Climate camp in Sweden

The main tent at the camp with banners against Shell plans to drill in South of Sweden.

Some 150 participants gathered the Climate Camp at Eda 50 km North of Stockholm on August 2 – 8. It was organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden and educational organizations with very broad partcipation from all strands of the climate movement as well as people’s movements representing workers, peasants, the samic people and others. People were participating from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Paraguay, Russia and Sweden. Here were many from the direct action networks as Klimax, an anarchist kitchen, Shut it down and the Nordic climate camp in the South of Sweden were some 60 people gathered in July. Here was also the climate network from the Swedish conservationist society, the transition town movement, field biologists, the anti nuclear movement, anti uranium mining activists, the new organization climate action and a number of local action groups as well as members of Friends of the Earth.

During the camp a solidarity statement was issued to support the antifascists arrested in Moscow due to the Khimki forest conflict, see:Why we need solidarity with Russian environmentalists and antifascists.

It is ten years ago since Friends of the Earth Sweden was able to organize a similar camp at Lindsberg with some 110 partcipants from all Nordic countries uniting the merging global justice movement. Since then summer camps have had not more than 35 participants and some years not been held at all.

The central camp building

As such the gathering was a traditional summer camp Swedish style out in the forest at a lake with good possibilities for swimming, walking and doing whatever you like close to nature except going to the toilet. There was a huge number of outdoor cabins fro this purpose instead. There was also possibilities to camp in tents or indoor in rather primitive houses. One of the provocative ideas coming out of the discussions at the camp was to organize next gathering in a suburb were the working class is living next time.

There was a lot of singing inspired by a workshop on the songs of the environmental movement. Most of the songs are from the 1970s and a renewal is necessary. This was done at the spot with a song against the airport which is planned to start for civilian traffic close to Uppsala. The next day an action took place in Uppsala against the plans with the help of a huge aircraft built in the camp.

A group discussion during the camp

The most heated debate at the camp was about strategy and how to translate the concept system change. Before the debate the young radicals working in the kitchen commented that the old reformists would not turn up. But this did not really become the case. In a typical Swedish manner the will was to be as concrete as possible and thus avoiding conflicts. So the main issue soon seemed to be only a question whether to be legal or not legal. Here it was easy to reach consensus. Even conservationists nowadays, at least those at the camp, can in principle say yes to civil disobedience depending on the situation. Furthermore there was a great majority or even consensus that it could include material damage as well as consensus that it could not include harming people. So the legal issue was no conflicting issue although in practice the Swedish environmental movement once strong in mass civil disobedience today is far less active.

Panel with all parliamentary parties at the camp

The other system critical issue was the question whether to work inside or outside the parliamentary system. This framing of the issue is popular among the left but something I cannot accept. A popular movement is independent and primarily not working as a negation of what tohers do but in its own merit possibly beyond both state and market. The discussion about parliamentary or not parliamentary strategies normally ends in coma by acknowledging both ways. Notably did the representative from the Norwegian climate network state that Norway was an exception as this state was completely democratic in its foundation and thus system critical non-parliamentary strategies was not necessary in this countries. This way of presenting Norwegian history was questioned by some Swedes and also the extreme belief in parliamentarism. This parliamentary approach was combined with a technocratic look at the climate issues which made the Norwegian position at the camp very isolated.

Kitchen crew with T-shirt stating Kein sex mit nazis, No sex with nazis.

The most interesting challenge in the discussion came from the Anarchist kitchen crew that stated that Friends of the Earth Sweden was not system critical as it is not opposing capitalism. As a notion that system critical must go beyond the division between economy and politics in our society and address the foundations of economy this was interesting. The fact that FoE Sweden only states that it is against neoliberalism while being reluctant to state that it is against capitalism could be seen as a proof that ti cannot justify stating that it is a system critical organization.

The answer partly stated in the discussion is that it depends on Whether system critical primarily is defined ideologically or what an organization is doing in practice. Furthermore it is a question whether capitalism is the only major criteria behind the present system or if there can be other factors too behind a development model that is causing both environmental and social crisis. In practice FoE sweden is more radical than most anticapitalist organization by addressing wider class alliances against what cab be described as both capitalist but also state centric development models.

Carmen Blanco Valer, quecha Indian, former metal worker and chair of Latin America Groups in Sweden, now at Färnebo Peoples High School discussing a climate justice network in Sweden and having next years camp in a suburb.

This was shown during the camp were peasants, Samic people and environmentalists came together to start mobilization for food sovereignty and a new model for agriculture and forestry. The main trend at the camp was in the spirit of Climate Justice Now with the help of Simone Lovera from Paraguay and System Change not climate change with the help of Matilde Kaalund from Klimaforum in Denmark. Klimaforum have not turned into a network for sustainable transition which inspired to make some similar initiative in Sweden.

There was also a debate with all the parliamentary parties as well as the Feminist Initiative. The Center party once close ally with the environmental movement was the most criticized in the panel.

The camp ended with energy strategy discussions and organizing coming actions against uranium mining.

White and grey haired antiuranium mine actvists from North of Sweden speaking with activists from Åland, a filmmaker and Gunnar Olesen from INfoRSE.

Google translated program you see below, (from the climate camp website

Monday, August 2

During the day in Eda:

The campaign Meatfree Monday quiz about food, environmental and human
rights. Before dinner the answers are looked through – the winners get
great prizes!

Bicycle Workshop – learn how tinkering with the bike, Part 1!

9:00 to 11:00 bike parade to the camp from Uppsala Central Station

Reports outside the entrance to the old station building. Do you not have
your own bike? Contact us and we will get one!

11.00-12 Opening including Staffan Lindberg!

Bolivian ambassador in the climate negotiation panel

Niclas Hällström presenting the failed negotiations and the hopeful Cochabamba climate meeting in Bolivia. Niclas have followed the negotiations oin behalf of the Swedish Conservation Society.

13:30 to 14:30 from Copenhagen via Cochabamba on the road to Mexico?

Climate negotiations in Copenhagen in which many world leaders were
unsuccessful. But Bolivia called for a climate for both governments and the
social movements and activists came several constructive proposals for
climate justice forward. How will the formal process to move forward? Will
the false solutions remain?

Simone Lovera, Paraguay, Global Forest Coalition and active in the Climate Justice
Now network
Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth Sweden
Niclas Hällström, What Next
Bolivian ambassador

Azril Bacal translating for the Bolivian ambassador. The ambassdor seemed at ease at the camp except when coming out from the outdoor toilet

15-18.00 System Change not Climate Change!

That was the slogan that emerged most clearly in Copenhagen, for example,
at demonstrations and on Klimaforum. But what do the movements mean when
they say system change? Criticism of neoliberalism, energy conversion,
leaving the fossil fuels in the ground? Opening panel discussion on how we
can move forward after Copenhagen and Cochabamba, locally and globally.
After group discussions on various themes and assembly.

Follow-up Klimaforum in Copenhagen
International Action Day October 12
Referendum from Cochabamba in October / November
Greenhouse Development Rights – a model for climate justice?

Local activism against fossil project with Heaven or sHell
The oil company Shell have done test drilling for natural gas in southern
Sweden, with the idea of extracting fossil gas commercially. Local people
rage, and warns of the effects on water, landscape, human health. Come and
learn more about how to organize themselves and how much resistance can be

Azril Bacal, Uppsala Social Forum
Carmen Blanco Valera, Latin American teams
Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition and active in the Climate Justice
Mathilde Kaalund, Klimaforum
Johanne Linster, Network Heaven or sHell
Anna Frost, the Swedish Church’s youth
Per Capercaillie, active in the Network Shut It Down

The panel from the left, Carmen Blanco Valer, Azril Bacal, Ellie Cijvat, Simone Lovera, Anna Frost, Matilde Kaalund, Johanne Linster, and Per Capercaillie.

18:00 Awards Ceremony Meatfree Monday-quiz

19:30 to 20:30 Workshop Meatfree Monday

Our great demand for meat is one of the biggest causes of many of our most
serious environmental problems and the greatest threat to world food
supply. During this workshop we talk about these issues, but focuses mainly
on how to get involved in meat production will decrease.

Per-Anders Jande
Jonas Paulsson

19:30 to 20:30 Climate justice how? – Graffiti fence / wall Journal

Workshop to begin to make a graffiti fence for climate camp.
Kajsa Grebäck, Studiefrämjandet

20:30 Short films about climate

Two short films with discussion. Filmmakers from the course at Färnebo
Folkhögskola Branch in Gothenburg.
Henry Jackson, the course “Climate change and – with the film as a tool”

Tuesday, August 3

9:00 to 10:30 People’s Movement for Change

How does today’s social movements, they are left at all? Through time,
popular movements are always pushing forward social change. But do they
have a future? What is today’s and tomorrow’s biggest challenges?
Representatives of various movements emerge with different perspectives on

Torgny Östling, Via Campesina Sweden
Carmen Blanco Valera, Latin American Groups
Leif Mettävainio, GS – The union for the forestry, wood and graphic
Malin Hammar, Democratic Alternative
Jenny Gustavsson, active in the Nordic Climate Action Camp
Moderator Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth

9:30 to 10:30 Action Planning

Planning for Wednesday’s celebration in Uppsala.
Cast: climax

10:30 to 12:00 What about energy?

The potential for energy efficiency is enormous. Many municipalities have
long had great plans to reduce energy waste, but how do you achieve these?
Would energy conversion could be faster and, if so, why does it not?
Introduction of energy efficiency then examples from Knivsta Municipality
has been identified as a good example.

Hans Nilsson, international energy advisor, Four Fact
Christina Nystrom, operations controller and investigators Knivsta

Urban and rural farming interested audience

11-13.00 Guerilla gardening

Workshop with network growth from Stockholm, on how we can cultivate our

13:30 to 14:30 Nature Tours in the climate issue with Closenatureguuides

Gustav Jilker from the Samic nation

14-18.00 Can small farmers cool the planet?

Is it true that a small-scale farming can take advantage of renewable
energy, bring back the business and take advantage of ecosystem services in
a sustainable way? How do we present the global measurement system so that
small farmers benefit rather than be discouraged? A global sustainable
agriculture should be linked to issues of food sovereignty and rural
habitats. Is urban farming an option? How can we, as social movements
operate in a fair and democratic transition to a climate-agriculture?

Group discussions on:

To take advantage of renewable energy, bring back the business and
take advantage of ecosystem services in a sustainable manner.
food sovereignty in the North and South – How do we proceed?
Town Growing and peri-urban farming – what are the benefits? City
Farmer tell of their experiences and projects.
Torgny Ostling, Via Campesina Sweden
Åke Karlsson, Small farmers
Lennart Kjörling, MST support group
Gunnar Rundgren, international consultant organic farming etc..
Kristina Belfrage, researchers at CLU, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture
at SLU
Ylva Andersson and Marina Queiroz, Matparken Gottsunda
Christer Pettersson, Winter Bay Garden
Moderator Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth

Farming panel from the left, Torgny Östling, Gustaf Jillker, Christer Pettersson, Gunnar Rundgren, Marina Queiroz, Kristina Belfrage, Åke Karlsson, and Lennart Kjörling. In front Ellie Cijvat.

20-21.30 Environmental Movement’s songs!

What has been sung and sung in the environmental movement from 60/70-tal to
the present day?
When you sing? How did the songs come to? We tell and sing together.
Louise Pettersson leads. Please bring your songs and tell or tell Louise
(louise.pettersson (at) in advance. Do you have instruments:
bring it gets funnier!

You find at lots of envrionmental songs gathered by Louise at Miljörörelsens sånger, ablog with embedded videos and more.

Wednesday, August 4

9:00 to 10:30 Workshop Banner Drop

Theoretically and practically climbing on a building and hanging banners.

9-12 Prosperity without Growth

How do we solve the economy and welfare crises? What options exist for the
current growth-based market economy? Talk about welfare policies for
growth, but experience and ideas on how the question can be written into
the broader political scene.

Annika Lillemets, MP Parliamentary Candidate
Kajsa Pornainen, President Social democratic-students
Håkan Sundberg, Common Welfare and Attac

10:30 to 12:00 Guided Nature of growth with Närnaturguiderna

15:00 Markets Meeting in Uppsala

Music, speeches and street theater to the planned low-cost place (planned
for the week).

15:00 to 16:30 Nature Tours for those who stay on Eda

20:00 Fest!

On the scene:
Climatic climax reggae!
Clara Lindsjö!
Lissi Dancefloor Disaster!

Later: Instrumental improvisation with Andrew & co in the alcohol-free bar.

Ideological evening corner

Thursday, August 5

During the day at Eda:

Bicycle Workshop – learn how tinkering with the bike, Part 2!

9-11.00 Vision of the Climate Justice Town

How can a climate fair city look like and how we work to realize it?
Introductions of alternative urban plans, the car as the norm in the city
and the social aspects of the city and public transport. After two or three
groups of deepening and discussion.

Per Hulthén, Nature Conservation
Karin Sandqvist, researchers
Mr Zampa,

11:00 to 12:30 A strategy to stop the Bypass high way Stockholm
Introduction of the situation around the road project Bypass Stockholm and
the referendum as a possible strategy and how young people can be more
involved. Then work in groups, each with a strategic plan. Ends with common

Lars Igeland, Friends of the Earth
John Ottosson, Climate Action
Catherine Bergstrom, Field Biologists

10-12.00 Forum Games.

How can we break the internal and external oppression? Forum Games
discussion as a Brazilian and has spread worldwide. In the game getaltas
current problems and solutions. You may use the body, heart and brain.
Kajsa Bilius is director and drama teacher from Vang has also committed to
justice and the surrounding environment.
14-16.00 Conversion Sweden.

Why do we ask for and how can we work locally to do it? Presentation of the
International Transition movement and exchange of experiences between local
conversion groups in Sweden.

January Forsmark, Sweden, Sala Conversion
Anders Persson, Sweden and shift Söderhamn
Bjorn Lind Bergson, Conversion Group in Sigtuna

16-18.00 How to work with social media?

Workshop with

19:30 to 21:00 Just in time for fun

Gunlög Rosen has a humorous and thought-provoking idea of cultural
encounters and cultural clashes, Swedish and conventions, common sense and
our human behavior.

20:30 to 21:30 Non-alcoholic bar and music

Anders Persson and Stefan Stenmark play and sing.

Late evening corner

Friday, August 6

9-10.30 The food and the environment – with a focus on food

450 million of the billion people who are short of food in the world are
farm workers. It is not enough to buy local, organic or fair to change the
balance of power. There is union work across national borders in the global
business. There is less market, more democracy and more focus on the daily
basis to ensure that we have food on the table.

Gunnar Brulin and Malin Klingzell-Brulin, Journal of Food Workers’ Union
Case and the Mediterranean, up to date with the book Food for Thought

10:30 to 12:00 Climate, gender and power.

It is the poorest who suffer most from a warmer climate. A majority of them
are girls and women. Environmental movement needs a gender perspective? How
can the fight against climate change combined with the struggle for greater

Lisa Gålmark; writer and debater
Gerd Johnsson-Latham, Deputy Director
Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition
Kajsa Lindqvist, Friends of the Earth

Simone Lovera criticizing neoliberalism at the camp

13:30 to 15:00 The world’s forests is more than sinks!

The rain forest is important for the climate and deforestation is a
significant factor in global emissions. But the rain forest become a
commodity on the stock market climate? How does it affect the origin and
forest people? Borealskogen is not as controversial as a carbon sink, but
it contains large amounts of carbon. What is happening to the climate
change track?

Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition
Amanda Tas, Protect Forests

14-15.00 Nuclear fuel chain

Is nuclear power is carbon neutral? How does nuclear power in Sweden and
other countries’ environmental security? And what happens to the waste is?

Miles Goldstick, Environmental Movement’s Nuclear Waste Secretariat (MILK)

3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Can we cope with climate without nuclear power?

Interview with Tomas Kåberger director general of the Energy Agency.

19-20.00 Nuclear power a threat to world peace!

Kerstin Grebäck, International President of the International Women’s League
for Peace and Freedom.

20:00 to 21:30 Inside or outside the system – how do we work?

Should we violate society’s laws fossils? Or cooperate with Vattenfall’s
CEO? There are all shades between conflict and dialogue, nothing is black
and white. A conversation about ethics, method and strategy in the fight
for climate justice.

Jennie Gustafsson, active in the Nordic Climate Action Camp
Per Capercaillie, active in the Shut It Down
Ellie Cijvat, Friends of the Earth
et al.

20:10 to 20:50 Hiroshima Day – a musical exposé on nuclear power, etc.

With My Leffler and Vimmelii

21:00 Open Stage

Welcome to behave with poetry, songs, theatrical or otherwise.

