send separate national delegations. Germany has one of the biggest, with around 70, and France follows close behind with 50. Even Latvia will be represented by four delegates, while Malta, an island populated by 400,000, will have two.
The emissions from Bali, although huge for such an event, remain small on a global scale. Britain, for example, emits the equivalent of 660m tonnes of CO2 a year. Achim Steiner, director of the UN Environment Programme, said such conferences could never be small. "If you want to tackle an unprecedented global challenge like climate change then people have to meet and talk. Bali remains the world's best hope to minimise the effect of global warming." ( Times )