Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Civil disobedience and an agenda from below at COP15

Yesterday, over 2,000 activists from ‘No Borders’ marched in Copenhagen to highlight the increasing links between climate change, militarism and displacement of peoples from the Global South. According to their press release;
The protest, which started at midday, was surrounded by riot police throughout, despite being granted legal permission. By the end of the demonstration street medics reported one broken hand from a baton strike and two dog bites, one of which was sustained by a journalist.

Cheers broke out during the march following news that the G77 delegates suspended the Copenhagen negotiations.

Dan Glass, for Climate No Borders said, “Today we stood in solidarity with those who are already displaced by the current effects of climate change, wars for resources, and those who will experience the negative effects of the false market based solutions being proposed at the COP15. This has been an ecitigstep in thethe run up to the Reclaim the Power action on Wednesday”

He added, ‘All the activists were determined to not let the police intimidation stop their cries for justice and loudly chanted “no borders, no nations, stop deportations!” from beginning to end.’

At the end of the demonstration activists in Copenhagen's Parliament Square detached and deflated an orange globe put on display by the Danish Ministry of Climate Change to highlight that the Danish Government's commitment to climate change is 'simply hot air'.
The issue of climate change and wars for resources is one of the most contentious issues in the entire climate debate, and as such deserves highlighting.

Natural resources are a key element not only of human survival, but also for maintaining power. That's why the US took over Britain's ambition to maintain control over oil supplies in the Middle East, and the Trans-Afghanistan natural gas pipeline was of considerable value to reduce dependance on Russia. It's why the inhabitants of the Niger Delta have taken to armed resistance and sabotage. It's also why leaders will stoke up ethnic hatred if a minority is viewed as having greater access to or control over resources.

Such conflicts, considerably exacerbated by the foreign policy of the great powers and by the enforced neoliberalism of the IMF, are responsible for mass displacement of people. Obviously, with the depletion of natural resources involved in climate change, such wars and oppression (along with subsequent refugee flows) will only increase.

In response, Western nations are only tightening their border controls and creating greater restrictions on freedom of movement. As Amy Jacobs of Climate No Borders said, “Instead of dealing with the root causes of this migration for survival, governments around the world are instead employing increasing levels of border control and militarisation. We reject this inhumane racist repression, and demand complete social change to a borderless world where all people can survive climate change and war, and not just the rich, those born in Europe, or the documented.”

Such injustices also highlight the need for people, not politicians, to take the intitiative on climate change. This, indeed, is the aim of the Camp for Climate Action at COP15;
On the 16th of December, at the start of the high-level ‘ministerial’ phase of the two-week summit, we, the movements for global justice, will take over the conference for one day and transform it into a People’s Summit for Climate Justice. Using only the force of our bodies to achieve our goal, our Reclaim Power! march will push into the conference area and enter the building, disrupt the sessions and use the space to talk about our agenda, an agenda from below, an agenda of climate justice, of real solutions against their false ones. Our action is one of civil disobedience: we will overcome any physical barriers that stand in our way – but we will not respond with violence if the police try to escalate the situation.


Our goal is not to shut down the entire summit. But this day will be ours, it will be the day we speak for ourselves and set the agenda: climate justice now! We cannot trust the market with our future, nor put our faith in unsafe, unproven and unsustainable technologies. We know that on a finite planet, it is impossible to have infinite growth – ‘green’ or otherwise. Instead of trying to fix a destructive system, we are advancing alternatives that provide real and just solutions to the climate crisis: leaving fossil fuels in the ground; reasserting peoples’ and community control over resources; relocalising food production; reducing overconsumption, particularly in the North; recognising the ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of the South and making reparations; and respecting indigenous and forest peoples’ rights.
Those protesting in Copenhagen "will come together from many different backgrounds and movements, experiences and struggles," made up of "indigenous peoples and farmers, workers and environmentalists, feminists and anticapitalists." But they all recognise the same fact. If there is to be any meaningful action over climate change, then we must "reclaim power over our own future."