Jan Wiklund, long time Friends of the Earth/Alternative City Stockholm activist presenting his book Carriers of Democracy on the history of global people’s movements the last 2 500 years at open space.

Saturday, August 7

9-9.45 What does climate justice? – For the world, Sweden and locally

Introduction to morning programs on the conversion points for climate

Tomas Björnsson, Nature Conservation

10-12.00 A great and Democratic Transition to Renewable Energy in Europe –
how does it look?

Presentation Of The Friends of the Earth Europe and the Stockholm
Environment Institute study “The 40% Study – Mobilising Europe to Achieve
Climate Justice”, the INFORSE Scenario for Energy Transition in Europe and
a scenario on energy transition in Sweden. (In English with translation
into Swedish)

Silva Herrman, Global 2000 (Austria FOE)
Goran Bryntse, SERO Swedish Federation of Renewable Energy Association
Gunnar Boye Olesen, OVE and INFORSE Europe

10-12.00 Sustainable solutions in Europe

What is being done and how people have been ways to succeed? What are the
success factors? Ispirerande examples of innovative solutions, bicycle,
car-free cities, passive areas, lerhusbyar. If eco-villages, regions and
islands that produce their own energy by including wind, solar and
fjärrvärmekopperativ parks. If the exciting new climate movement and new
economic models.

Henrik Andersson, freelance journalist

13:00 to 14:00 Vattenfall on climate and energy

About Vattenfall’s investments in new nuclear, coal, carbon storage and
renewable energy. Hearing with Jesse Fahlestock from Vattenfall.

14-15.30 Politicians Debate – 4 weeks before the election!

16-18.00 Open forum – how do we proceed?

What happened during the camp? How can we move forward with the issues
discussed? How can we collaborate between organizations and groups? How we
take care of the initiatives and ideas that come up?

Open Space is a meeting format that makes it easier for participants to set
their own agenda. Meeting Manager is Kate Grebäck from Rainey.

20:00 Fest!

On the scene:
Markus Berjlund!
Rotor club!
Alcohol free bar!

Niclas Hällström sad after coming from UN climate negotiations in Bonn, glad to be back in the camp again.

Sunday, August 8
9-10.30 Climate Justice – by popular movements or experts?

The climate debate at scientists and other experts, a major role. Climate
models will be explained and percentages calculated. Ordinary people are
struggling to keep up with, while a broad business climate needed for the
conversion to take off. But there is a conflict between experts and public

Kajsa Grebäck, Nature Conservation’s Climate Network
Monica Sundström, Friends of the Earth
Jonathan Korsør, Democratic Alternative, etc.

(This point on  the agenda was cancelled in  favour of energy discussions. The issue had partly been covered by the discussion on strategy for climate justice.)

Russian Eco defence activists chatting with Göran Bryntse, chairman of Peoples Campaign against Nuclear power and Nuclear weapons

9:00 to 10:30 Nordic Exchange on Energy

Presentations from Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden on the situation of
the Transition to Renewable Energy – Opportunities, Obstacle & the Role of
Civil Society Organization. Discussion on Possibilities for joint action.
(In English with translation into Swedish)

10.30-12 Uranium mining in Sweden

Is it to break the current uranium in Sweden and other Nordic countries?
Exploration of multiple directions and opposition groups have been created.
Filmmaker Clara Sager Maliani showing clips from his current film project
on uranium resistance in Sweden. Then call and experience exchange with
uranmotståndesgrupper from different parts of Sweden.

Elsa Berglund, Friends of the Earth
Clear Sager Maliani, film producer
Diana Fernlund, Oviken Jämtland

Closing cermony

12:30 to 13:00 Closing!

The end

Open letter to Latin American organizations on cooperation towards COP16

Mexican flag above the Thematic World Social Forum at Zócalo in Mexico City 2010

Open letter to Latin American organizations on cooperation towards COP16
Cc Concerned Mexican organizations, CJA and CJN.

As Latin American organizations you have in an open letter addressed the issue of cooperation towards COP16 and especially pointed at Mexican organizations involved in the Pintale las rayas al cambio climatico campaign as your prefered cooperation partner while opposing the Mexican grass rooot organizations supporting the Klimaforum10 initiative.

This choice of cooperation partners and criteria chosen for making the choice between the two is of global interest. COP16 is a challenge after the failure of the official process and the successful combination of mass activities in Copenhagen as well as the Cochabamba meeting to protect mother earth. Both the mass activities carried out by Climate Justice Action, Klimaforum09, and Climate justice Now with the common demand – ”System change – not climate change” and the Cochabamba meeting was a major step towards marginalizing the role of professionalized often Northern based NGOs in world politics, groups like Greenpeace and Oxfam with their main cooperation partners in Climate Action Network and the tcktcktck campaign.

Your proposal for carrying forward these alliances that marginalized the professional NGOs makes it necessary to put some questions.

1. The climate campaign Pintale las rayas al cambio climatico you state as a main Mexican cooperation partner. This campaign is dominated in my opinion by Greenpeace, Oxfam and Mexican organizations funded by the Boell foundation linked to the German Green party. This means a strong European influence in the climate cooperation towards Cancun you prefer. The promoters of the Klimaforum10 initiative are indepedent Mexican ecological grass roots organization as Ecomunidades and Cambios that do not have international funding for their daily work or are part of transnational organizations with the leadership in the North. Why do you criticize Klimaforum10 for being strongly influenced by European interests when in fact it is rather the cooperation you prefer who can rightly be questioned for the same thing? Why do you put geograhic critieria as a main argument for your position rather than political arguments?

2. The Mexican grass roots organizations are firmly against all false solutions on climate change and support fully the Climate Justice Now platform. The organizations you prefer have stated at the Foro Social Mundial tematico that they want to combine both CJN and Climate Action Network positions. Why do you prefer to disregard the steps forward taken in Copenhagen were Klimaforum09, CJN and CJA jointly were able to marginalise the CAN professional NGOs and replace their lobbying with a joint System change not climate change message?

3. Greenpeace, Oxfam, Iniciativa 350 México, (Initiative 350), Heinrich Böll Stiftung. Oficina México, Centroamérica y el Caribe. Boell Fundation – Mexican office for Central America and the Carribean, Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, (Mexican Center for Environmental Rights) Presencia Ciudadana, (Citizens presence) and Pronatura have in a joint Mexican position paper on REDD, reduction of emissions from deforestration and forest degradation, and other COP issues declared their positive affirmation of this instrument if it is not funded by market mechanisms and indigenous peoples rights are respected. But the concerns raised by many mass movements completly rejecting REDD like in India or among system critical organizations following the process are not only an issue of financing mechanisms and rights. It is also that in practice rights are quite often not followed  and the general push for saving the climate through monoculture plantations. Critical concerns about REDD that is also reflected in the statements made by the Cochabamba Climate Conference. The Klimaforum09 declaration does the opposite from what the Mexican NGOs prefer to do. In the declaration REDD is denounced  and instead a call is made for ”An immediate ban on deforestation on primary forests and the parallell initiation of an ambitious global tree-planting program based on native and diverse species in partnership with indigenous peoples and forest depedent communities.” These ideas are shared by the Cochabamba meeting as well as the Mexican grass root groups supporting the Klimaforum10 initiative, groups that have a long standing record of being indepedent from the envrionmental NGOs participating in sustainable development lobbying within the system. On which side are you politically in the conflict between main stream environmental NGOs like Greenpeace, Boell fundation and Oxfam and grass root environmental groups as Ecomunidades and the consensus reached in Cochabamba?

4. The Klimaforum09 did not allow political parties being members of the host committee although they in their own name could organize activities during the forum. The Mexican grass root organizations behind the Klimaforum10 are also sceptical towards political parties as members of a host committee. Is this a problem for you or your Mexican cooperation partners?

Tord Björk

On behalf of myself

Member of Friends of the Earth Sweden climate working group and the Peasant and indigenous committee

Message from Latinamerican organizations on Klimaforum10:
Report from Mexico by Christophe Aguiton and Nicola Bullard:
Píntale las rayas al cambio climático:
Mexican NGOs on REDD and other COP issues in Spanish: or direct link to pdf file:
A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09: System change – not climate chnage:
Peoples Agreement, Cochabamba:

Mensaje de organizaciones latinoamericanas sobre Klimaforum10

Climate panel at the Foro Social Mundial tematico seen as a model for Cancun by some Mexican actors as RMALC opposing Klimaforum10. To the left Alejandro Villamar from RMALC, in the middle and to the right Francois Houtart. Tord Björk was the fourth participant in the panel here taking the photo.

La Alianza Social Continental, Jubileo Sur/Américas, CLOC-Via Campesina, Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe (ATALC), REBRIP, RMALC, Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI), la Convergencia de los Movimientos de los Pueblos de las Américas (COMPA) y CADTM Abya Yala estamos comprometidos en la construcción de un proceso de movilización conjunta en torno a la problemática del Cambio Climático, sus causas estructurales y sus reales soluciones.En este proceso, identificamos algunos momentos importantes en los próximos meses, como la cumbre Enlazando Alternativas, el Foro Social Américas y la realización de la COP16 en Cancún. Dado que el tema de esta última es el cambio climático, será especialmente estratégica para el conjunto del movimiento mundial sobre justicia climática.

Como se mencionó en la carta de la Asamblea de Movimientos Sociales, realizada en el marco de la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático en Cochabamba “Evaluamos que la cuestión del cambio climático es importante junto a otras manifestaciones de la crisis sistémica global. Para confrontar realmente la ofensiva imperialista debemos frenar la militarización de nuestros territorios y la criminalización de los movimientos sociales, toda la agenda neocolonial contenida en los Tratados de Libre Comercio, el endeudamiento ilegítimo, el poder de las transnacionales y especialmente el modelo del agronegocio y extractivo que promueven en la privatización de la vida y la naturaleza”.

Durante la conferencia de Cochabamba discutimos y avanzamos en consolidar las alianzas con el ánimo de afianzar un proceso de movilización hacia Cancún, lo suficientemente sólido para darle continuidad posteriormente. En ese sentido, se resaltó la importancia de  retomar y seguir construyendo a partir de las experiencias anteriores, como la de la lucha contra el ALCA, que permitió identificar puntos de encuentro y luchas comunes entre los movimientos sociales del continente que nos oponemos a este modelo económico y social. Estas luchas han sido visibilizadas de muchas maneras, incluyendo a través de la realización de Cumbres de los Pueblos, que son momentos de resistencia, debate, construcción colectiva y movilización. Estas Cumbres constituyen una tradición para los movimientos de todo el hemisferio y tienen una legitimidad ganada como espacio de lucha frente a las distintas iniciativas neoliberales en contra de los pueblos.

En consecuencia, frente a la COP16 en Cancún, consideramos que es fundamental fortalecer el proceso continental, articulando con redes y organizaciones de otras regiones del mundo, como lo hemos hecho también anteriormente. Si bien respetamos y valoramos la experiencia del Klimaforum, éste respondía al contexto europeo y danés, específicamente. Intentar trasladarlo o importarlo a nuestra región implica desconocer la realidad de nuestras luchas, así como la identidad y la historia de las movilizaciones en el continente.

Reconocemos la importancia de llevar a cabo articulaciones con otras regiones, en especial en torno a este tema, cuyas implicaciones afectan a los pueblos de todo el mundo. De acuerdo con el espíritu de lo acordado en Cochabamaba, la prioridad es nutrirse y articularse con las campañas, redes y organizaciones regionales y globales que en los últimos años han trabajado para enfrentar el cambio climático y defender los derechos de la Madre Tierra, y otras redes, organizaciones regionales y globales sectoriales y temáticas que han asumido el mismo compromiso. Muchas de nuestras redes y movimientos tienen trabajo a nivel mundial. En ese sentido, creemos que la convocatoria y las movilizaciones de Copenhague fueron muy importantes y es necesario darle continuidad a las alianzas que allí se consolidaron y que también venían de procesos anteriores. Sin embargo, ello no puede resultar en un desconocimiento de los procesos nacionales y regionales.

En relación con el trabajo que se está desarrollando en México, consideramos importante plantear algunas precisiones: existen varios grupos de organizaciones sociales de todo el país que está trabajando en consolidar un espacio amplio de convergencia y movilización. Este trabajo es el resultado de una autoconvocatoria de todos los interesados (entre ellos RMALC, las organizaciones mexicanas que forman parte de la campaña “Píntale la raya al cambio” , Otros Mundos, organizaciones de todos los sectores sociales incluidos miembros de Vía campesina, y algunas ONG’s comprometidas con estas luchas). Dado que se está buscando una coalición lo más amplia posible, basada en el trabajo con las organizaciones sociales, se trata de un proceso que requiere su tiempo, en el que es necesario hacer actividades de difusión, formación y discusión para construir consensos de carácter popular en torno a nuestras demandas por justicia climática.

Apoyamos este proceso desde el nivel regional y creemos que el espacio que se desarrolle frente a la COP16, debe ser amplio, tener un carácter político y de movilización, en el que sea posible debatir con las distintas redes y organizaciones sociales a nivel mundial, para alzar nuestras voces de rechazo al modelo económico y demandar justicia climática.

Message from Latinamerican organizations on Klimaforum10

Alejandro Villamar to the left from RMALC, Mexican Network against Free Trade  that have signed the letter from Latin American organization below. In the middle Nicola Bullard from CJN at the discussion on Cancun at Foro Social Mundial tematico in Mexico City before the letter was sent.

The Hemispheric Social Alliance, Jubilee South/Americas, CLOC-Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth (Latin America and the Caribbean), REBRIP, COMPA, Jubilee South/Americas, Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI), Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples, the World March of Women and the Mexican Network against Free Trade and CADTM Abya Yala are committed to work  together in the construction of a process of joint mobilization around the problem of climate change, its structural causes and true solutions.  We have identified several key points in the coming months including the Enlazando Alternatives Summit, the Americas Social Forum in Paraguay and COP16 in Cancun.  Since the theme of COP 16 is climate change, it is especially strategic for the worldwide climate justice movement.

As stated in the letter from the Assembly of Social Movements, held during the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba:  “We consider that the question of climate change is important, together with other manifestations of systemic global crisis. To truly confront the imperialist offensive we must stop; the militarization of our territories, the criminalization of social movements, the entire neo-colonial agenda contained in the Free Trade Agreements, illegitimate indebtedness, the power of transnational’s and especially the agro-business and extractive model which promotes the privatization of life and nature”.

During the Cochabamba conference, we discussed and advanced in the consolidation of alliances to build a process of mobilization for Cancun which is sufficiently solid to have subsequent continuity.  In this respect, the importance of building on pervious experiences such as the struggle against the FTAA, which enabled us to identify points of convergence and common struggles among the social movements of the continent opposed to this economic and social model.  These struggles are made known in many different ways including via Peoples’ Summits, which are moments of resistance, debate, collective construction and mobilization. These Summits are a tradition for the movements of the entire hemisphere and have earned legitimacy as spaces for struggle in the face of a plethora of neo-liberal initiatives against the peoples.

As a result, in the face of COP 16 in Cancun, we believe that it is crucial to strengthen the continental process, coordinating the efforts with networks and organizations from other regions of the world, as we have done in the past.  While we respect and value the experience of the Kilmaforum, it responds to the European and more specifically, Danish context.  An attempt to transfer or import it to our region would not respect the reality of our struggles, the identity or history of the mobilizations in our hemisphere.

We recognize the importance of joint actions with other regions, especially related to this theme, in light of the implications that affect the all of the peoples of the world.  In keeping with the spirit of agreements reached in Cochabamba, the priority is to strengthen ourselves and link eforts with the campaigns, networks, regional and global organizations that have worked in recent years to confront climate change and defend the rights of Mother Earth, as well as other regional and global sector networks and thematic organizations which have made the same commitment.  Many of our networks and movements are working at a global level.  In this respect, we believe that the convocation and mobilizations in Copenhagen were very important and it is necessary to continue the alliances that were consolidated there, and emerged from previous processes. However, this must not ignore national and regional processes.

In relation to the work that is happening in Mexico, we think it is important to make a few observations:  there are a number of social organizations around the country which are working to consolidate a broad space of convergence and mobilization. This work is the result of a call which went out among interested groups (including RMALC, the Mexican organizations which are a part of the “Drawing the line for Change” campaign, Other Worlds, organizations from all social sectors including members of Via Campesina and some NGOs which are a part of this struggle).  Given that the goal is the broadest possible coalition, based in the work of the social organizations; it is a process which requires time. Activities that provide information, formation and discussion must be carried out in order to construct popular consensus around our demands for climate justice.

