Stop Climate Chaos


Blog from Copenhagen: Part 3

Stop Climate Chaos @ Cop15

Sam Clarke
DAY THREE by Sam Clarke
Monday 14th December 2009

Sunday was spent exploring the remains of Viking longboats in Rosskilde, fascinating but hard to connect to Climate Change. The evening though was taken up - 4 hours of it - with attending a strategy meeting for a major NGO. So watching how a major NGO organises, playing my small part and attending the presentation for a new NGO take up this blog.

Large international organisations with big delegations should be at an advantage, but organising is no mean feat. In this strategy meeting nearly 200 campagners attended. I was impressed by their determination to hear every voice and not dismiss any argument. Surprisingly they got to the end having argued over a major policy issue in good heart. Splitting into policy, communications and actions people allowed them to remain focussed. The policy people are leading by interpreting what is going on (a major preoccupation here), the comms lot decide how to explain it for various audiences and the actions people work out how to make themselves heard. Much of the influence is through national delegations going to badger their own politicians or by contacting national press and telling them what a good or bad job their people are doing. But sometimes they feel the need to address delegates in a different way.

At 11am prompt I sat in a side room being briefed on the action for the day. This might run foul of the security people and no one really knew what they may do. At 12.45 we stood in the huge convention delgate area (a full 200 metres long) and on the signal donned our blue capes and started chanting. We stand with Africa and we demand kyoto targets. The hall was silended as for 3 minutes we continued to chant. The wording was carefully considered as we may sacrifice the Kyoto Protocol, but not the targets they contain. This is the position of the African countries and the G77 too (I think). Not long after we had packed our capes away a string of new protesters stood silently holding messages directed at the Canadian Government, 'Lead, follow or go home'. This is in relation to Canada's determination to reject targets and indeed any sort of emissions reduction at all. Then a silent line compaining about the absence of 350 in any of the text. It wasn't obvious what they wanted until later.

Finally back into the real world to reach the Klima forum, the centre of non-delegate action. 350.org is a new organisation promoted by architect Bill McKibben. He calls for a return to 350ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere (it now stands at 390ppm) after the work of US scientist James Hansen. He has set up a virtual organisation to promote this idea globally. It was evident in the UK on Oct 24 when there were over 5000 demonstrations of one sort or another around the world. He is an inspirational speaker and the ask is simple - though different from ours focusing as we do on 2°C. Even his inspirational approach was hardly a match for having to keep the audience warm for an extra 40 minutes while we waited for the president of the Maldives. He arrived in the end and was worth the wait. It was his government which held a Cabinet meeting underwater! Maldives is a low lying island group which has everything to lose by rising sea levels. Not ony did he echo the 350 call (we had been taught to chant this by this time) but announced that the Maldives would be zero emissions in ten years.

It was interesting to wonder how this movement had grown so fast and whether it had more mileage in it yet.

Tomorrow, delegate rationing starts. This doesn't mean we eat less, just that despite having official status there, each NGO delegation will be reduced to 20 of its original size. The queues were huge this morning and the crowds inside beginning to get oppressive. I wonder whether this will fix it. Much grumbling all round!

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