The sights and sounds from the streets of Copenhagen during the COP15 Climate Conference. As broad frustration grew with the direction of the COP15 negotiations, international networks of people’s movements, civil society groups, indigenous peoples organizations and grassroots activists united to expose the COP process as undemocratic, unjust, and inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem.
More from the streets of Copenhagen here
As the COP 15 climate talks entered their final days and world leaders converged on Copenhagen, thousands demonstrated in the streets of Copenhagen as part of the “Reclaim Power” movement. As broad frustration grew with the content and direction of the climate negotiations, two international networks of people’s movements, civil society groups, Indigenous Peoples Organizations and grassroots activists united to stage mass non-violent civil disobedience to expose the failure of the COP process. Representatives of these networks, Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now!, declared that, given the urgency of the climate crisis, it is time for dramatic action to expose the COP process as undemocratic, unjust and inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem.
The Reclaim Power action brought together climate activists, representatives of climate-impacted communities and Indigenous peoples from around the world for a peoples assembly that took place outside the Bella Center. The range of actions included not only participants in the COP process walking out of the talks but also thousands of people who have been excluded from the talks making their way into the grounds of the Bella Center to call for Climate Justice.
“The current levels of action to fight the suffering & injustice aren’t enough. We need to make it the primary aim of human society, & everyone’s absolute priority, to maximize well-being for everyone, instead of competing for profit. Please help fight the suffering & injustice (& help reform structures so that we can achieve this) & it will help you too. We all want the same underlying things.”
“I participated in this protest because climate change is already killing people in Africa. This is an emergency and we need climate justice now! We must acknowledge that we from the south are the real creditors and the governments of the North are the real debtors. They owe the world economic debt, ecological debt and climate debt and they must pay now!”
- Wahu Kaara of the Kenya Debt Relief Network.
“We have no more time to waste. If governments won’t solve the problem then its time for our diverse people’s movements to unite and reclaim the power to shape our future. We are beginning this process with the people’s assembly. We will join together all the voices that have been excluded—both within the process and outside of it.”
- Stine Gry, Climate Justice Action.
About 300 COP 15 delegates marched out of the Bella Center and attempted to join the protests outside, led by members of the Bolivian delegation and the Indigenous Peoples Caucus. These delegates were met with police truncheons; some were badly bruised. Hundreds more UNFCCC accredited Civil Society observers were denied access to the Bella Center all together, including the entire Friends of the Earth International delegation, who staged a sit-in in the lobby at the Bella Center– and the Indigenous Peoples Caucus, who were scheduled to meet with Bolivian President Evo Morales.
“In the wake of the mass exclusions of critical civil society voices from the COP 15 process, and with the future of our planet literally hanging in the balance, we joined the mass nonviolent movement in Copenhagen to protest the unjust agenda of the rich countries who are trying to strong arm the rest of the world into accepting their agenda of allowing global warming by 2 degrees — which will literally wipe entire nations off the map.”
“ I think its important that people understand that these are non-violent protests, if you go to the reclaim power website, you will see a very clear statement of principles that this is an act of non-violent civil disobedience, and the organizers further state that even if they are faced with violence by the police, they will not escalate. Now I think that this is very important to understand because … there have been big debates in the activist community about whether or not to have a ‘diversity of tactics’ – there has been a very real reluctance to lay down these kind of very clear rules. In this case, the rules are down because there is a widespread understanding that the best thing that could happen to the corporations … is for the discussion about real solutions that we want to have outside the Bella Center … if it were upstaged by a very boring discussion about cops versus protesters, and broken windows, and non-violence versus violence – that is so not the discussion that we want to have.”
- Naomi Klein, Journalist, Activist and Author of “The Shock Doctrine”
“We want to talk about the violence of climate change, which is on such a huge scale, I mean here at this confernce we’ve been talking about decisions made by negotiators about 1.5 versus 2 degrees and one route could lead to the additional deaths of millions of people. So the stakes are very high, and what I’ve seen is a huge commitment in the activist community to keeping the focus on the issues. … and I think that part of what’s happening here in Copenhagen is that there has been this huge rebranding effort, and it is related to what we are talking about here beause you’ve got companies like Siemens and Coka-Cola who are saying that they are trying to co-brand with the summit and show Copenhagen as this place where this decisive summit happened, and it doesn’t have room for what people want to say about what’s not working about this summit, so people are just being taken out of the picture whenever the message interrupts with that ‘Hopenhagen’ message”
- Naomi Klein continued.
“The real violence is happening inside the negotiation rooms. Decisions taken there (and NOT taken there) are leading to more natural disasters, more land grabs, more evictions in the name of environement protection and more hunger and poverty. The more the talks advance, the more farmers and activists are muzzled. Some countries are excluded from the discussions through the “green room” processes, accreditations to the conference are suddenly being restricted and protestors are arrested arbitrarily.”