We support this process from a regional level and we believe that the space being developed in preparation for COP16 must be broad, have a political character and be oriented towards mobilization, where a debate can be held with networks and social organizations at a global level, to raise our voices in rejection of the economic model and to demand climate justice.

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?


Success or failure? see below.

Uncertain preparatory process

The global climate day of action 2009

The main demonstration

Three left wing parties supporting the police perspective

December 12 in the media

Movement analysis

A demonstration split twice

You find extensive more material on the lack of left wing collective response to the repression December 12 – 18 and analysis at: The ALBA mass meeting: Full of lost left wing possibilities.

Photo Greenpeace Finland: / CC BY 2.0

Success or failure?

A great success with 100 000 demonstrators in the biggest and most varied mass rally ever for the environment and the climate? Or a demonstration were system critical popular movements may be allowed to play a subordinate role as providers of cannon fodder for police attacks and raising the number of participants for carrying forward a message supporting the system?

Very few questions the image of success. The number of participants exceeds any other demonstration on climate change as well as any other demonstration at environmental summits. There has been occasions with higher number of demonstrators on environmental issues as when 200 000 demonstrated hand in hand along the sea shore to protect the Baltic sea in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the late 1980s or 500 000 or a million demonstrated at the EU Summit in Barcelona 2002 were the question of water regulation and privatization was a main protest issue. There was also in total 200 000 demonstrating on climate change in different parts of Australia in 2007 but not in one place. From London there are reports of 100 000 in a climate change demonstration December 5 in 2009 but other sources than the organisers claim far less. In Copenhagen there were early reports on December 12 from the police and elsewhere stating 25 000 or 40 000. But they changed, more people came into the demonstration during the way and the police finally also reported 100 000 demonstrators. It certainly were far more than anticipated with participants filling a whole broad main street for 2,2 km.

At earlier environmental summits the demonstration figures have been considerably lower, 7 000 at the radical demonstration at the UN Summit in Stockholm 1972, 10 000 at the NGO and left wing party demonstration at the UN Summit in Rio de Janeiro 1992 and 5 000 at the more radical demonstration with favelaorganizations and their allies. 30 000 at the radical demonstration at the UN Summit in Johannesburg 2002 and far less at COP summits before Copenhagen if there was a demonstration at all.

In terms of numbers the December 12 demonstration at COP15 therefore was a success. Among the organisers there had been very early in the process talked about 100 000. But later this was reduced by all to ambitions of 40 000 and hopefully 60 000. Taking the small size of Denmark and its capital with 1 ½ million inhabitants and the cold winter into account it was a great achievement.

The diversity of the demonstration has also been put forward as a great success by many. In total there were at least 41different blocks ranging from NGOs like Action Aid to Libertarian Socialists. The demonstration was supported by 538 organizations world-wide.

Jonathan Neale, long time global climate campaigner in times of little support from Britain cannot refrain himself from making an emotional report:

”The march was long, loud, cold, bouncy, and energetic, about half Danes and half foreigners. I moved up and down the line, and everywhere people were chanting. This time the slogans were about climate, not some other issue, and they sounded and felt organic, rising up from the movement.
Every type of person was there. I marched with the Belgian unions, who kneeled and banged their green hard hats on the road and then rose and ran shouting, again and again. With the Swedish communists and their red flags. With the British campaign and our greenhouse, chanting, ‘Leave the Oil in the Soil, Leave the Coal in the Hole.’ The Danish WWF chanted that with us, and then taught us ‘Wa, Wa, Wa, PANDA!’
People were happy. No one had expected 100,000. For the activists gathered from around the world, this was the largest climate demonstration they had ever seen, by far.
From then on we knew a new global movement was possible.”

Yet many activists find that the demonstration lacked in promoting a strengthening and unifying message.

Planet First, People First march at Bella Center. Photo from tcktcktck campaign

COP15: The main demonstration 12th of December

Photo: / CC BY 2.0

The huge square in front of the Danish parliament Christiansborg was from the very start filled with the flood and more and more people poured in. The official programme of the joint mass manifestation was supposed to start. Few could hear and even less could see the speakers in spite of effective loud speakers. There were simply too many people and very many things and messages to look at. A forest of yellow placards filled the air stating “Nature does not compromise”, “There is no PLANet B”, “Bla Bla Bla .. Act now”, “Change the Politics not the Climate”, and “Climate Justice Now”.

These were messages that people had stated as important when Greenpeace made the unusual experiment and asked people to suggest slogans via their website and then produced the most popular.

Photo: / CC BY-SA 2.0

A gigantic Karl Marx roomed around with the message It’s the economy stupid, an angry mermaid together with children dressed up as mermaids was swimming in the air and the banners of climate movements, environmental organizations and political parties filled the cityscape. Many had creative dresses of varying sorts which they had done themselves while the resourceful organizations made their stunts with equally dressed people and professionally designed banners and other material.

Photos: / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Flood, the churches and the Christiania feed in

The flood starting at Halmtorvet.

Photos: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It all started at Halmtorvet close to the main venue of the Klimaforum. Here thousands of activists dressed up in blue ponchos, some as polar bears, penguins or plain clothes demonstrators. It was the flood action organized by Friends of the Earth International with the support of Via Campesina. The two thousand FoE members coming from abroad had been supplemented by many more Danes and fellow activists making the march lively with some 5 000 participants.

Photo: / CC BY-NC 2.0

The sun was shining, the mood creative and the message clear, not to false solutions! No to offsetting with global carbon trading! It all ended in front of the former castle Christiansborg and now parliamentary building with speeches by Henry Saragih, general secretary of La Via Campesina International, Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International and the participants making a Mexican wave to flood the temporary carbon trading exchange which could not resist the pressure from the people.

Climate Justice action at Vor Frues church. Photo: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Other feed in activities contributed also to the mass demonstration. “What do we want? – Climate justice! When do we want it? – Now!”. This was the chanting when World Council of Churches gathered with cooperation partners eported on a Swedish Diakonia activist blog. ”It was a nice feeling of inspiration that was spread in my body when we yesterday met at the Vor Frues Plads, here in Copenhagen, for the big demonstration. People from different countries who all were involved in the Countdown to Copenhagen campaign. Now it was finally time! Placards bearing the campaign slogan “High time for climate justice” in a variety of languages had been printed up. So began the long journey to the Bella Center.” From the Bottom meeting Windows of Hope at Christiania people joined the demonstration later in Christianshavn.

The flood taking centre stage were soon the main demonstration starts. Photos: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Speeches and chanting

Vandana Shiva speaking from the demonstration stage at Christiansborg. Photo: / CC BY-SA 2.0

Hajeet Singh from Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke/ActionAid Asia, India, started by presenting climate witnesses from Samoa, Indonesia, Colombia og India.. The first speaker was Rahul Bose, a Bollywood artist followed by Vandana Shiva who explicitly pointed to capitalism as the source of the current environmental crisis, telling demonstrators: “This is what democracy looks like, and the COP15 is trying to kill democracy.”

Kumi Naidoo from Greenpeace and the tcktcktck campign. Photo: / CC BY-SA 2.0

The chair of the Danish Social Democratic party followed, Helle Thorning-Schmidt and the Danish artist Thure Lindhard and Helena Christensen, a model and photographer. Kumi Naidoo, international general secretary of Greenpeace and chair of the tcktcktck campaign from South Africa made a speech and presented climate witnesses from Uganda, Bangladesh, Tibet and Kiribata. Singing and speaking was also Angelique Kidjo born in Benin in West Africa, ”a Grammy award-winning music recording artist deemed “Africa’s premier diva” by Time Magazine.” according to the official web site information.

People were chanting, singing and dancing. Not many could here the speakers but there was very much other things to do. Hundreds and hundreds of different messages on banners and huge stunts of different sorts ranging from NGO lobbyists to anticapitalists.

Photo: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Say hééé! Say hooo! Say Climate Change has got to go!” characterized the atmosphere among the young greens from all over Europe who met and protested together ”for a fair, ambitious and legally-binding agreement.”

The protest involved mainly youth. Jubilee South and Action Aid called for reparations from the First World to repay their ecological debt and aid sustainable development in the Third World.

Green Left Weekly reported vividly from the ”carnival-like atmosphere”:

”An Australian contingent highlighted the issue of global dependence on fossil fuels for power, chanting “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, quit coal now!”

A satirical contingent of green capitalists raised the issue of greenwashing —dressed tastefully in white, they carried platters of grapes, glasses of champagne and placards reading “Greed is green“, “Bangladesh: buy rubber boots“, “Stop global whining”, “We heart green capitalism” and “We love green, but we love fossil fuels more”.

The lead banner screamed, “Carbon trading: the final solution”. One faux banker urged the crowd to “go home and buy some carbon offsets”.

Protesters chanted: “Carbon trading: big lie.”

Despite the widely acknowledged, clear failure of the COP15 talks, the sentiment among protesters was jubilant, positive and determined. Protesters chanted “Our climate — not your business”, “Our world is not for sale” and “Change the system, not the climate” — in fact, radical politics dominated the crowd, if not the platform.”

Photos: / CC BY-SA 2.0

The start, NTAC and the police provocation

The demonstration was on the move. Tens of thousands followed the indigenous in the front along the stock exchange and across the bridge towards Christianshavn and the South. 41 different blocs were in the demonstration but the decided order was seldom followed. After the indigenous came a banner stating Politicians talk, leaders act with the Greenpeace bloc including both a huge snowman and a globe with a lifebuoy. Then followed the rest of the tcktcktck campaign with and a van for the Socialist People’s party surrounded by blue balloons with the party logo. After a while followed a new van surrounded by lively social democratic youth from Sweden singing Bella ciao socialists sons from Italy. Soon after Lega Ambiente from Italy and others proudly carried the yellow Don’t Nuke the Climate banner. Spread out were peace organizations and supporters of liberation of countries as Tibet or Iran.

Belgian trade unionists. Photo: / CC BY-SA 2.0

Especially popular was the union bloc with a front banner stating Just transition and people all dressed in green including green helmets. Their popularity along the road was raised as they stopped and then started running quickly. After the union came a banner stating Greenwash warning – Stop false solution made by Friends of the Earth Sweden and then a variety of messages including Radical Climate policy – now or never! WWF followed between red flags with the message Vote Earth for a real deal. A van stating system change not climate change and a banner long after stating the same followed with Socialist parties as the red Green Alliance and the New Anticapitalist party NPA from France. Soon after Attac came carrying a banner saying “Don’t let corporate lobbying destroy our climate” together with groups from everywhere including the libertarian socialist bloc. In the end came development organizations as Action Aid and others. Thus the march had started in a bit of chaos but anyway managed move forward to the South.

Meanwhile at Højbro plads, gathering place announced by Never trust a COP, many hundreds or almost thousand was faced by many policemen. The police started to ask if not NTAC wanted to go along with the march that was not far away but in the opposite direction from what was stated in advance.

Many pictures from the 12 December demonstration including Never trust a COP you can find at here 1, 2, 3

When unwillingly moved towards the main demonstration the black dressed people from the NTAC gathering got a bit dispersed. One bigger part came straight into the Action Now bloc consisting of left wing parties as Red Green Alliance, New Anti Capitalist Party from France and other like minded organisations walking in front of the Climate Justice Action bloc. This caused some confrontations including an incident when one person dressed in black was beaten to the ground by someone in the Action Now bloc. The black dressed newcomers were not especially welcome and able to create disorder in the bloc partly separating it. Soon also stones were thrown at windows at the stock exchange. 9 double windows were broken. Soon after passing a bridge one window was also broken on the foreign ministry at the Christianshavn side of the harbour, a police van was hit and things like firecrackers fired in the direction of the police but no reports state that this did any harm. After these incidents the situation calmed down and the police did not intervene here or later against this part of the demonstration.

Socialist libertationist bloc starts walking. Photo: / CC BY-SA 2.0

Another black dressed group that all along had planned to participate in the main demonstration walked far behind at the end of the large joint system change not climate change section starting with the CJA bloc. After CJA followed among others Friends of the Earth with a sizeable delegation, Via Campesina and movements from the South, Attac and a socialist liberationists bloc were some were dressed in black. From somewhere in this last part of the demonstration one bank window was smashed at the central square in Christianshavn.

The mass arrest of the 918

The police kettle at Amagerbrogade from the Northern side. Photo

Half an hour later after passing one more bridge leaving Christianshavn and walking into the Amager district this part of the demonstration was seeing themselves surrounded by heavy police equipment on the Amagerbrogade. The more experienced were able to escape in advance suspicious about the many police vans around. Soon the whole part was stopped very fast by police vehicles that blocked the demonstrators from leaving both from the back and from the front. Only one way was open seemingly without any police in sight. Here a black dressed group started to move quickly soon to be trapped by the police.

Inside the kettle at the beginning. Photo: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Amagerbrogade many people were in quite a good mood as they believed the demonstration only was temporarily stopped by the police as none had seen any immediate reasons for the police to intervene and very few any unruly things happening in their part of the demonstration all along.

At the frontline. People and a public transport activist group from Sweden inside the kettle. Photos: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Soon all the rest also on the main street one by one got handcuffed and put into degrading positions shaping line after line in so called fishbone rows. People who had escaped into shops and restaurants were dragged out and all arrested. Some very few were allowed to leave as TV crews and a few other special cases.

Arrested at Amagerbrogade. Photos: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Outside the police cordon the reactions were different. At the Bella Center for the first time the TV monitors showed constantly for many hours pictures from the outside world from above on the mass arrested hundreds and hundreds of demonstrators sitting in their fishbone positions hours after hours while delegates looked upon the presented situation. On the street the police had cut the demonstration so both parts of the Attac and the socialist liberationist bloc were trapped but also very many demonstrators of all other kinds as some members of Friends of the Earth, young conservationists, people’s high school students, Hare Krishna nuns, well dressed concerned climate protesters in suits belonging to no group, people from all parts of the world etc. What kept the spirit high was the samba orchestra. Let them go! Let them go! Let them go! the chanting sounded across the police vans between the walls while the drumbeat was shaking the bodies and warmed the hearts. The organizational flags most present outside the police lines were from Attac. Quite a group stayed behind to show their solidarity with those inside the police kettle.

The CJA loud speaker van tried to return to the spot of the arrests but were forced by the police to leave and continue with the main demonstration towards Bella Center. The very last end of the demonstration was directed outside the kettle and joined with the main demonstration. The main demonstration in the hands of the Danish organizers did not bother. On the contrary were the only reported appeals against the mass arrests made by the CJA van outside Bella Center.

Candlelights at Bella Center and vomiting and urinating at Amagerbrogade

Instead the demonstrators were welcomed by disc jockeys and a speech by Mary Robinson, who also started the candle light sea as a sign of hope. The crowd was so huge that most could not see the platform or hear the speakers — instead, the demonstration became a candlelit street party.

At the Bella Center. Photo: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Speakers following Robinson were Deepa Gupta, from the lobbyist group inside the Bella Center, Indian Youth Climate Network made her speech before Tom Goldtooth from Indigenous Environmental Network in the US made his contribution. After him followed three Danish parliamentary speakers; Margrete Vestager from the social liberal Radical party, Villy Søvndal, party leader of the Socialist People´s Party and Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, from red Green Alliance. The parliamentarians were followed by João Felicio, from the trade union CUT in Brazil, speaking on behalf of ITUC, Helen Caldicott, anti nuclear power veteran from the US, Ian Terry, Vestas-worker from Isle of Wight, Lidy Nacpil, from Jubilee South and the Asian Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, the Philippines and ending with Nnimmo Bassey, chairman of Friends of the Earth International, from Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Nigeria. Finally a reused sail with climate messages was delivered to the negotiators represented by the head of the UNFCCC secretariat, Yvo de Boer.

At Amagerbrogade. Photo: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Meanwhile the front of the demonstration celebrated its political awareness and peacefulness while sending signals to the politicians inside Bella Center at Amagerbrogade the part of the demonstration left behind in the hands of the police were more and more treated in a degrading manner. ”People fainted, vomited, lay in their own vomit and urinated on themselves when they were refused to go to the bathroom. One guy was unconscious for an hour before he got help. The atmosphere was very unpleasant, and those who stood up because they were unable to sit anymore were brutally suppressed. Victoria and Olof had to stay tied on the icy sidewalk in very uncomfortable positions for more than 4 hours and Olof then transported to jail (as one of the policemen called “Denmark’s Guantanamo”) where he was forced to sit in the intolerable position in several more hours, still without food, water or access to toilets.” – Witness report from Anton Törnberg, Siri Sandin, Viktoria Viklander, Olof Öhrn.

