Not much cop, but a lot of cops

IssueFebruary 2010

Even for those who expected nothing, COP15 was still a huge disappointment; a body-blow to a stricken planet, its environment and its politics. For this we owe a “special” thank-you, as per usual on matters of war and justice, to the USA. For people who put their faith in Barack Obama, he proved more Judas than Jesus, for thirty pieces of silver read dirty piles of petrodollars. Nevertheless, there were signs of hope: ourselves, the climate justice movement.

Here participants in last year’s Climate Camp Cymru reflect on Copenhagen.

From Pembroke to the People’s Assembly
by Vicky Moller

UK climate campers were central to the humorous heroic endeavour to storm the Bella Centre and hold a People’s Assembly there. It failed, so people sat down between the police battle lines and held it anyway on the frozen ground.

20 groups formed circles, debated and made action plans while the battles rumbled on two sides of them. “Surreal!” commented one of many first-time protesters.

I was on the metro with delegates who rose to wave and cheer the protesters who embodied their feelings. “I’m fed up with being a scientist, I want to be a trouble-maker,” said one. In this Euro capital of cycling (a third of Danish journeys are made by bike), abandoned old bikes are everywhere.

Many protesters had been to the workshop, “The Candy Factory”, and made up working bicycles from the hundreds discarded in affluent Copenhagen. The bikes would be left behind for the needier people of the city. Meantime, they were used in protests and to transport food, much of it reclaimed from skips, the city’s surplus.

Copenhagen turned the world upside down. There were governments in the grand Bella Centre acting like children while children on the frozen streets acted like governments. I saw the powerful in disarray; humour defeat fury; generosity feed thousands. As far as I know, only one person was deported – for cycling into a policeman. And he was from Pembrokeshire, my neighbour! I don’t think I know a gentler boy, a bit clumsy perhaps...

UNfair play
by Isabel, Alex and friends

UNfair play is a group of young people who went to the UN negotiations in Copenhagen determined to do everything in their power to amplify the voice of the poorest countries, those who contribute least to climate change and have most to lose.

20 December 2009: There is a text on the table. We all know it’s not enough: it’s not fair, ambitious or legally binding… State after state takes the floor to emphasise that if this deal were signed, it would lead to the deaths of large chunks of humanity.

The most shocking part of all of this is how it was created. Earlier this week, China was in uproar over the Danish text – “It’s fallen out of the sky, there is no way we can discuss this”. Meetings are happening behind closed doors, for those countries informally dubbed “friends of the chair”. Out came an “agreement” that no one will agree to. Sovereign equality has been ignored.

At the beginning of the week, civil society organisations were largely evicted from the conference centre. Posters reading “How can you make decisions about us, without us?” appeared everywhere. The same now seems to have happened to the less economically-advanced.

Thankfully, at least for now, it is impossible to make a deal about them without them. UN consensus rules that everybody needs to agree, which is why no agreement has come out yet. Hopefully, at some point in the near future, those who are excluding others will realise that they are excluding themselves as much as the rest of the world.

Democratic deficit
by Lotte Reimer

Open letter to the Danish government on the land of her fathers (and mothers):

A bewildered young man sits in a Copenhagen café, cold, lonely, his wrists hurting. What happened?

One moment he was marching full of hope towards a better world. The next he was sitting on the cold ground with his wrists held behind his back with plastic cable ties. Held for hours, released in the middle of the night in a foreign city. What had he done wrong? Nobody told him.

A nice middle-aged woman stands in the street, tears streaming down her cheeks. Pepper spray, they say, her own fault. She went to meet the climate negotiators, she had something to say. About her grandchildren’s future. But you can’t do that in a democracy.

A young policeman nervously watches the crowd from behind his black visor. He can’t see the hopeful young man. He can’t see the nice middle-aged woman with her message to the leaders. Her resemblance to his mother. He sees only troublemakers. He has a job to do. He has to protect… What was it again? Citizens? But they’re marching! Delegates? But they want to meet with the march! Democracy? But what is that? It’s too difficult. It’s just a job. Just follow orders.

Brian Mikkelsen, Danish Minister of Justice, you praise the police for a job well done. You are wrong!

Your government was wrong all along. With your “rascal package” legislation, your massive show of force, the “baton soup”, pepper sprays, water canon, “Guantanamo lite” detention cages…. You were all so terribly wrong.

That wasn’t the agenda. It was about our shared future. And we had something to say.


Topics: Climate Change
See more of: Wales