“Two degrees … means simply I will [have to] accept the total destruction of my continent and her people in Copenhagen. That, I would not do. That should not be asked of Africa, because it is effectively saying Africa is not a part of the human family. It is our responsibility, as one human family, not to think that any of us does not matter … We have to address this issue with the sense of morality and the sense of leadership necessary. Because climate change equally gives us a huge opportunity for a transformative approach to the challenge, making it possible to launch a green economic development that will benefit all, we must think and perceive of a world in which prosperity is possible for all, not simply an issue of defending or advancing the dominance of one group against the others.”
- Lumumba Di-Aping, the chief negotiator for the G-77. The Group of 77 represents 134 developing countries. Effectively, it represents 80 percent of the world population.
“I’m writing from inside the negotiations where the mood is getting tenser by the hour. The formal sessions have been delayed at the moment as diplomats supposedly work behind the scenes to move the process forward. In rooms around the building, many developing country delegations are meeting to discuss their endgame strategy and hold strong while the pressure from rich countries continues to mount. Speeches by more heads of state — including presidents from island nations and other vulnerable countries — are scheduled to begin again in a few hours. It’s hard to contrast these pictures with the usual image of bureaucracy here inside the talks: all suits and policy papers as far as the eye can see. But under the surface, the emotions are the same. Don’t let the long-winded, even toned addresses fool you: there’s a fight going on for the survival of millions of people and many nations around the world.”
- Jamie Henn, itsgettinghotinhere.org
“Even before the farce in Copenhagen began it was looking like it might be too late to prevent two or more degrees of global warming. The nation states, pursuing their own interests, have each been passing the parcel of responsibility since they decided to take action in 1992. We have now lost 17 precious years, possibly the only years in which climate breakdown could have been prevented. This has not happened by accident: it is the result of a systematic campaign of sabotage by certain states, driven and promoted by the energy industries. This idiocy has been aided and abetted by the nations characterised, until now, as the good guys: those that have made firm commitments, only to invalidate them with loopholes, false accounting and outsourcing. In all cases immediate self-interest has trumped the long-term welfare of humankind. Corporate profits and political expediency have proved more urgent considerations than either the natural world or human civilisation. Our political systems are incapable of discharging the main function of government: to protect us from each other.”
- George Monbiot, for the Guardian
- “I think the countries that can really make a difference have not really got sensitive enough to the plight of the poorest of the poor. I think that’s a harsh reality which we have no choice but to accept. And I hope that will change. … You know, climate change and acting to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases would affect every sector of the economy. And there’s a certain inertia over there. There’s a certain vested interest that almost sees that as an enemy of business as usual. So I’m not surprised. I mean, this is something that we should have anticipated. People are not going to give up their so-called benefits. They’re not going to give up the profits that they are making from what they are doing business on. And it’s inevitable that you’ll get this kind of resistance. But I think truth will triumph, and science will triumph.”
- Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Pachauri and the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Part II Coming Soon ….
More photos from Copenhagen:
From the Reclaim Power Protest in Copenhagen, Denmark, outside the COP15 Climate Conference on Wednesday 16 December. (more to come)
Tar Sands protest outside Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the COP15 Climate Conference.
The protest was led by the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Speakers: Mother & daughter Susan and Eriel Deranger from the Athabasca Chipewan First Nation, just downriver from the Tar Sands oil projects in Alberta, Canada.
Nearly a hundred people gathered outside the Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, to demand climate justice for indigenous communities that are being impacted by the tar sands.
Besides these photos, I also video recorded the speeches made by the speakers at the protest. Some of the speakers included Francois Paulette of Fort Smith First Nation, Naomi Kline Canadian author of “No Logo” and “The Shock Doctrine”, Eriel Deranger of Rainforest Action Network, Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, and others. I will get the videos posted as soon as I can.
Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark, towards the COP15 United Nations Climate Conference to demand that the leaders sign a fair, ambitious, and binding agreement.
Organizers estimated that there may have been as many as 100,000 people taking part in the march; police estimates put the figure at 40,000. So the actual number was probably somewhere in between.
More photos from Copenhagen:
“Climate Change: Leaders of the Rich World are Enacting a Giant Fraud” by Johann Hari for GlobalResearch.ca
“Against Copenhagen: Why we need to ‘lose’ at this week’s climate summit if we are to win the fight against global warming.” - By Michael M’Gonigle for The Tyee
“Playing For Keeps: Would We Listen to Nature if Our Lives Depended On it?” by Derrick Jensen for The Onion
“Expectations and Realities in Copenhagen” by Wangari Maathai