Report from Copenhagen Climate Conference

Report from a climate activist:

I wish I had more time to update you on many things that are going on here, but here go at least some key issues that are happening… especially because the situation has become most urgent: a huge assault is going on towards civil society here in Copenhagen.

A number of you have expressed feelings of appreciation for me coming over here with you all in my heart… Well, know that your interests and those of future generations are represented here by thousands of people from all sorts of groups from around the world. Now, everyone knew police presence would be high and there could be tension… but over the last days, the police tactic has been to a „preventively“ arrest large groups of people – you may have heard of the 900 arrests during the large peaceful march of 100.000 people last Saturday. I know some of the people who were arrested: they are interpreters, NGO volunteers… who were forced to sit on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs in the freezing cold for 5 hours or more… some even had to piss themselves because they were not allowed to get up and use a toilet. Others were kept in cages and pepper-sprayed while they were in them! All but a dozen people were freed with no charge – they had done nothing wrong. Last night, Christiania (a very special alternative neighbourhood) was assaulted especially harshly during a party where many friends and co-workers were (I would have been there, except I had to interpret last night!), with tear gas bombs, water trucks, dogs and hundreds of police, who terrified people and made selective arrests – they knew who they wanted, and it was the leaders of some of the main movements and networks, the great majority of them peaceful. Things have escalated today: the social movements offered a press conference to denounce last night’s detentions, and shortly after even more leaders, plus most of those who gave the press conference, were also detained. All these detentions are being carried out under the strict Danish law that allows such preventive measures for little or no reason. And why are they doing this, you may wonder? Well, because the social movements are organising and acting together due to the following main issues:

a) the fact that at the official meeting in Bella Center, it is not our governments negotiating in our names to save the climate: it is about corporations sharing out the carbon credit cake. Even hardened activists are shocked at how openly business representatives are trying to make the most bucks out of the proposed carbon markets and Clean Development Mechanisms… the lobbyists are cajolling and bullying their way around… in a nutshell, the corporations have complete hold over the negotiators and the whole process inside the Bella Center – it is not transparent and certainly not in the benefit of the people nor the planet.

Not to mention how developed countries are trying to squeeze their way out of any legally binding limits on the pollution they spew out, whether it’s greenhouse gases or agrochemicals or toxic waste… and the misery they cause to economically poorer countries… This part deserves a whole other email!

b) the fact that the solutions that are being provided to deal with the cllimate problem are „false solutions“:

* trading markets (putting the problems in the hand of the very economists who caused the financial crisis)
* geoengineering (with a handful of countries and scientists intending to use untested technology at a scale that would affect the natural cycles and systems that regulate our whole planet – such as sending out nanoparticles to make the clouds whiter so they can reflect more sun, or placing giant mirrors in space, or using biochar at a massive scale)
* industrial agriculture (supposedly to feed the world – in a world where 40% of food is wasted -, noble words which hide incredible perversions regarding factory farming, transgenics and other new ‚bio’technologies, free trade agreements, water and land grabbing…)
* agrofuels (or prettily called ‚bio’fuels, by forcing the South to move away from food crops and chop down their forests to grow fuel for our cars in the North, instead of reducing our own consumption)

By the way, one real solution that would seriously help with the food, energy and climate crises that we face is „food sovereignty“ and small-scale peasant agriculture🙂

Points a + b mean that they are negotiating the terms of the contracts that will bind us all further to a system in which everything is for sale, even the air we breathe… and who gets what is being decided by a bunch of corporations whose plans will only worsen our future prospects!

c) Civil society had thousands of representatives in Bella Center for the first few days. Yesterday, all of a sudden, new accreditations were required and civil society representation was cut by 40%. Now they will cut it down by 80% and for the final days (when Obama & Co. are there to „sign the deal“), they will only allow 90 observers from civil society!!! To witness (not vote) one of the most significant international deals ever!!! All the more so because it will affect our changing our climate immensely…

And the people who represent you and I and all of us, who are the civil society movements here present, are seeing this and denouncing it – and that is why the police are being used to repress the voices of the people and our possibility to act!

What can you do at this point to support those of us who are trying to defend you?

* Start by calling the Danish embassy in your country and demanding that the unfair, unprovoked detentions stop, and tell them that the outside world is watching them, even if it is not on the mainstream media
* Tell all your press and media contacts to follow this story – there will be press releases going out about this all over the world, but the media need to pick up on them. As soon as I get my hands on the official press releases that will come out tomorrow, I will send them on.
* Put this out on Facebook etc… but please protect my anonimity!
* Organise a protest in front of the Danish embassy in your country, of UN offices, your own government, or other places you may think of.
* Use your imagination!

There are thousands of activists here, normal, lovely people like you and me, that are prepared to give a lot here in order to turn this around. We will be marching tomorrow, 16th of Dec, in the streets of Copenhagen to denounce the lack of transparency, the corporate control and the false solutions that are being pushed onto us, and the lack of a space for civil society to be heard. We know it is likely to turn nasty however peacefully we march. We need your support and encouragement. We need you to be alert and make this a global call for social justice and climate justice.

With much love and hope,

PS. Here are links to news of the arrests and tomorrow’s march, on The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/15/copenhagen-194-arrests

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/15/danish-police-mass-protest-copenhagen

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