Countless reports made similar statements. In total 918 people were detained. The police had problems transporting the detained into the special prison set up for the occassion at Valby with cages inside a big warehouse. People were thus forced to sit on the cold ground for 4-5 hours.

Also the media was more severely effected then normally. Main stream press and TV reported that unnecessary violence was used when they were taken away from the scene, that policemen consciously blocked the possibility also to cover what happened with tele lenses and that camera equipment was broken by the police or even that journalists were beaten by the police.

Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, head of the Danish Union of Journalists, demanded a meeting with the chief of police, and says in a statement that he’s never seen so much criticism of the police at the same time.

The head of the police operation Per Larsen told the press that he was sorry if some innocent people have been subject to mass arrests, but that a rapid and consistent effort had been necessary. In a press statement the police explains the reason for the mass arrest: “As a background to the decision to detain the violent group of demonstrators was also to be taken into account the great importance of the large popular demonstration to not be disturbed by people with another agenda,” Thus the police claimed that it was unfortunate that some innocent were among those mass arrested as those detained was a violent group that was a threat to the great demonstration, or as Larsen put it on TV, the dignified manifestation in contrast to the violent group that was necessary to detain to maintain order. The situation was open for the organisers of the demonstration to state if they shared this opinion of a mass arrest of almost one thousand demonstrators.

Mobilization outside and inside the prison

At Christiania on a distance from the demonstration route and after the mass arrests took place some confrontations started with the police. One policemen was hit by a cobble stone but it soon became clear that he was not seriously hurt contrary to some first speculations in the media. One Swedish activist was also slightly injured as a two-inch firecracker he was carrying exploded. Four cars were set on fire. 55 people were arrested in these confrontations.

The strongest response on the mass arrests came inside the prison. ”Suddenly we heard from the room next to us, protesters who are locked in cages and shout ’Let us go, let us go’ and ’no justice no peace fuck the police’. Rapidly the morale increased and the chanting really made an echo, when hundreds join in the choir inside the warehouse. We are denied water and the room fills up more and more.”

Outside the prison there were also protests by people following the call of CJA and some Danish youth left wing organizations. 250 demonstrators demanded free the political prisoners and were met by a strong police force that used their sticks only once keeping the demonstration 300 meters away fro the prison. One person was arrested.

Tord Björk

Content 12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Success or failure?

Uncertain preparatory process

The global climate day of action 2009

The main demonstration

Three left wing parties supporting the police perspective

December 12 in the media

Movement analysis

A demonstration split twice

You find extensive more material on the lack of left wing collective response to the repression December 12 – 18 and analysis at: The ALBA mass meeting: Full of lost left wing possibilities.

The lost left wing opportunity

The mass meeting in the Valby hall 17th of December was a lost left wing opportunity to support the climate justice protesters. One can wonder why. In scale it had only two indoor competitors. Al Gore was supposed to speak at an indoor mass meeting organized by Berlingske, the most conservative daily in Denmark since 250 years. 3 000 tickets were sold but refunded as Al Gore chose to not come. The main stream climate campaigners gave walk over to the left. The other competitor was the other mass activity in Valby during COP15, the so called climate prison with the infamous cages were the detained got pepper sprayed by the authorities if they protested to much against their degrading treatment. In total almost 2 000 were detained during COP15, most of them in this Valby temporary prison. According to reports the protest spirit in this prison were at times as high as in the Valby hall, and maybe more lasting.

The ALBA mass meting on December 17 waspart of a dynamic between three other mass activities, see:

The ALBA mass meeting was perfectly timed and placed in relation to the political process of inside and outside activities during COP15 7th to 19th of December 2009. In Copenhagen four mass activities were organised to politically intervene in the climate negotiations and/or build an independent climate justice movement. All four complementing each other both in form and their political direction. The December 12 demonstration built on the idea of a low common denominator and large variety of expressions, even contradictory. A market place for demands mainly to put pressure on governments for a ”real deal” and thus state centric in its dominant appeal. The Klimaforum starting on December 7 with a political unified goal to challenge the ideology and practical proposals followed by the dominant forces inside COP15 more focused system critique and on movement building and diverse local solutions. The Reclaim power mass action on December 16 challenging the official conference directly by attempting at disrupting it during a day of mass civil disobedience. And finally the mass meeting on December 17 with presidents from Venezuela and Bolivia supporting sustainable alternatives to the present model of development promoted by COP15 with a socialist state centric tendency at the bottom.

The mass meeting came the day after protests reached a peak when civil disobedience activists both on the outside and the inside demanded system change not climate change in the Reclaim power action. The mass action could succeed in political practice. Although the action was violently stopped by the police when the two groups were less then 50 meters from each others the protesters got full support from the tribune inside the general assembly of UNFCC by the president of Bolivia and Venezuela. What the mass action failed to do physically against a violent police force it succeeded by building a political alliance across the wall around Bella center.

Thus the presidents of the ALBA countries and those Danish organizations that arranged a mass meeting with them the following day had the best of opportunities to take initiatives for moving the struggle ahead. Morales or Chavez would certainly not stopping the Danish organisers to take such a political intiative. On the contrary they supported the protesters goal of system change as well as protested against the heavy repression. The situation was considerably helped by the facts that for the first time ever the police of a host country of a UN meeting had been violently attacking accredited UN delegates when they wanted to leave the official venue and furthermore that 918 demonstrators had randomly been arrested during a mass demonstration some days earlier in an act of police violence against democratic rights which probably lack any precedence in Europe the last 50 years. People from almost any kind of movement, young conservationists, Hare Krishna, Friends of the Earth and Attac members, Socialists and people’s high school students. For some reason had the Danish organisers not acted collectively defending their demonstrators. Some actually supported the police as the Social Democrats while the spokes person for the organisers made a press statement about disproportionate police behaviour as if these acts of diverging messages to the media was sufficient reaction on the massive degrading and anti democratic treatment of demonstrators.

The political content was already worked out in unity at the Klimaforum in the declaration process ending in the demand System Change – not climate change, something that all actors agreed to from the Climate justice bloc that was attacked in the demonstration on December 12 to the Reclaim power action to the ALBA presidents. The title of the mass meeting in the Valby hall fitted well in – ALBA a solidarity and sustainable alternative. A politically better situation for a system critical movement of movements had not occurred in many years when peasants, environmentalists, indigenous, women, workers, antiimperialists, pacifists and above all young people were building a long term political program for climate justice. The great obstacles had been differences in  tactics and the extreme level of repression.

Formal Danish organisation whether left-wing, environmental, trade unions or others had all with one exception been advocating that the problem were activists and especially activists that wanted to use civil disobedience at the official COP15 venue. This in their eyes would result in immediate violence which had to be avoided at any cost. In Denmark the formal system critical organizations stated in chorus it is impossilble to defend any civil disobedience at a legal assembly as the UN. Thus the Danish activist network that jointly organized the Reclaim power action together with global mass movements as Via Campesina, Jubilee South and People’s Movement on Climate Change was isolated by all formal organisations in Denmark as a threat to mass mobilisation in the form of a broad demonstration together with NGOs and celebrities as speakers.

Many actually accused the Reclaim power action for the new laws and extreme repressive police tactics that emerged in Denmark,. This trend has been going on for many years in Denmark both during the present right wing governments and earlier during the centre-left governments. By challenging this trend towards escalating repression those claiming the need of non-violent actions at Bella Center was accused of causing growing repression and thus also threatening the necessary large scale mobilisation for the broad December 12 demonstration. If only people stayed away from any confrontational actions, maybe did some civil disobedience far away from the politicians, police repression would be so much less was the political thinking behind this attitude. For many people from the third world this kind of Danish thinking was completely impossible to understand as if repression is the result of that some organizes non-violent direct actions and confrontational protest and not the result of social relationships and material conditions in society.

By December 17 there had been all chances to discuss the matter with the movements from the rest of the world willing to take part in the Reclaim power action as they had been in Copenhagen for more than a weak. The Danish system critical organisations whether ecological or left wing had all chances to have a dialogue with their international cooperation partners. After all the Climate Summit was not only a Danish business.

Preparing for anti repression demonstration at Klimaforum December 17. Photo Tord Björk

By December 17 it was also obviously clear to everyone that the Danish formal organizations were wrong. No violence was caused by the activists during the December 16 action at all. The very little bit of violence during COP15 had taken place on Saturday outside the demonstration close to Christiania when a policemen was reported being hit by a stone although no reports claimed any serious harm. Property damage was also not the case during the Reclaim power action and very little on December 12, a dozen windows broken by demonstrators who were forced into the main demonstrations contrary to their plans to go elsewhere. The repression excesses by the Danish state were completely exposed as outrageous to anyone able of doing some political work.

It was with other words a perfect situation to make a collective support for democratic rights against the governmental and right wing xenophobian and climate sceptical Danish People’s party to drastically raise already extreme repression laws and police tactics against protesters. 918 people had been arrested for doing nothing in a normal demonstration and then had the police used many kinds of violence to prevent a joint inside-outside People’s Assembly close to the fences of the Bella center area. If there was any chance to revert this drastic attack on democratic rights in Denmark with great risks for the rest of Europe and the world it was now.

There was certainly a sufficient number of left- wing organizations arranging the mass meeting. They included five local trade unions, four communist parties and the red Green alliance, Friendship organisation with Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and Bolivia as well as some solidarity organizations with Latin America and the world and Artists for Peace.

Many of these organizations of course produced individual statements as did any serious environmental organisation or Amnesty protesting against the mass arrests. But to do something in common was far beyond what the Danish left-wing organizations thought of as necessary. Collective action and mass movement is a common word in the language of these organisation, but when this collective action is needed and the mass movement exist and is under attack the response from these formal left wing organisation is a refusal to do anything about it.

This extremist position to allow the police to freely use the new anti democratic laws which the Trade Union Central in Copenhagen  called police state laws needs an explanation. Why can we not anymore in a common European state trust the left-wing to defend popular movements, let alone their own interests anymore?

The resources were at hand. One of the Communist parties arranging the mass meeting publishes a daily, actually the only daily linked to any left wing party in Denmark. The parliamentary Social democrats, Socialist People’s Party and the Red Green Alliance long ago let their dailies and even weeklies sometimes pass away and lack own strong media to reach out with their message. But Arbejderen, The Worker, exists and reaches out to quite a few as it is the only left-wing daily in the whole country with more than 4 000 subscribers. Furthermore has most of the Communist parties as well as the Red Green Alliance youth groups that are quite a lot involved in the street actions going on and do not lack organizational capacity if needed. There is capacity to mobilize in Copenhagen among the left. Some hours after the police struck against oil war refugees from Iraq and violently started to deport them from the Brorson church in Copenhagen half a year ago 20 000 demonstrated in a fast reaction.

But this time the leftwingers chose to avoid initiating a Danish collective action to protest against the heavy repression in spite of that it would have been very simple to get broad support also from organizations as Friends of the Earth International and about any international organisation present. The only thing needed would actually have been to join the initiative on the way already for a demonstration the next day on December 18. The Valby hall meeting would be an excellent opportunity for Danish organizations to take a lead in mobilizing the Danish people against the degrading treatements and arrests. After all Danish organizations can better mobilize people in Copenhagen and follow up on the necessary anti repression work in this country than international organisations can do.

But the Danish left-wing rather clapped their hands when Chavez and Morales protested against the repression on the streets of Copenhagen than wanted to do something about it themselves with the support of the ALBA presidents.

So why did they chose to stay passive against their own self interest and against the need of the global mass movements that they so much talk about in their newspapers?

There are at least some factors behind this lack of solidarity. One is isolation. The formal left wing in Denmark had chosen to organise their own activities far from any interest in cooperating internationally or as a force inside movement building mass activities as the Klimaforum or Climate Justice Action. Only the cooperation with main stream NGOs who chose celebrities or party leaders as speakers for the demonstration was to them of interest as they could use this lowest common denominator activity to brand their own organization rather than to contribute to building a mass movement.

Thus contrary to e.g. Sweden during European Social Forum did the Cuban friendship association state that they were only interested in making their own activities at Klimaforum and not as the Swedish Cuban association state that they wanted both to make their own activities and contribute to the common work during ESF. In Sweden the Cuban association representatives became a coordinator of the program group and did many other tasks for the common good, in Denmark the main initiator behind the ALBA meeting, which officially was part of the Klimaforum program but placed elsewhere due to lack of sufficiently big hall, was the Danish Cuban Association who chose to isolate itself from any common responsibility for the Klimaforum.

And so did all their left wing cooperation partners that arranged the ALBA meeting. Why do something to enable a mass movement to evolve when one can sit in isolation to clap the hands in hope that people on the other side of the planet shall make the revolution for you or walk in a demonstration branding your organization were the media message is to a large degree controlled by NGO celebrities?

Furthermore the Danish organizers had no links to their international counterparts. The kind of traditional state centric left wing politics which dominates the organisers of the ALBA meeting have its strong counterparts on the international arena in the People’s Movement on Climate Change as well of course in the ALBA countries. PMCC was the most loyal of all international networks towards all mass activities in Copenhagen not imposing it own will but giving strength from the very beginning to common efforts thus uniting the Danish and international partners. While many other international networks had much of their own agenda and only slowly started to be interested in such an initiative as Klimaforum PMCC was there from the very start to the end. They insisted on the need for stating that the economic system have to change and national sovereignty as important but for the rest they at many times in the Klimaforum declaration process could contribute with consensus formulations from their long time work with mass movement cooperation mainly in the South and with migrant communities in the North. When I in October informed them about the ALBA meeting they knew nothing about it although it had been initiated already in the summer and PMCC had been clearly visible at the international CJA preparatory meetings in Copenhagen. But the Danish left wing is primarily internationalist in words and primarily with those in power at state level it seems. Internationalism in practice in the climate justice movement was not what interested the Danish Left wing 2009.

Reclaim power banner during the December 18 anti repression march, Photo

Another reason for the lack of interest in solidarity with the international movement in Copenhagen was that many left wing organisations in Denmark had been strongly advocating against the reclaim power action and instead promoted the December 12 demonstration. Their argument was that it would be impossible for the public to understand why a civil disobedience action took place to establish a People’s Assembly inside the Bella center area. If the mass movements from the South as Via Campesina which most of these left wing organisations strongly claim they support as long as they organise heroic struggles far from Denmark saw such a need, that was not of interest to discuss. Danish organisations are primarily Danish organizations and as such racist. It is useful to use Via Campesina as an exotic example in their propaganda but not as a cooperation partner then maybe something is at risk. The control freak of any Danish organization seems than to become a maniac against even his own interest with the exception of very few individuals or organisations that alone have to carry the burden of the many.

The daily Arbejderen was one of these left wing spaces used by representatives of the Communist party owning the paper to state that the Reclaim power action was bad and the demonstration on the December 12 was the good alternative. The chair of the construction workers union in Denmark who was the only Danish key note speaker at the ALBA mass meeting had the same opinion in a letter published in a few Danish dailies signed also by a fisherman and a peasant, both chairpersons of other social movement organisations. It took a very long time before any system critical formal organisation made their strong opinions against the Reclaim power action public but once they did so it seems as if nothing anymore can change their mind, even when it is clear that they were wrong.

The Danish super model that was selected speaker at the December 12 demonstration was on one main Danish television channel the only political messenger of the 100 000 voices in the demonstration. Between pictures of her catwalking in her model career she stated that there are quarrels in any family and so there is at COP15 but in the end the problems will be solved. The message of how police were beating UN accredited persons on their way to the People´s Assembly December 16 could not be misunderstood, the claims by some or many formal Danish organisations that the activists would become violent was shown to be completely false and the action got full support from Morales and Chavez from the inside. But why bother.

The activists had objected to the wise persons in the formal Danish organisations and thus had both them and all the 918 mass arrested in the December 12 demonstration broken a golden Danish rule, always trust a COP and their definition of what is violence. What the Danish left-wing might do is issuing individual press releases, but more cannot be expected. After all, heavy repression with targeted arrests of almost all spokespersons of a non violent civil disobedience action, is what one deserves if one have gone against the advice of all formal Danish left wing organizations and dared to unite with mass movements from all over the world in front of the nose of the hitherto monopoly actors in Danish radical solidarity work.

The organisers of the ALBA meeting had of course different possibilities of doing something. The organization that seems to have been most positive towards Reclaim power was a communist party still looking upon Stalin as an important ideologue.  Their capacity to mobilize many was limited both in terms of Danish support and any links to central international climate justice organizations. The Red Green Alliance had the opposite position and actually excellent possibilities both in Denmark and the rest of the world. They had the chance as a modern radical left-wing party and one of the few that at least for a while even had a proper agricultural programme strongly present in Summit protests since Amsterdam 1997 and in the global justice movement. They also played a central role in organizing of the December 12 demonstration, or at least one of their International Socialist members. On photos from the preparations for the ALBA meeting one can see Thomas Eisler from Red Green Alliance, member of the national board of the party and active in the Fourth international as well as European Social Forum last year.

