Wednesday, 13 January 2010

In the crowd at Copenhagen

A report from CI’s Climate change policy intern Maherunesa, who went to Copenhagen after winning a place with the Platform 2 Countdown to Copenhagen Pledge Competition.
Away from the Bella Center, a crowd of 100,000 gathered in central Copenhagen ready to march for climate justice. The global need for civil society to make a stand against climate change was unmistakable, as protestors had come from all over the world, including Bangladesh and Cameroon. This truly emphasised the universal aim of the crowd – to empower the voices that are not being heard, the voices of those already being affected by climate change.

Undeniably the atmosphere was electric as the determined crowd marched through the streets of Copenhagen with jubilant chants, costumes and props. One such spectacle included a Statue of Liberty relentlessly churning out smoke, reminding all those around of the target to reduce carbon emissions. Though the media had unfortunately chosen to focus on the very small number of irresponsible actions, it had been the peaceful and friendly atmosphere of the protest that really dominated the crowd.

In spite of the biting cold, demonstrators remained hopeful in pressuring world leaders to make a fair and binding deal. As the city crept into darkness, spirits remained high. The 4-mile march had entered the evening until finally the UN conference centre had been reached. Climate change already causes 300,000 deaths a year, and so as a reminder of this, a candle lit vigil had been held, with the crowd hoping that world leaders could stop this number from rising.

As the march came to a close, protestors felt confident that their message was clear – the world is aware of climate change and climate justice is needed now.

Though some may argue the march came to a somewhat chaotic end, the next day brought a strong sense of optimism as crowds gathered around to hear the charming Archbishop Desmond Tutu deliver an inspirational speech. Through his wit and warmth, Archbishop Tutu made the message clear – climate change affects everyone, and accordingly the crowd supported this notion. The UN Climate Change Chief, Yvo De Boer then made his presence on the stage where he received 512,894 pledges from around the world in support of a fair and binding deal at the UN conference. Yvo De Boer concluded by stating his hope to make the decision makers notice the vast number of people who are fighting for climate justice.

These positive events injected some much needed hope in Copenhagen, though it seems that the thousands of voices of civil society remained ignored within the Bella Centre. Nonetheless the events of the weekend were incredibly refreshing as they showed that so many people are aware of climate change and will still continue to fight for those who cannot.

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