Archive for December, 2009

Reclaim Power – System Change Not Climate Change

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
The main aim of many of us who went to Copenhagen was to take part in the Reclaim Power march on Wednesday 16th December.  The aim of the march was to create a people’s summit inside the Bella Centre where the conference was taking place in order that the people of the world could have their say.  With negotiations inside being dogged by false solutions, weak promises and the agenda dominated by the rich polluting countries, it was felt by all that exposing the sham talks and presenting positive solutions to the world was a vital reason for being in Copenhagen.


Some people were nervous about possible confrontations with the police – the aim of the march was non violent but confrontational, as the aim was to push past the police lines and enter the Bella Centre to create an alternative space.  However, with the mainstream media ignoring the voices of the majority world and failing to highlight the need for radical system change in order to solve the crisis, many of us felt that confrontational was not only necessary but inevitable.


The march was organised into several blocks, each of which was to converge on the Bella Centre.  One block included delegates and NGOs from inside the Bella Centre who came out in solidarity to join those of us coming from the outside.  This block was stopped from joining us and forcibly beaten back by riot police using batons.  When they tried to return to the bella Centre they were refused entrance.

Another block of 200 protestors were simply mass arrested and held in metal cages in freezing conditions for around 6 hrs.

metal cages used to house protestors without charge for 6-12 hours

metal cages used to house protestors without charge for 6-12 hours

We took part in the main block consisting of around 5000 activists which met at Tarnby train station at 8am and proceeded to march to the Bella Center.  The police took an aggressive stance all the way there continually trying to drive vans into the main block of protestors and repeatedly pushing and shoving people.  From time to time undercover police dragged out people from within the crowd and arrested them for no apparent reason.  In response we all formed a chain around the block of protesters to prevent police from invading and pushing us.

Several of the cumbrian contingent forming part of a human chaon around the main block of protestors.

Several of the cumbrian contingent forming part of a human chain around the main block of protestors.

As we arrived at the Bella Center the situation changed dramatically.  The police split the march in two and immediately began an aggressive action of pepper spraying the crowd and using batons to beat people back.  Several of us Cumbrians ended up in a main block where the people’s summit took place, whilst the remander were split across the police lines.  Two members of our party were pepper sprayed and had to receive treatment by activist medics.

Police using batons to beat back protestors.

Police using batons to beat back protestors.

A protestor receiving treatment by activist medics after being pepper sprayed by police.

A protestor receiving treatment by activist medics after being pepper sprayed by police.

 Despite the police violence several protestors manage to make it into the Bella Centre compound.  A makeshift bridge of inflatable beds was constructed and used to cross a canal to gain entrance into the compound.

Activists use a bridge constructed from inflatable beds to enter the Bella Centre compound, but are immediately met by riot police, pepper spray and dogs..

Activists use a bridge constructed from inflatable beds to enter the Bella Centre compound, but are immediately met by riot police, pepper spray and dogs.

A large group of around 2000 protestors held the street while all this was going on.  Despite several baton charges by police protestors managed to hold the area and the people’s summit went ahead as planned.  Eventually the police seemed to calm down and formed a chain around us but kept their distance.

Eventually the police calmed down and kept their distance.

Eventually the police calmed down and kept their distance.

The people summit took place on the road by the Bella Centre.  people broke into groups to discuss real solutions to the climate crisis.

The people summit took place on the road by the Bella Centre. People broke into groups to discuss real solutions to the climate crisis.

Eventually, after several hours, a few thousand protestors marched back into Copenhagen, reaching the city centre at around 8pm.  The day had gained wide publicity and helped to push the alternative climate justice agenda into the mainstream.  Whilst we were all pretty exhausted after a very long day, we felt that confronting those in power with the truth that radical system change is the only real answer to the climate crisis was a necessary step, and that this was just the beginning of the birth of a global movement to stop the climate crisis.  We all felt that we needed to do more at home to spread the message and that we needed to meet up when we return to discuss what we should do about it.