Especially interesting it is that in 2002 the Red Green Alliance did a very good anti repression work from the early start of the preparations ot the EU Summit protests in December that year. Together with representatives from the Socialist People´s Party they acted as parliamentary shields when activists crossed the borders and at street actions constantly using the parliament as a tribune for the movement. The autonom or what also can be labelled libertarian leftist movement coming from the house occupation and anti fascists action networks used the opportunity for organizing a non-violent civil disobedience action at the Bella center. People dressed up in protective gear with some 700 supporters were able to push themselves into the Bella center area a little bit, a political statement was made and the political action dissolved without any escalation of violence. Thus the statements by formal Danish organizations that such a kind of non-violent action at a legislative assembly was impossible in Denmark without escalating into violence was false. It had been done before with a similar right wing government. and that time without governmental spokes persons inside welcoming the content and the form of the protest and full support from some global mass movements more than fully possible.

But not to the Danish formal left. It was not so that key organization did not know of the good experience from 2002. On the contrary. The organisation that arranged the action in 2002, Global Roots or Globale Rødder do not exist anymore. But many of the organisers of the action in 2002 are still politically very active. Quite a few are now employed at the parliamentary office of Red Green Alliance. Palle Dragsted, earlier international secretary of the party, now media secretary is one of them.

So how come than that the Red Green Alliance did not use the great opportunity to initiate broad protests together with many other Danish organizations and international networks on December 18 to free the climate prisoners and protest against mass arrests? The structural reason is simple. Since 2002 the party have drastically changed. Not on the surface but in the core of its way to act politically. In 2002 the party put a lot of energy including staff into be part of movement mobilisation. Now the same resources are instead put into media communication. Movements are interesting if they can deliver sound bites that the party can use occasionally in the parliament or in their press releases. It is not any longer of interest to be loyal to a movement and part of their daily struggle. Thus Red Green Alliance spokes persons can talk about in the media that it would be better if the police used the dialogue tactic which successfully was used to avoid escalation of repression in 2002, not to be self critical about the change of the way the party itself relates to movements in risk of getting repressed.

One of the actors in this change of the political culture of the Red Green Alliance are the organisers of the autonom non-violent action in 2002. Once they themselves were able to achieve a professional career in the party they seem to gladly abandon the solidarity character of the party that once helped them when they were movement activists and instead making the party more integrated to professional media and parliamentary arenas.

They are still able to mobilise. Many of the old global roots people have been behind the massive mobilisation against the deportation of the Iraqi refugees defending church asylum. But doing action during COP15 the old global roots activists saw as not useful as there were to many policemen to challenge. Rather contribute to such actions as Shut it down against the coal power plant in Copenhagen in September last year or actions after COP15 but not during was their mantra among them. They were quite a few, often male, half cynical, and always well informed about the latest thing to know for a radical belonging to a common culture in many different left wing organisations in Denmark. Interestingly this seems to include avoiding mobilisation against repression.

Thus what we see in Denmark is that all strands of the formally organised left wing are equally passive when it comes to strengthen the climate justice movement and the general struggle to protect democratic rights for everyone with the exception of individual activists in Klimax and Climate Collective and to some degree left wing youth organisations. Some of these youth organizations linked to political parties were as one could expect part of organising ad hoc protest at the Valby climate prison on December 12. But these left wing youth organisations were not organisers of the Valby hall mass meeting and seems in general be regarded by their parent parties as marginal youth phenomena not to be taken much seriously.

The different communist parties are mainly competing with each other. The trade unions whether social democratic or not are stretched between a perceived importance of good relationships with the government and the daily struggle against the further brutalisation of working conditions. They experience how their pickets against privatization of services are broken by the police with false promises of releasing an arrested picket leader. They criticized the hooligan law package as an attempt to repress all popular movements and non-violent actions, whether pickets, strikes or environmental protests and stated that they were expressions of a police state mentality. All social democratic and other trade unions in Copenhagen protested but the Social democrats seemed not impressed who supported the mass arrest of more than 900 innocent people to not talk about the government.

The Socialist People’s Party spokes person also supported the police and only after many protested withdraw the support somewhat for the police. The Red Green alliance with its two minority trotskyist fractions and a main stream that do not know what to do is at the moment not much of a party, more of a branding operation to support differing professional careers with the help of much volunteer work but little coherent strategy.

The autonom left is interestingly also very central in the lack of the support  against repression of the climate justice movement. The same kind of Danish mechanism that we saw in the case of the Communist party owning the daily Arbejderen and the construction workers union seems to be working also here although the arguments against direct action at Bella center are the opposite. We do not support the actions so we refuse also to protest against repression of the actions. The autonom left did to a great part avoid supporting action during COP15 due to an analysis based on the pragmatic idea that the police force was to strong to be able to win any substantial victory. As isolated in its Danish box as the rest of the left in Denmark to establish a discussion in solidarity with movements coming from abroad was uninteresting. To win a struggle in action was mainly seen in physical terms and numbers of participants, not political terms and ability to create new political horizons and alliances. Thus in their international contacts with their allies in other countries they put forward their scepticism including sharp criticism on how weakly CJA actions were prepared. Something they, with their sometimes longer experience, could have positively improved but chose not to. It was more interesting to be a clever observer than to intervene side by side with people from other countries coming and taking the risks these Danish autonom did not want to take. And as they did not support the actions they as many other Danish left wingers tend to avoid the immediate necessary strong anti repression response needed in December during COP15.

The result of the lack of leftwing support for mass mobilisation against repression of COP15 protests can be seen in such things as that Greenpeace activists in prison after a Gala dinner action get a very high degree of support and attention while the rest of the climate protesters get support to quite a large extent in falling degree due to if they have organisational backing or not. The massive mobilisation to support all repressed climate activists have lacked were it is needed most, in Denmark thanks to the lack of formal organisations supporting such a mass mobilisation.


The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

Open letter on Denmark’s freedom and legal situation

We must discuss the mass arrests, the police new judiciary and the exaggerated reactions to peaceful, non violent civil disobedience in our capital

Dear all

We need to have a thorough conversation in our society about the way Denmark changed in December.
• Huge popular climate demonstrations were – at a very few exceptions – very peaceful, but nevertheless resulted in 2,000 arrests or detentions. This has never happened before.
• The distinction between violent and nonviolent civil disobedience effectively disappeared when the police and courts responded with the greatest violence against the non-violent actions.
• The gap between the judicial and executive power faded from sight, and the distinction between guilty and innocent blurry as police condemned many innocent temporary imprisonment.

Copenhagen was the center of world attention, but there was not much ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’ about it when there were blue lights flashing in the city. On top of a chaotic and unsuccessful climate summit comes the concern about the unique Danish forms of law enforcement.

And on top of that comes even more democratic sadness that everything that happened, was backed 100 percent. up by the government and much of the opposition.

If we consciously forget what happened, and without discussion goes into 2010 with the same laws, authorizations and attitudes, we say yes to that the most authoritarian form of authority will have even more power next time it becomes crucial.

Peaceful demonstrators

The demonstration on 12 December was a fantastic experience. 100,000 people from around the globe participated in a moving public celebration, which sent a strong signal of seriousness and impatience. It was a demonstration of all colors and ages. It was marred only by members of the ‘black block’, who behaved, in particular with throwing cobblestones in Christianshavn. One policeman was wounded, and I know from demonstrators – including a group of college students – that they were glad when the police intervened. But the scale and form, with hundreds of people handcuffed put to ground in train position on a freezing Amagerbrogade was indecent. One could have sorted the innocent out, one could have made a focused action. We could – because too many were arrested – have apologized and corrected. But no.

It is well documented in articles in Politiken and that part of the ‘black bloc’ was sent into the rally by police. These activists were on their way elsewhere in the city, but was stopped by police and was told that the only demonstration opportunity was the big demonstration. They were not a part of the popular demonstration, which was as popular as announced.

I was the spokesman for 12th December-rally, and I was asked countless times about the risk of violence. We distinguished clearly between groups like Never Trust a Cop (NTAC), which announced violence, which we denounced, and the Climate Justice Action, which openly put forward that the other day they would commit nonviolent civil disobedience, but was loyal participants in the 12th December-demonstration. We felt that if there ever came turmoil, it was in the city, while others went to Amager. It was what NTAC announced, but what the police wanted to hinder. Instead, some of the violent were sent after the peaceful demonstration. It was unfortunate because it made people scared because it led to the arrest of innocent people and because it could have made the demonstration to beak apart and into panic.

There was good cooperation with the police prior to the 12th December. There was coordination and which made sense. But an evaluation includes determination recognizing where it went wrong. And it went wrong, both because when the violent were sent into the demonstrations, when one arrested peaceful demonstrators in bunches, and when one treated them in violation of decency and common sense. This first of the great days were 968 people arrested. Almost none were sighted. The vast majority were given only to the ruling given by the police without court involvement. First sentenced to chill handcuffed train positions, then climate cages, and some to pepper-spraying.

Stood the test of time

The next major action was the Climate Justice Action’s action. It was to bring critical demonstrators with critical delegates together at the Bella Center area. CJA had put everything openly forward. It was civil disobedience, but peaceful and non-violent. Personally, I was however very worried that protesters would drop peaceful unity when police arrested a day before one of the leaders, a known moderate German CJA activist. It was contrary to common sense and the advice that the police had received as part of the dialogue with them. It became even worse when one arrested two young Danish CJA responsible leaders. It was e.g. Stine Gry, which was part of 12.dec. planning and who had collaborated and informed fully open. She was rewarded with phone tapping and imprisonment.

Responsible leaders will ensure that civil disobedience does not lead to violence. They ensure that the goal is not destroyed by the fact that activists are angry and frustrated and goes berserk. But despite the arrests, it succeeded. The only violence we saw in the media were police swinging their sticks. The protesters were disciplined. Although hte leadership was sent to jail, they kept themselves to the adopted virtually entirely peaceful program.

The concept of democratic, non-violent civil disobedience has stood the test of Gandhi’s India to the U.S. civil rights movement and today’s Iran, and it also kept here. But despite police efforts. There were again plenty of detainees and a handful sighted.

Now the frustrations were so large that there was nocturnal unrest in Copenhagen, but despite the provocation, the city was still more peaceful than in many other periods Copenhagen has experienced.

Greenpeace happening

Next activist event with great media attention was the Queen’s dinner, with Greenpeace’s happening where dressed up activists came into the royal chambers and dropping their banners. Police management was so embarrassed by its own failure, that police lawyers were sent to overtime to find the greatest number of articles, you could swipe these peaceful activists for.

Where courts have been allowed to interfere, they would have been more reluctant than the police. Very few were sitting in prison during Christmas But typically, most long-term prisoners, were those who had participated in peaceful and non-violent actions and happenings.

Think about what signal it sends in the activist environment. ‘You should not think that it gives a discount to participate in non-violent political action, with a positive purpose. We punish as many as much as possible. Violence or nonviolence. ”

How to use a package

Police Chief Inspector Per Larsen was almost too happy. Police action had gone by the book. The so-called lømmelpakke with expanded opportunities for preventive detention was used only once.

But packages can be used in several ways. Police have never before been able to act from an overall confidence that the government gave full support to whatever the police might find out. Brian Mikkelsen, cheering on the sidelines and talked about a Denmark that is so incredibly generous that there is no prohibition on the complaint. (It’s just been inconceivable that one can get rejected).

“Do what ye will,” said government police. Or maybe he said ‘Do what we want! ”

What was all in all the violence? A few paving stones, some fireworks. (None of the bombs Brian Mikkelsen was talking about). Some nocturnal burning of cars. It was far less than we have experienced on several occasions.

Hundreds of activists worked hard for months to organize peaceful demonstrations, and they lived up to their responsibilities. One hundred thousands of peaceful participants testified that they take climate threat seriously and want responsible action. Actions testified in no way a brutalisation of society.

The answer from the state which should have welcomed the popular support, was authoritarian and restraint. If this does not lead to a thorough and self critical discussion, it will be worse next time.
Knud Vilby is a journalist and spokesperson for the 12th December-rally

First published in Information 6h of January 2010

Note: Brian Mikkelsen is Minister of Justice

The open letter is translated with the help of googl and some corrections into English by Tord Björk. You find the original Danish version at:

Other material: on this issue:

12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

The COP15 promising ALBA mass meeting

The lost left wing opportunity

How the left supported the police against demonstrators in Copenhagen

Day by day reactions on repression December 12 to 18:

Saturday 12th of December – Come safely to peaceful demonstration

The left wing cover up

Sunday 13th of December – ”we were violently opposed”

Monday 14th of December – ”unfortunately too many arrests”

Tuesday 15th of December ”It does not belong in a democracy”

Wednesday 16th of December – “No soft feelings”

Thursday 17th of December – ”Eat breakfast with Morales”

Friday 18th of December – International networks demonstrate against Danish repression

Danish self-criticism

Why is the left promoting police perspectives?

Danish political claustrophobia

The way the Danish left assess Copenhagen

The paternalistic Red Green Alliance

Trotskyist climate heroes without guts

Non-parliamentary left: A Waterloo for activists, not a new Seattle

From anti neoliberal left to authoritarian state-media governance left

Other material:

The whole world on trial

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

The invisible wall in our minds was going to fall. The wall between between the unprivileged and privileged humans must fall. Together with the wall between humankind and the larger living world they all fell on the 16th of December 2009. The wall of beautiful power, the Bella wall, came crumbling down when the people decided to lead towards a People’s Assembly at the Bella center of the World. The leaders of networks and organizations had to follow. Heads of states and the so called world leaders have to follow. Climate Justice is the cause. System change – not climate change the idea of how to achieve the goal. The People’s Assembly the goal and the starting point to tear down the wall between people and power liberating in one act both people inside and outside the parliamentary assemblies reuniting our bodies with our heads, and people with nature.

Reaching Tårnby square from the back it seemed already full of police attempting at arresting everybody. Photos by Tord Björk Creative Commons in this post unless otherwise stated.

We  started at Tårnby railway station in cold windy winter weather. I had locals guiding me on bike so we easily could move quick wherever we wanted strolling along the Bella center fences before we finally reached the place where the blue block were suppose to gather.

FoE Sweden activist in the midst of the wind and the crowd at Tårnby square

Classical finger tactics were supposed to be used. The idea behind this is to allow for some diversity of tactics so people can choose what degree of confrontation they like to be part of. As the whole Reclaim power action had agreed to strict non-violence code of conduct including not responding to violence from the police the room for diversity of tactics was quite small. As the Danish police had shown that it was prepared to use the new laws against peaceful non-violent protests arbitrary far beyond what can be sustained if the state wants to maintain order and democracy in the long run it was quite clear that the whole Reclaim power mass action could end in complete failure.

Map of Southern and Central Copenhagen with Tårnby at the exclamation on a red triangle at the bottom. The blue bloc was supposed to march via the yellow road to the North and then take a bend to the left to end at the gate of the Bella center, here marked as a volcano. Here people from the inside together with people pushing from the outside should create a space for a People’s Assembly for climate justice. After the Assembly a march could go back to the inner city on the West side of the Amager Fælled, the Amager Commons. Örestad, the gathering point for the green bloc is situated at the railway and motorway straight South of Bella Center.

The Blue block had applied and received a permit to march towards the Bella Center from Tårnby square, the green bloc were suppose to converge at Örestad railway station and then find their way to the same goal. Smaller affinity groups would find their own way. Our goal was to organize a People’s Assembly by somehow get into the Bella center area or at least after pushing as much as possible make the assembly at the fence together with people coming from the inside walking out.

Peasants from all over the world organized in La Via Campesina

The political core of the action was global mass movements with many representatives from the third world. In the last call-out for the Reclaim Power action it is stated: “The assembly will give a voice to those who are not being heard, it will be an opportunity to change the agenda, to discuss the real solutions, to send a clear message to the world calling for climate justice.”

People gathering at Tårnby under Jubilee South and Via Campesina flags

Originally there had been a bigger emphasis on voices from the third world. In the minutes from the Climate Justice Action meeting in June 2009 were the Reclaim Power action was decided it is stated about December 16: “On this day, the regular summit programme would be impossible. It would be the hour of the movements from below, who would speak for themselves and  decide the agenda. In particular, the voices of those affected by climate change from the Global South would have a forum.”

A very young disciplined Latin European bloc at the end ready to march at Tårnby in as good mood as everyone else.

