So now I’m here. The last, and arguably the most important two weeks of my one year as-sustainable-as-possible journey across Asia and around Europe. As the most important multi-lateral summit in the Earth’s history begins, the atmosphere is buzzing.
We arrived on the train from Berlin and as we lugged The Lurkers double bass, guitar and banjo through the streets to our activist HQ apartment I was amazed. The city is covered in posters, billboards and bus-shelters all talking about climate change in one way or another – deforestation, governments, politics, justice, oceans, targets, protests, actions…
Speaking of actions, our first little effort is under our belt. We went out last night and decided there might be a dearth of activity early on the first morning so we rapidly decided to throw together some placards. Sadly, this was Sunday night and pretty much everything was shut. Most of the placard production was put off until morning. Unfortunately, this resulted in wandering around for over 2 hours just looking for a marker pen! There’s a massive niche opening for activist supplies in Copenhagen – we eventually made do with multi-coloured white board markers from a toy shop for about $6.
Eventually we made it to the Bella Centre and set ourselves up outside the entrance with two signs:
C’mon Aussie 5% is KRudd
Aussie Coal Chokes Our Hopes
…and two Darling Harbour Classic inflatable kangaroos. Pure class.
Actually, we got an amazing amount of interest. As predicted, there was a reasonable army of journalists mulling around looking for some colour to spice up their stories of ‘conference starts, delegates queue to register’. Besides that, there were a lot of bored non-government observers waiting in a queue that kept on stretching into the distance.
Tragically, I didn’t take any photos while we were down there… too busy singing “c’mon Kevin, c’mon c’mon” and “punch above your weight Kevin” (yes, the kangaroos did have completely lame red boxing gloves printed on them).
Later, I remembered that I have a camera permanently glued to my hip and actually made use of that while Mithra was interviewed for the Danish TV DR1. We just found out that it was on the evening news tonight, apparently with an estimated audience of over a million.
Generally, I take the view that everyone’s contribution to change on an issue is a valid and important as part of an overall movement or campaign – and I still hold to that. That said, it’s been pretty frustrating observing a broad part of the activities of non-government organisations here. So many experienced campaigners are spending time in planning and strategy meetings rather than organising and mobilising. In normal times, sure, that’s a necessary part of a campaign – but here, now?! – surely the time for planning was a year ago, six months ago, hell even two weeks ago. A lot of the sessions and info coming out seems to be really entry-level too – again, important in a broader campaign in terms of inclusiveness, but if you’re going to blow the massive carbon debt of flying here, you should be well-versed already. To put a controversial hypothesis out there, it seems to me that a lot of people somehow feel that having the information first – being the first to twitter, blog or report back in a plenary about the minutiae of movement from the government negotiators is somehow effecting change and also elevating their personal status.
Is personal ambition crippling the potential of the climate movement in Copenhagen?
I know this post hasn’t been very explanatory, so I’ll point you to a couple of handy resources outlining what is going down inside the conference.