Watch this space!

Long journey home for Magnificent 15

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

The Magnificent 15! hope to get back to Kendal tomorrow after a long journey fraught by snow, a broken down mini bus and delays.

The group have spent a week in Copenhagen, outside in sometimes minus 10 conditions calling for a safe future for us and our children.

Despite global protests and awareness raising, current World leaders have produced a mere political statement with no legally binding targets for countries to reduce their emissions.

At a time when increasingly regular floods, drought, biodiversity loss, desertification, sea level rise etc threaten the livelihoods of billions around the world, particularly those most vulnerable living in the global South, this is a poor outcome to such an historic opportunity for nations to work together on a comprehensive, equitable and binding agreement to try to prevent catastrophic climate change.

But at least we’ll be able to enjoy an ‘old fashioned Christmas’ this December – in this foot of  snow

Copenhagen Coverage

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

For footage live from Copenhagen check out:

Join over 11 million others in signing the Avaaz petition:

With three days to go, the crucial Copenhagen summit is failing.

Tomorrow, the world’s leaders arrive for an unprecedented 60 hours of direct negotiations. Experts agree that without a tidal wave of public pressure for a deal, the summit will not stop catastrophic global warming of 2 degrees.

Click below to sign the petition for a real deal in Copenhagen — the campaign already has a staggering 10 million supporters – let’s make it the largest petition in history in the next 72 hours! Every single name is actually being read out at the summit — sign on at the link below and forward this to everyone!

Group reaches Denmark

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

The Magnificent 15 crossed the border into Copenhagen about an hour ago after a safe journey across on the ferry. They will join thousands from around the world calling for climate justice for all.

Magnificent 15 heads to Copenhagen to join call for climate justice

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

SLACC departure to COP15-3Yesterday at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal around 30 people gathered to show their support for a group of 15 Cumbrians travelling to Copenhagen to join those calling for a strong effective global deal for climate justice.

SLACC departure to COP15-2

We hope the group will represent us in Copenhagen through non violent action raising awareness of the need for a strong, equitable and binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emmissions and help vulnerable countries in the Global South to adapt to changing climates. A strong outcome from the current COP15 Summit is critical for the world’s future.

Over 2900 vigils were held around the world yesterday organized by Avaaz, a global network giving people a voice for change.

SLACC departure to COP15

To follow the groups progress, check back to this blog.

the Wave – Glasgow

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Glasgow Wave December 2009 002

Last Saturday a brave coach load of Cumbrians took to the streets of Glasgow to demonstrate thier desire for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty to be signed at the Copenhagen summits this week.

Glasgow Wave December 2009 027

Thousands lined the streets in a huge wave of people calling for climate justice for all.

Glasgow Wave December 2009 020

Glasgow Wave December 2009 040

Climate change affects us all. While we can’t be 100% sure that any particular extreme weather event is attributable to climate change, the unprecedented levels of rainfall in Cumbria in recent weeks, and their tragic results, are completely coherent with the predicted consequences of climate change.

Unless we take robust and urgent action on personal, political and professional levels we can expect such events to happen with increasing frequency. We need action now for a real deal for climate justice.

Fourteen days to seal history’s judgment on this generation

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Yesterday 56 newspapers in 45 countries took the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June’s UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: “We can go into extra time but we can’t afford a replay.”

At the deal’s heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.

Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world’s biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.

Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of “exported emissions” so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than “old Europe”, must not suffer more than their richer partners.

The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.

Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.

Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.

Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”.

It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.

The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history’s judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.

This editorial will be published tomorrow by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. The text was drafted by a Guardian team during more than a month of consultations with editors from more than 20 of the papers involved. Like the Guardian most of the newspapers have taken the unusual step of featuring the editorial on their front page.

This editorial is free to reproduce under Creative CommonsEditorial-logo-001