The change from focus on being supporters particularly for voices from the South to only speak in general terms of all voices who have not been heard was a good move. Unprivileged people are everywhere and certainly among the many young activists that formed the back bone of the Reclaim Power action. The representatives from third world countries made the action strongly legitimate being able to manifest the interest of billions of people all over the world.

The mood was very good. The cause was rightful. The participants well prepared and willing to interact with whoever turned up. Everywhere there was a smile to find, a laughter to get, people willing to make humor married to politics so even the police could not resist from getting influenced.

To annoy us lobbyists for profitable climate solutions entered the scene making propaganda for the only realistic solutions.

Obviously they had a nice time in elegant white clothes, cocktails glasses in their hands, grapes to eat and posters like messages in a silent movie presenting the solutions to the world, Africa stop whining! Bangladesh buy rubber boots! or more to the point: STOP GLOBAL WHINING! But global wine drinking for all the rich is of course not to be stopped, on the contrary it is to be supported as we all know that when some get rich also some drops of wealth also will also drop on the impoverished, oh I am sorry, the poor. There is no end to the creativity of the rich and powerful entrepreneurs. They can at the same time both make all inventions necessary and write all soundbites necessary that makes the mass media happy. The act was so convincing from the beginning that some demonstrators thought it was for real.

But there is plenty of room for creativity also for everybody else in the march. Many cannot hold on to themselves and start singing. Especially British activists get more and more spirited with the help of an excellent vocalist giving us all the tune.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE – PEOPLE GOT THE POWER! The song and slogans gets us all in a better and better mood waiting for starting to move.

It is as all climate camp activists are with us from all over the world. Nothing can stop us now!

Are we ready to march? Yes we are ready to march! For Justice to fishermen (the blue banner), peasants (green Via Campesina flags), workers and everyone. For real solutions to the climate crisis and not false solutions like Nuclear power or a global market for carbon trading promoting land grabbing at the expense of sustainable food production by family farmers.

And of we go! Time to move towards the Bella center. According to Indymedia we were 500 at the Tårnby square. To me it looked as we were somewhat more.

The Reclaim Power March to the Bella Center

Along the road there were street lamps possible to climb. Well your feet will hurt a bit but you get another view. Using my bike I could go ahead and get a view from above. What will follow is an impression of the whole blue block on the way to Bella Center.

The march is surrounded by police walking, to the left also a whole row of police vans. Everywhere also police in plain clothes. Quite often easy to identify from there sturdy shoes, all the same, their branded black block look alike clothes and their standard Palestine scarfs. For a more systematic report on undercover police operations and surveillance at COP15, see:

No one is illegal anti racists and precarious united banners in the march. No borders actions to address the issue of climate and any refugees received attention on the 14th of December action.

The demo van in the end of the blue bloc

The police with the full support of the government have been attacking the Reclaim power action by many different means. Mass lodging had been raided at several occasions starting more than a week in advance. CJA spoke persons of any kind have had up to six civilian police following them from the foot step their home to were they were going. More than 900 people were mass arrested, hand cuffed and abused with degrading treatment sitting on the street for hours with many forced to pee in their pants resulting in finally three people getting accused for something. Most were put in cages in a special “climate prison” were the unbroken spirit of the demonstrators made the police attacking the imprisoned with pepper spray to maintain total control. A massive police action against innocent protesters with the full support not only from the right-wing government but also in practice by the social democrats and socialist people’s party stating that their opposition to the new laws making this possible was not necessarily on principle and once they were used arbitrarily leading politicians from both parties showed a strong defense of the police as their primary task. It could not be stated more clearly, the police can do whatever they want and the organized Denmark will support them.

Our climate is not your business banner ready to continue the march. This message was one of the messages among protesters in Copenhagen that received attention by a whole day of action on the 11th of December heavily repressed by the police.

Apart from arbitrary mass arrests and degrading treatment to scare people from participating targeted actions against anyone that appeared to be coordinator of the action was also used as a means to further create disorder. This tactic to destroy the leadership of a movement was once used centuries ago before democratic development paved the way for the understanding that arresting the leaders for things they had not done but what was perceived as that the movement might do was an old fashion contra-productive way of handling social unrest and needed to be modernized. Thus it became committed acts of violence or explicit support of violent acts that was criminalized and not general support of revolution or leadership of a movement were someone might do something criminal that became the rule.

But not so in Denmark 2009. Here Tadzio Müller on the eve of the Reclaim Power action was arrested on no grounds what so ever. This was an arrest on fake grounds and he will not be sentenced in any normally working European court of justice. The Reclaim power action have been non-violent in its code of conduct from the very beginning and so has Tadzio Müller presented it. The arrest was once more a way to show that the Danish state with almost full parliamentary support was willing to do anything to intimidate, criminalize and oppress a regularly non-violent civil disobedience action and even normal demonstrations. The organized Denmark acted almost in unison as if thousands of participants in the Systems Change not Climate Change bloc in the December 12 demonstration and the Reclaim Power action were part of militaristically planned operations in need to be met by similar militaristic means while still maintaining a democratic face to the world. Targeted and mass arrests to scare people but still  letting those who did not want to adjust their moral to the rules of the Danish state and were willing to take risks to save the planet march under constant insecurity.

Especially risky for the Danish state was the presence of people from the third world in the march. As Denmark in the official negotiations have systematically avoided to listen to the impoverished nations and instead used its privileged power to make UN a power game for the rich and powerful it would be utterly dangerous to also on the streets attack the interest of the global majority. Thus were people from the third world released immediately after they were identified during the mass arrest at the demonstration 12th of December. At least this was the case of all third world people in a delegation were 40 people were for a longer time arrested with the exception of those from Lebanon and Corea. It may well be so that what safe guarded the Reclaim Power action were the participants from mass movements in the South. And as the march was allowed the van with loudspeakers was also a symbol of acceptance of democratic rights.

But for the rest the police constantly attacked everything else that could be seen as possible coordination following the militaristic logic which the government had approved. Nicolas Haeringer, one more of CJA spokes persons was suddenly attacked when marching by civilians not presenting themselves turning out to be policemen.

Small groups of well equipped and coordinated policemen could attack and take out whatever they wanted from the demonstration. Here above you can see them in happy mood after violently beating Nicolas to the ground and then arresting him as their successful goal was attained.

Meanwhile the green bloc was also arrested at the Örestad meeting point en masse.

Some were able to escape and made it to the Reclaim Power action at the Bella center.

Meanwhile the blue bloc had to make it and establish a People’s Assembly. Contrary to the militaristic thinking of the police the Reclaim power action functions differently. All the way to the Bella center we are chanting, what do we want – climate justice, how do we act – non-violence. The van in the back of the march repeats the messages and we follow suit. For the first time in many decades I also here from the van and people responding, we are disciplined, we are non-violent the whole code of conduct of non-violence against the police is not only soemthing written on a piece of paper, it is embedded in our bodies while we walk and talk, or rather dancing and singing our way to the Bella center.

May I take a photo and put it on my blog? Yes of course! An activist from the Italian large environmental movement Lega Ambiente is happily with many of here friends carrying a No nuke banner in the Reclaim power action to make her and their statement at Bella center.

The first time I encountered this profound way of collective discipline, joyful and knowledgeable cooperation in a mass of politically motivated people were at Järntorget in Gothenburg 2001. 800 riot policemen surrounded 500 people who were protesting at the violent behaviour of the police during three days at an EU-Summit. After many proactive mass arrests and violent attacks at demonstrations triggering riots the police shot one demonstrator whose life at the time of the protest still was in danger. Now when the EU Summit was over the police could use its full force and so it did. With the riot shields were the demonstrators pushed into a small spot and completely surrounded. The mass arrest of everyone was supposed to begin, at least for six hours detention in a special EU prison set up for the Summit with cages.

But it took time to implement the arrests. Policemen dressed up as black bloc went around outside the police cordon and tried to identify people and then the police tried to ran into the mass and grab someone. This was not popular and people stuck to each other. The proposal to leave voluntarily making it easier for the police to arrest the rest was met with the same stubbornness, here it was the time to stick together. Thus slowly  the police were able to bring out people one by one now stating that everyone still there should be arrested.

Meanwhile the chanting of slogans, singing and political teachings started. As the mass was big the way to repeat what was said was used, the same method that now was used in the reclaim power  march. The right to protest was underlined. All the songs one could think of from the International to We shall overcome and most popular Swedish children songs was sung with enthusiasm making people in a good mood. My task was to be a negotiator. Peeing was a problem. Soon some handful needed to pee so I went to the police. After a while it was possible to get contact with one of them. It was obvious that it was a problem none had thought of and that the police wanted to take a solution into consideration. He asked how many it was and I turned around asking how many needed to pee, hans up! Almost the whole square raised their hands and seemed to need to immediately go to the toilet. I could not but laugh and so we all did, the protesters and the police. The solution was than that people went to the side of the square at the building and made what they needed to in the open air.

While the police as gently as possible arrested people one by one the mass meeting continued in a better and better mood. As the demonstrations had demanded that the public sector and nature should not be commodified protection of public service was one of the political themes discussed. We came to the conclusion that there has to be better wages for the employed in the public sector, and soon the logics of the argument ened in the demand Better wages for the police! By now the barriers between the police and the demonstrators after many hours together started to brake down. Policemen were seen giving their bananas to the encircled mass of protesters. Finally after almost five hours the police in charge sent a message to the central command stating that he could see no law paragraph that allowed him to continue forcing people from leaving. If there were no answer in three minutes he would give order to the riot police to go away. There were no answer and so he left with 800 hundred policemen and two hundred or more protesters had a party.

Now the feeling was the same of commitment, humor and communication with everyone willing to listen. The predominantly very young activists were walking and talking, chanting and singing their way to Bella center. The van filled in and addressed the police, we know it, the chant went, but we seldom say it, you sexy, you sexy beneath that uniform, the message was clear to take of the uniform.

To get the march working there are lots of functions necessary. The music made by the drums gives energy to everybody and a meaningful task to many using the sticks in a rythm we all like. The clowns are a constant reminder of another world walking behind, in front or anywhere repeating the body language of the policemen until not even the police can resist and must smile or even laugh. The animals are many. Any kind of animal, polar bears, leopards, elephants, you name it. In general quite a few demonstrators hare small wonders of joyful dramatic acts. Top hats, rainbow caps, Inka caps, anything on top of your head. And banners of any kind and any color.

Another important function are the medics team and the legal team. The medics you can spot by their black cross with appropriate backpack. Alternative media is everywhere so the message does not get distorted, corporate media as media often is labeled among activists are also well represented. The large amount of media can one also suspect means that there are many policemen using media as a disguise for registering participants. After corporate mass media makes it a scandal that one of the plain clothes policemen had been wearing a DR jacket only to be used by the Danish public service TV. This recieves in main strem medie almost as much attention as the coverage of the whole Reclaim power action. But of course also many of the more anonymous media attention could have been policemen at work.

Communication is another function of importance, a function that the police on purpose tried to destroy as much as possible by arresting targeted person in advance and during the march to make as much harm as possible to the action as well as the capability to give messages to the press. The attempt works according to a militaristic principle to constantly separate the enemy scaring the supposed rank and file participant from doing any confrontational act and diminishing the capacity of the leadership to communicate at all accept for the van were communication can be heard of everyone and is necessary to maintain an image of still existing democratic rights.

Communication is still a task necessary for a march to be able to have some knowledge what the rest of the action is doing and in this case also what is going on inside the Bella center. When it comes to mass civil disobedience the mistake by the police is to believe that this is lead by someone and when the leadership disappears than the civil disobedience disappears as well. The kind of horizontal mass education and unification by means of consensus decisions before and chanting during the protest makes it very hard to penetrate and weakening an action by taking away the leadership, only brutal force is fit for that and this is maybe also the idea behind much of the police tactics supported by the politicians in Denmark. Non-violent protests should be treated as if it actually is directly violent and those stating themselves willing to use non-violence should know that they will be treated as if they are inherently violent and can be beaten and criminalized for whatever they think of doing if they oppose the government and its laws.

One of the groups strongly present at all actions and demonstrations in Copenhagen were Robin Wood from Germany. This organizations regularly carries out civil disobedience in the protection of rain forests or the climate. They had their share of people getting hand cuffed and arrested in Copenhagen as one can see on their well illustrated blog with reports from the very start of COP15 to the end. Here they are making their statement: Shopping center vegetables = Climate killers. because of this: Luxury for everyone – bio (ecological food) for all!

And here they are in the Reclaim power march approaching Bella Center stating leave it in the ground! No more new open pit mining. More pictures and reports in German you find at their blog:

To totally wipe out the possibility for non-violent civil disobedience would mean to say goodbye to anything but secret violent resistance and goodbye to more than a hundred year of establishing democracy with civil disobedience as a main tool. Thus it was necessary to allow the Reclaim power march under the threat of immediate arrest of everyone with the most random excuse. But the capacity to communicate should be wiped out by arrests on fake grounds.

System change not climate change banner from the not so well funded network Climate Justice now with Bella Center visible to us all at the horizon.

But similar to the capacity for mass civil disobedience the capacity is there for filling the ranks of special functions. In general the kind of flat organizational structure which is characteristic for both networks organizing the action, Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now means there is very few involved in any central coordination. Normally this would mean that by taking some people out the whole coordinating capacity would be paralyzed. But what happens instead is that new coordination functions are established on the spot. I have seen it working in Geneva once at an international anti WTO demonstration. All the locals had left us alone to take part in another demonstration organized by Swiss organizations and there we were without knowing where to go or what to do. Somehow order in the demonstration had to be established by stopping one person from doing unnecessary things while others made us find the way. The problem is of course that by drastically taking away leadership as the Danish police systematically did more disorder can follow rather than their possible aim to maintain order.

Stop consumer terror banner very few steps from the main Bella center entrance.

It can of course result in a split among the participants causing some to make more confrontative action while others gets passive, which might be seen as the exact strategy of the Danish government. When they argued that the new law package was directed against violence when in fact according to the Danish ministry of justice it was only directed against acts of non-violent behavior the government showed the way. Create total confusion to enable a situation were any act of non-violent civil disobedience immediately is regarded as violent and thus give the police free hands to use military tactics to create constant split among protesters. What was the final purpose of this governmental strategy? To stop any social unrest in Denmark from becoming better organized also in the future as all the trade unions in Copenhagen have stated. The new law package is directed against us, against picketing, strikes or any kind of civil disobedience that have brought us democracy. The trade unions accused the government for wanting to establish a police state. Should they succeed?

Automatic metro public transport passing above the demonstrators, a means of transport many climate justice movements asks for besides bicycles.

The other strategy might have been to avoid by all means that Denmark could be seen as having the same strategy on the streets as inside the negotiations to silence all unwanted voices. To make it appear as the only voices inside that really opposed the deal that rich countries including the merging powers in the South were about to make were very small and marginal has been crucial to the strategy of Denmark. I made a mistake in my pre-assessment of repression during the summit that Denmark would avoid repression of UN delegates walking out of Bella center. Such a repression would be a great obstacle for the future of the UN. At stake was a long tradition of the image of Nordic countries supporting the voices of impoverished countries and protecting the environment in the self interest of maintaining the UN as a legal way to strengthen small nations in world politics. But maybe the Danish agenda was different. Maybe it was to maintain a media image of being democratic by allowing protests under constant repression presented as the only way to avoid violence on the street while at the same time repressing the impoverished nations inside and de facto establish a new world order without any UN there to protect the rights of every nation. In such a case a People’s Assembly would be an extreme threat to the wishes of Denmark to completely handicap the UN and the impoverished countries. The media image of isolated marginal and obstructive countries would be impossible to effectively be maintained when people from the inside were going to meet people from the outside representing mass movements from all over the world. Whatever the Danish arguments were against a People’s assembly- should they succeed stopping it, one way or another?

No nuke protesters arriving at the spot where the attempts for pushing for climate justice and establishing a People´s Assembly soon will be made. The anti nuclear activists supported by more than 800 organizations also made strong actions throughout COP15 demanding that nuclear power should not be included in any climate agreement.

These were questions to ask on our way to Bella Center. But we also had to get there by knowing wich direction to go. The march was saved by the police when it came to the crossing were it was supposed to bend to the left without knowing what to do. But soon communication was established between the front and the van as well as with the walk out action inside the Bella Center. We were approaching the main gates were we at 12 should start the Peoples Assembly by pushing from the outside and meeting those coming from the inside.

Reclaim power and push for climate justice from the inside

Inside Bella center Reclaim power action. Photo with restricted copyright,

The participation from the inside became massive. With banners stating Reclaim power and chanting a hundreds of people with many of the leaders of the global movements participating started the walk out. The indigenous in the front as during the mass demonstration on December 12. It was the same inside as outside with lively chants keeping the collective together while the blue block advanced towards the main gates (From Democracy Now report):

The chant began with Josh Kahn Russell making the announcement.

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: When I say “climate,” you say “justice”! Climate!

    PROTESTERS: Justice!


    PROTESTERS: Justice!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: When I say “reclaim,” you say “power”! Reclaim!

    PROTESTERS: Power!


    PROTESTERS: Power!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: When I say “take back,” you say “the talks”! Take back!

    PROTESTERS: The talks!


    PROTESTERS: The talks!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: When I say “climate,” you say “justice”! Climate!

    PROTESTERS: Justice!


    PROTESTERS: Justice! Reclaim power! Reclaim power! Reclaim power! Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Take back the talks! Take back the talks! Climate justice now! Bolivia! Bolivia!

    TOM GOLDTOOTH: We’re here to support our brother. We’re here to support our brother Evo Morales, who is coming today. He has given us direction, that these negotiators need to make a commitment. We need to save Mother Earth by having strong binding agreements. They are demanding 49 percent reduction targets—49 percent reduction targets by 2020, not a sellout position like United States, who’s coming here saying they’re entertaining four percent reduction levels. That’s an outrage. They are here to demand that the Annex I countries pay up, pay up their ecological debt. So this is a support of Bolivia.

    PROTESTERS: Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Take back the talks! Take back the talks!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: So what’s going right now is that we’ve had a group of people from civil society inside the talks who have come outside the talks to have a People’s Assembly to put a new agenda for the talks, to reset the dirty, false solutions that are being discussed in there, to put real solutions for communities.

    PROTESTERS: We are peaceful! What are you?

Photo with restricted copyright,

Here the insider protesters with Tom Goldtoth from Indigenous Environmental network behind the drummer and Ricardo Navarro to the right from Friends of the Earth El Salvador (with a badge from another organization).

Photo with restricted copyright,

Here were Henry Saragi, general sectretary of La Via Campesina International to the right, a mass movement with 200 million members.

Photo with restricted copyright,

Here were Wahu Kaara from Kenya Debt Relief Network, representing the international alliance of People’s movement on Climate Change.

Photo with restricted copyright,

And many others but not Friends of the Earth International who had chosen to stage their own protest against being thrown out of the Bella center. Instead of supporting their claimed main cooperation partner Via Campesina who participated fully both in the inside and on the outside. FOEI chosed to stand aside and make their own sit in to protest against the treatment of themselves and some few other NGOs temporarily stopped from coming inside.

The Reclaim Power march from the inside became powerful with a lot of commitment, chanting and music.

Meanwhile the blue bloc came closer and closer to the main gates of the Bella center and were soon to be seen some 200 meters away by the bloc with yellow UN badges of walk out people from the inside. The question is what should happen?

Survival Media’s photostream at Flickr web site

The walk out bloc moved towards the fence from the inside. The police had told them not to in spite of that the situation was totally under control and the bridge over some muddy water were the inside Reclaim power could come out in the right direction was very narrow an allowed only a few to come across at the time. Thus it would have been easy to arrange so that few people at a time in good order could join the march on the outside.

Photo with restricted copyright,

The walk out bloc advanced when the police started to beat the UN accredited delegates violently. I must admit that this I thought never would be possible. That the host country of a UN conference beats up masses of UN accredited persons to stop them from walking out to attend a People’s Assembly.

Photo with restricted copyright,

On that bridge only 20 meters close to the people outside history was made. For each beating of danish sticks a grave was dug for the future of governments from small nations to have a say in world politics. Only the people in these nations allied across boundaries with people in other nations can now save the small countries from disappearing as a voice in international affairs.

For a full length commented video coverage of this action, see:

The outside push for climate justice

Meanwhile the lack of communication in the blue block caused some confusion. The march went to far and a group that was not supposed to come in front of the fence was suddenly facing the need for making a push which they were willing to but others as well. Some people from the front had to make their way through to some to the spot were the push for climate justice should start. But things were sorted out quite quickly it seemed. The number of participants was all the time limited and in general the whole code of conduct was such that any serious attempt of entering the Bella Center area more than symbolically for some meters and together with people from the inside there establish a Peoples Assembly had always been the only possible option. And so it was now with the second option to arrange a People’s Assembly and the Bella center fences on the outside.

Photo from Climate Justice Action website, Logan Dogan

The police started to kettle the demonstration coming with a row of sturdy police vans from the East. Order to go away in the name of the Queen was issued three times each in different languages. Loud and clear. Old mistakes on this point by the Danish police causing chaos should not be repeated.

Photo from Climate Justice Action website, Logan Dogan

The police advanced slowly. People were getting prepared.

Medic teams stayed closed to take care of people if necessary. Here everyone was necessary. People willing to push, people willing to be there, people prepared with treatment against the panic that easily took the grip of anyone getting pepper spray in her or his eyes, clowns making everybody happy and maybe even those who mainly were observers as myself trying to maybe do the best we could.

People were mainly young but there were also elderly. The situation became more and more tense.

In front of the police vans a barricade of bicycles was made to protect the van belonging to the demonstrators. The van was seen as crucial to maintain togetherness among the participants.

A first attempt at pushing towards the fence was made.

The police in action. Photo from Indymedia

The van was soon lost and two more CJA spokespersons arrested. People continued to push. In Swedish activist discussion forum,,  there has been some criticism of the unrealistic way the whole action was planned and how the continued attempts at pushing caused harm to many. In the front were some 30 people pepper sprayed making their eyes burning and 10 people got injured according to Indymedia reports. One activist were able to climb on top of a police van but was beaten to the ground by the police.

Many people have problems or get treated for getting pepper spray in the eyes while others are prepared for action with goggles.

People that were pepper sprayed by the police got helped by the medics to ease the intense buring feeling that easily causes panic.

Mass arrests started. In total some 250 people were arrested during the Reclaim power action.

The black and white photos above are from

Photos and report from Indymedia,

Also other made attempts and some actually succeeded. A raft was constructed and people advanced across a dike. Here they were pepper sprayed and met by a dog but made it anyway to the other side thus entering the Bella center area. The People’s Assembly had managed to establish a bridge head inside at least symbolically. The people were very quickly arrested.

Seven young farmers also made an attempt according to a report made by the representative from Via Campesina at the Post-COP15 session at the Klimaforum. In line with the slogan of the young movement, Reclaim the fields, the golf course directly close to  the Bella Center was occupied to enable further advancing towards The Bella center area. Police dogs were quickly  chasing the young farmers who escaped in a tree until they were caught by the police.

Later in the evening six activists was once more able to enter the Bella center area by sneaking through the main entrance but quickly taken them as well.

The affinity group tactics made at least one symbolic victory but in general it failed. What was left after that both the affinity groups and the walk out bloc had not succeeded to establish any significant people’s Assembly inside the Bella center area was the blue bloc outside. The only remaining mass force in the action able of doing something.

But this group was heavily surrounded by police. From the North police vans came closer with riot police advancing in military style behind each van kettling the mass action completely from the North and the East. To the South was the well protected Bella center area. When no stones were in sight the police came forward and advanced in chains chasing people in front of them. Far to the West one could see police vans also approaching. The only escape now seemed to be through the marsh probably getting once feet wet.

The push for climate justice from the outside and the inside at the main gate seemed to have failed and the remaining forces trapped alone outside.

For very many pictures from the confrontations outside and some inside, see: and:

Renewed support from the inside

The police continued to push the masses away from the main gate into what still looked like a kettle operation enabling the police to arrest everyone at any moment.

I could not come out anymore but let myself to go aside on an isolated island in the midst of the kettled area.

Here one could see behind us three gigantic statues as witnesses with the Copenhagen coal power plant run by the Swedish state owned Vattenfall in the back ground.

Someone waved his rain bow peace flag facing Bella Center.

On top of a construction on the island others put a huge banner with a democracy arrow pointing at one direction and a Copenhagen arrow pointing at the other direction.

At the same time inside the Bella Center there came renewed support for the protesters outside and this time not possible to silence. From the main speakers tribune in the general plenary of the COP15 negotiations president Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez addressed the protesters and messages on the streets. The inside – outside action for climate justice was still there, highly present at the moment and for the future.

Hugo Chavez speaking to the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. Photo from Telesur.

In his statement he made it clear:

“There are many people outside… I’ve read in the news that there were some arrests, some intense protests there in the streets of Copenhagen, and I salute all those people out there, the majority of them youth… They are young people concerned for the world’s future,”

and furthermore:

“I have been reading some of the slogans painted in the streets… One said, ‘Don’t Change the Climate, Change the System!’ And I bring that on board for us. Let’s not change the climate. Let’s change the system! And as a consequence, we will begin to save the planet. Capitalism is a destructive development model that is putting an end to life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the human species.”

The complete speech you find here:

Evo Morales equally addressed the voices of protests outside in the general assembly at COP15. Yoiu can read an interview by Democracy Now with him here about his position, “policies of unlimited industrialization are what destroys the environment.”:

Miguel Palacin, chairman of the Andean coordination of indigenous people protesting at the Reclaim power action just before leaving for the airport. He is standing in front police vans and actvists at the Bella center were Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales were speaking on behalf of the Andean and Carribean people in the ALBA alliance.

After a while the police also cleansed the island where I had been standing for a while. I managed to get out. Here I met people being arrested.

Once more I could see the spontaneous disciplined organization at work. Or rather the verb organize rather than organization working. Immediately when the arrested boy came towards the police van someone approached him and asked about his name and the causes for his arrest.

Afterwards I saw the women talking to someone in the legal team. I asked her if she was a member of the legal team herself. She was not. But it was easy she said. Anyone could do it. It was just to ask for basic information if someone got arrested so none would be taken unnoticed and all should feel that their voice is getting heard. Horizontal, spontaneous and specialized functions in action. Needless to say food for the actvists all over Copenhagen was organized the same way by volunteers. In the streets and at the alternative media centers people worked hard to sustain correct information serving the movement in Copenhagen and the rest of the world. Hundreds and hundreds of unpaid volunteers each doing their task to help the collective effort.

I continued towards my borrowed bike hoping it still was placed were I left it. So it was. Now it was easy to make a long tour around the the police cordon and advancing towards the remaining blue bloc through the Amager commons marsh.

The People’s Assembly

And there it was after making ones feet a bit wet! Finally I were in the midst of the People’s Assembly. All the friends from the unified rural and urban struggle for food sovereignty, against economic globalization and for social justice everywhere also on the countryside and not only for urban and industrial people seemed to be there. There were Friends of the Earth Uruguay who together with Friends of the Earth Finland and Sweden were present already when People’s Global Action against “Free Trade” and WTO was established in Geneva in February 1998. Now we met again only missing our absent Finnish friends. The confrontational left were nowhere to be seen, at least their banners were gone. This was a gathering of the global South and their allies, with Jubilee South still proudly wavering their banner demanding: Change trade – not our climate and the people from Via Campesina wearing their green scarfs.

The People’s Assembly had been going on for quite a while. Documentation is easy to find via Indymedia: “The Peoples Assembly was streamed live thanks to the IMC-Radio crew, which was a great thing. Due to cop violence we missed the initial opening of the assembly (there was much chaos and running about)” You find three long webcast radio files at:

Photo by Climate Justice Action

Above all were there at the People’s Assembly many green Via Campesina flags and foremost Josie Riffaud, my favourite flower farmer from Bordeaux in France. Someone helped us and I could get the photograph made below with the Climate Justice Now! banner in the background.

Josie Riffaud to the left from Via Campesina International and Tord Björk, member of Friends of the Earth Sweden Climate Group and the author of this report in the hat with a Reclaim Gandhi sticker on the coat.

The Assembly was going to move after a while. The good mood from the whole march from Tårnby to the Bella center was still there. At the police line stopping us from going to the west were young people playing limbo with the plastic band stopping us from leaving.

The march to the city center

Now we were ready for marching again, a long march to the city center. The helicopter above us was ready borrowed for the occasion from the Swedish police to be able to carry heavy video machinery. All the police vans following us were ready, all the policeman walking at both sides of us were ready and so were we. Once more I tried the man in the hat trick. It did not work inside the kettle in front of the Bella center but here I hoped it could work as many times before. And so it did. I was able to get out to find my bike again and recatch the march later cycling through the Amager Commons.

So I did. The march was still in the very good mood it had been for the whole day.

Surrounded by the police we marched on and on.

Here I used the opportunity to finally escape and get a final view from a house far above the demonstrators coming from the Peoples Assembly. A long action day was over. The Bella Wall between people and power will never be the same.

Tord Björk

New call to action – Reclaim Power!

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 Peoples Assembly.

Our goal is to disrupt the sessions and open a space inside the UN area to hold the Assembly. The assembly will give a voice to those who are not being heard, it will be an opportunity to change the agenda, to discuss the real solutions, to send a clear message to the world calling for climate justice.

There will be a legalized starting point, which will be announced to the media and the police. From there, the climate justice bloc will move on towards the Bella Center. Affinity groups will make their way to the border of the conference area from various directions. The aim is for all groups coming from the outside to start entering the UN Area at 10am. At the same time, groups inside the Summit will start to disrupt the sessions and mobilize people to leave the  negotiations and participate in the Peoples Assembly. The assembly will start at 12pm at the main entrance to the Bella Center inside the UN Area.

Reclaim Power! is a confrontational mass action of non-violent 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, nor create unsafe situations; we will be there to make our voices heard!

The Peoples Assembly, in opposition to the false solutions being negotiated at the Climate Summits, will highlight alternatives that provide real and just solutions: leaving fossil fuels in the ground; reasserting peoples’ and community control over resources; relocalising food production; massively 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.

After 15 years of negotiations and no real solutions to the climate crisis, we say enough! No more markets based solutions, no to corporate greed and short term politics deciding our future! No to colonialism and the land-grabs taking place in local and indigenous communities!

In December, we, from our many different backgrounds and movements, experiences and struggles, will come together. We are indigenous peoples and farmers, workers and environmentalists, feminists and anticapitalists.
Now, our diverse struggles for social and ecological justice are finding common ground in the struggle for climate justice, and in our desire to reclaim power over our own future.

See you on the streets!

System change – not climate change: Klimaforum declaration ready for Sign-On!

Tord Björk | Climate,Friends of the Earth,Klimaforum,political culture,Summits,Uncategorized | Friday, December 11th, 2009

Editing committee the decisive night in practice (for official participants, see Klimaforumwebsite) fromthe left to the right: Permaculture Institute of El Salvador – Juan N. Rojas (at times also translator and actively cooperating with committee menber Grupo de Reflexión Rural (ONG) – Inés Maria Aiuto, Argentina, Women’s Initiatives for Society, Culture, and Environment, Phillipines – Marlea P. Munez,Mathilde Kaalund-Jørgensen, Coordinator of the declaration process, Klimaforum09 Denmark, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) – Irene Velez from Colombia,  People’s Movement on Climate Change (PMCC)/IBON – Paul Quintos fromthe Phillipines, Permakultur Danmark – Kirsten Gamst, Institute of Environment and Water, Kenya – Geoffrey Kimiti Mburu 

System change – not climate change: A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09 is now ready for sign-on. You can sign -on via Klimaforum webbpage or if you find a box were you can put a piece of paper were you can submit your signitures. You can find a pdf file with the final declaration here:

Mathilde, Declaration group coordinator and John Holten Andersen, board member of Klimaforum09 preparing the drafting room.

The declaration work started when all committee members and Danish Klimaforum board members were carrying chairs and tables to make it possible to use an empty room in an old meat process factory at the Pork Square in an odd corner of the meat town at some distance from Klimaforum main venue.

Morten Hansson, Attac Denmark and Klimaforum board member as well as trouble shooter taking care of any problem, here carrying chairs for the drafting room. There has been problem for many international organizations to understand the realities of Danish political culture and how Danish organizations and actvism looks like. Klimaforum have some 6 people paid in the staff, the rest is volunteer work by 27 very small organizations that all have to carry out their own activities during COP15 as well. The big NGOs have chosen to put all their energy into lobbying inside the Bella Center instead or as the Conservation society with a total number of members equal to every tenth Danish inhabitant (ca.half a million members) to organize a big mass activity as a fair to promote ecological business and local initiatives 3-6/12. Attac Denmark have 200 members and in total 4 are active to prepare Attac activities during COP15 including taking a main reponsibility for carrying out Klimaforum. Besides doing the Attac Denmark activities and helping out with any Klimaforum responsibilities the four Attac Denmark members also have to take care of 500 visiting Attac Members from the rest of the world including lodging, social events, demonstration preparations and whatever there is. Attac Denark is furthermore the only Danish formal organization so far which is not a loose activist network that has decided to support the Recalim Power Climate Justice action on December 16. 

Intertwined with the introduction and the declaration you find photos of the editing group while working with the final draft before it should be adopted.

In the meat factory

A new song about writing declarations:

Last night I had, the strangest dream, I never dreamt before. I dreamt there was and end to all drafts, and I could sleep much more. I dreamt about a huge big hall were all could sit and eat, and nowhere was that ugly food they call the bloody meat.

Apart from photos you will find below a comparisment between the first and the final declaration. The summary did not exist in the first draft, the rest are shown here with the paragraphs put together so that the first paragraph in the final declaration is followed by the fist paragraph of the first draft, etc.

It was about half past three when the editing committee could start their work to prepare the last draft before adopting the Klimaforum declaration. The first draft was presented by the editing committee November 15. The second draft some day before the Klimaforum and COP15 started. Now it was time for the third draft and it was yesterday they started working on it, December 9. I was there to help out if needed and had the time to document the drafters while they were working.


Finally the adoptation of the System Change – not climate change declaration could be carried out at a plenary between 10 and 12 o’clock, extended for one hour.

Editing committee discussing in plenary with the opposition on the need for a stronger and more democratic UN, a proposal that finally made it into both COP15 demands, the preamble and the summary

Here is the text were minor linguistic corrections still may be necessary:

  • System change – not climate change

A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09


There are solutions to the climate crisis. What people and the planet need is a just and sustainable
transition of our societies to a form that will ensure the rights of life and dignity of all peoples and deliver a more fertile planet and more fulfilling lives to future generations.

We, participating peoples, communities and all organizations at the Klimaforum09 in Copenhagen, call
upon every person, organization, government and institutions, including the United Nations (UN), to
contribute to this necessary transition. It will be a challenging task. The crisis of today has economic,
social, environmental, geopolitical, and ideological aspects interacting with and enforcing each other as
well as the climate crisis. For this reason, we call for urgent climate action:

A complete abandoning of fossil fuels within the next 30 years, which must include specific
milestones for every 5-year period. We demand an immediate cut in GHG of industrialized
countries of at least 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020.

Recognition, payment and compensation of climate debt for the overconsumption of
atmospheric space and adverse effects of climate change on all affected groups and people.

Rejection to purely market-oriented and technology-centred false and dangerous solutions
such as nuclear energy, agro-fuels, carbon capture and storage, Clean Development Mechanisms,
biochar, genetically “climate-readied” crops, geo-engineering and reducing emissions from
deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), which deepens social and environmental conflicts.

Real solutions to climate crisis based on safe, clean, renewable and sustainable use of natural
resources, as well as transitions to food, energy, land and water sovereignty.

Therefore, we demand of COP15 to reach an agreement that will initiate the restoration of the
environmental, social and economic balance of planet Earth by means that are environmentally, socially
and economically sustainable and equitable, and finally come up with a legally binding treaty.

The adverse impacts of human-induced climate change cause gross violations of human rights. The
nations have an obligation to cooperate internationally to ensure respect for human rights everywhere in the world according to the Charter of the United Nations. Any specific agreement on climate change must be seen in the broader context of achieving a sustainable transition of our societies.

We, participating people and organisations at Klimaforum09, commit to continue our full and active
engagement in promoting such a transition, which will require a fundamental change in social, political
and economic structures and a rectification of gender, class, race, generation, ethnic inequalities and
This requires restoration of democratic sovereignty of our local communities as a basic social, political and economic unit. Local and democratic ownership and control over and access to natural resources will be the basis for meaningful and sustainable development of communities, and simultaneously reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. There is also the need for stronger regional and international cooperative
arrangements to manage common and shared resources, and a stronger and democratic UN.
We call upon every concerned person, social movement, cultural, political or economic organisation to
join us in building a strong global movement of movements, which can bring forward peoples’ visions and emands on every level of society. Together, we can make global transitions to sustainable futures.

The declaration, final version

System change – not climate change
A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09

1. Preamble

There are solutions to the climate crisis. What people and the planet need is a just and sustainable
transition of our societies to a form that will ensure the rights of life and dignity of all people and deliver amore fertile planet and more fulfilling lives to present and future generations. A transition based on
democratic principles of solidarity, especially for the most vulnerable, non-discrimination, gender equality,
equity, and sustainability, acknowledging that we are part of nature, which we love and respect. To address
the climate crisis, however, awareness creation and determined actions adhering to a rights-based
framework are required. The nations have an obligation to cooperate internationally to ensure respect for
human rights everywhere in the world according to the Charter of the United Nations.
We, participating peoples, communities and all organizations at the Klimaforum09 in Copenhagen, call
upon every person, organization, government and institution, including the United Nations (UN), to
contribute to this necessary transition. It will be a challenging task. The crisis of today has economic,
social, environmental, geopolitical, and ideological aspects interacting with and enforcing each other as
well as the climate crisis. This very moment of conjunction of crises — climate-, energy-, financial-, food and water crisis, among others, urges us to unite and transform the dominant social and economic system
as well as global governance, which blocks necessary solutions to the climate crisis. For this reason, a
movement from below is called upon to act now.
Environmental and climate debts must be paid. No false, dangerous and short-term solutions should be
promoted and adopted, such as nuclear power, agro-fuels, offsetting, carbon capture and storage (CCS),
biochar, geo-engineering, and carbon trading. Instead we should implement a truly sustainable transition
built on clean, safe and renewable resources and energy conservation. We welcome alliances across social
movements and sectors, representing all ages, genders, ethnicities, faiths, communities and nationalities.
We want to take the future into our own hands by building a strong and popular movement of youth,
women, men, workers, peasants, fisher folks, indigenous peoples, people of colour, urban, and rural social
groups which is able to act on all levels of society to deal with environmental degradation and climate
change. We call for a new international economic order and support a strong and democratic UN as
opposed to G8, G20 or other closed groups of powerful countries.

The 1st draft

System change – not climate change
A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09

1. Preamble

There is a solution to climate change. What people and the planet need is a just and sustainable transition of our societies to a form that will deliver a more fertile planet and more fulfilling lives to future generations.

We, participating people and organisations at the Klimaforum09 in Copenhagen, call upon every concerned person, social movement, cultural, political, economic or other forms of organization to contribute to this necessary transition. It will not be an easy task. The climate challenge is indivisibly linked to other critical ecological problems as well as to complex social issues. There are no real solutions unless both social justice and ecological awareness are taken into account. It is essential to recognize that both of these issues are loaded with conflicts: On the one hand a conflict between the rich and the poor, which is only emphasized by the environmental debt, which the former owes to the latter. On the other hand a conflict exists between false solutions, like nuclear power, bio-fuels, CCS and carbon trading, and a truly sustainable transition based on renewable resources.

We welcome alliances across the divide between different movements, representing all kinds of age, gender, ethnicity, beliefs and trades as well as like-minded municipal and national governments. We want to take the future in our own hands by building a strong and popular movement of movements of men, women, youth, workers, peasants, fisher folk, indigenous peoples, urban, and rural social groups which is able to act on all levels of society to deal with environmental degradation and climate change.

As outlined in the political platform of Klimaforum09, we demand and will contribute to sustainable solutions that

1. prioritise energy saving,
2. promote the use of safe, clean, renewable energy,
3. reduce greenhouse gas emissions and as such do not promote or cement the use of fossil fuels,
4. are built on agricultural methods that fix carbon in the soil and reduce the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides by sustainable farming and peoples’ food sovereignty and not market-based solutions for mitigation and adaptation of agriculture to climate change.
5. secure sustainable use of as well as equitable and just access to resources of the earth, including huge financial and technological transfers from North to South, based on the repayment of climate and environmental debts and subject to democratic control.
6. radically reduce wasteful consumption, first and foremost in the North, but also by Southern elites.
7. bring social change in the control of the means of production that promote a sustainable transition.
8. enforce indigenous land rights and promotes peoples’ sovereignty over energy, forests, land and water.

We declare:

this is how we see the climate challenge
this is the direction in which we will move
this is the road to sustainable transition


While some are working, others takes a rest

The declaration, final version

2. The challenge, as we see it:
The concentration of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) in the atmosphere is already so high, that the climate
system has been brought out of balance. The CO2 concentration and global temperatures have increased
more rapidly in the last 50 years and will rise even faster in the coming decades. This adds to a multitude
of other serious ecological imbalances, the impacts of which threatens the lives and livelihoods of the
people of the world, most acutely, the impoverished people and other vulnerable groups.

The imbalance of the climate system leads to greater and more frequent extremes of heat and rainfall
patterns, tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons, extreme flooding and droughts, loss of biodiversity,
landslides, rising sea levels, shortage of drinking water, shorter growing seasons, lower yields, lost or
deteriorated agricultural land, decreased agricultural production, losses of livestock, extinction of especially in the North rather than for local basic needs. The same can be said about modern industrial
fisheries, intensive forestry and mining which destroys ecosystems, diminishes biodiversity and destroys
the life and livelihoods of local communities.
These effects of climate change together with growing social inequalities and severe impacts on our
common environment are already devastating the lives of millions of people as well as their local
communities. However, we – the people -are not prepared to accept this fact as our fate. That is why there
are fast growing popular movements determined to defend their livelihoods and stand up against those
forces and causes, which have led us on to this ultimately suicidal route of environmental destruction.
In Asia, Africa, Middle East, Oceania and South and Central America as well as the periphery of North
America and Europe popular movements are rising to confront the exploitation of their land by foreign
interests and to regain control over their own resources. A new type of activism has revitalized the
environmental movements, leading to a wide variety of protests and actions against mining, big dams,
deforestation, coal fired plants, air travel and the building of new roads among others. There is a growing
awareness about the need to change the present economic paradigm in a very fundamental way. Among
various movements, alternative ways of life are proliferating. At the same time it is becoming evident to
the public that the present holders of power are unwilling to face and deal with the threats of climate
change and environmental degradation. The so-called strategy of ‘green growth’ or ‘sustainable growth’
has turned out to be an excuse for pursuing the same basic model of economic development, that is one
of the root causes of environmental destruction and the climate crisis.


1st draft

2. People are rising to the threat of climate change

All over the world the effects of climate change is becoming more and more evident. Together with growing social inequalities and many other severe impacts on our common environment, it is already now severely threatening the lives of millions of people as well as their local communities. However people are not prepared just to accept this fact as their fate and therefore we are also witnessing a fast growing popular movement of climate activism, that is resolved to defend life hoods and stand up against those forces and causes, that have led us on to this deadly route of environmental destruction.

In Asia, Africa, Oceania and South and Central America popular movements are rising to confront the exploitation of their land by foreign interests and to regain control over their own resources. A good case in point is Bolivia, where an alliance of workers, peasants and indigenous people for many years have struggled for their rights to land, water and natural resources. With the victory of the popular movement and the instalment of a new government the people of Bolivia now have the opportunity to regain control over their own land and natural resources to the benefit of both the environment and the people.

Generally it seems that the unity of social and environmental movements have been most successful in the south, while the situation in the north is still very much characterized by a fragmentation of interests and agendas. However within the last couple of years the dire prospects of climate change appear to have opened the eyes of more and more people, also in the North. As a result a new type of activism has revitalized the environmental movements, leading to a wide variety of protests and actions against mining, big damns, deforestation, coal fired plants, the air traffic or the erection of new motor roads. There is also a growing awareness about the need to change the present economic growth paradigm in a very fundamental way and among various movements concrete experiments with alternative ways of life are proliferating. At the same time it is becoming evident to still larger groups of the public, that the present mainstream policies to combat climate change are basically hypocritical and untrustworthy. The so called strategy of ‘green growth’ or ‘sustainable growth’ has turned out to be an excuse for pursuing the same basic model of economic development, that is the root cause of environmental destruction and climate crisis. More and more people all over the world have come to the conclusion that the present holders of global power are unwilling and unable to face and deal with the threats of climate change and environmental degradation.

The declaration, final version

3. The causes, as we see them:
The immediate and primary cause of human-induced climate change is an unprecedented emission of
greenhouse gasses (GHGs) into the atmosphere originating from the increasing burning of fossil fuels
from industry, commerce, transport and military purposes, to mention a few but significant sources. Other
important drivers of climate change are deforestation, extractive industries, forest degradation — excluding
indigenous people’s sustainable practice of shifting cultivations — disturbance of water cycle, expanding
areas through land grabbing for industrial agriculture, increased industrial meat-production and other
types of unsustainable use of natural resources.

Uneven control and ownership over resources

These immediate causes are the results of an unsustainable global economic system built on unequal
access to and control over the planet’s limited resources and the benefits that accrue from their use. This
system is premised on the appropriation of local, national and planetary commons by local and global
elites. What has been praised as great strides in technology, production and human progress has in fact
precipitated global ecological and development disasters. Still, a privileged global elite engages in reckless
profit-driven production and grossly excessive consumption while a very large proportion of humanity is
mired in poverty with merely survival and subsistence consumption, or even less. This is the situation not
only in countries of the South but also in the North. The world’s largest transnational corporations
(TNCs) based mainly in the northern countries and tax-havens, but with expanding operations, have long
been at the forefront of these excesses.
The competition among global corporations and rich nations for resources and greater market shares, as
well as trade agreements and treaties, have led to a neo-colonial suppression of southern peoples, denying
them rightful ownership and control of their resources. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and
international financial institutions, as well as the European Union (EU) and United States (US) using
bilateral trade agreements, are increasing the privatization and commoditization of public resources,
intensifying the plunder of natural resources of underdeveloped countries and imposing conditions that
increase their dependence.
Prevailing patterns of thought and alternatives

The development model promoted by these institutions is not only a question of ‘economics’. The
prevailing economic paradigm is strongly related to the system of thought, which is based on an
imagination of the human being as ‘economic man’. This ideology is reinforced by corporate media and
marketing firms which promote egoism, competition, material consumption and boundless accumulation
of private wealth in utter disregard of the social and ecological consequences of such behaviour. This
system of thought is intimately intertwined with patterns of patriarchy and paternalism.
If we really want to address this crisis, we need to recognize that the human species is part of both nature
and society and cannot exist without either. Therefore if humanity is to survive, we need to respect the
integrity of Mother Earth and strive for harmony with nature and for peace within and between cultures.
We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world. Everyone shares responsibility for the
present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human
solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live according to the principle of ‘One among

1st draft

3. The challenge, as we see it:

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is all ready so high, that the climate system is brought out of balance. The global temperatures have increased twice as fast in the last 50 years as over the last century and will rise even faster in the coming decades. This adds to a multitude of other serious ecological imbalances, the impact of which threatens the lives and livelihoods of the people of the world, and most acutely of the impoverished poor.

The imbalance of the climate system leads to greater and more frequent extremes of heat and rainfall patterns, tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons, extreme flooding and droughts, reduced biodiversity, landslides and avalanches, rising sea levels brings shortage of drinking water, shorter growing seasons, lower yields, lost or deteriorated agricultural land, decreased agricultural production, extinction of marine ecosystems, diminished fish stocks, resulting in famine, illness, death, disruption of communities and extinction of indigenous forms of life.

A good case in point is the recent situation in East Africa. Beginning around the turn of the century the region has witnessed a serious period of drought, lasting for almost 5 years. This led to a massive loss of livestock and created a serious food crisis for more than eight million people. Having only just recovered from this drought, the region is now witnessing an entirely opposite extreme, namely the onset of El Nino Rains, which has triggered widespread flooding that has destroyed homes, harvest, roads etc. Huge numbers of people have been displaced over night and there have been many casualties. Environmentally the Climate Change is as real as daily light to many small-scale farmers. The rainy cycle is delayed, unpredictable and has shortened in time length. The agricultural land is in a state of infertility due to heavy erosion facing a deep degradation; the traditional way of farming has been forgotten by the modern farmers adding more difficulties towards the replenishing of the soil.

Adding to the effects of climate change, intensive and industrial systems of agriculture, expanding at the expense of sustainable small-scale agriculture, create severe erosion, polluted aquifers and seriously diminished biodiversity. This agro-export model turns the green land into absolute deserts. Millions of hectares of monoculture of soybeans and biotech cotton, sugar cane, trees, palm oil and other raw materials are produced to meet global demand for animal feed, fibre, energy, cellulose, wood, and to a lesser extent, food. Overfishing by modern industrial fishing boats threaten the stocks of fish in all oceans, thereby destroying the economic foundation of many local and sustainable fishing communities. Modern industrial forestry diminishes the biodiversity of important ecosystems, destroying the life and livelihoods of many indigenous people. Industrial mining is poisoning the environment, especially in the south. The waste generated by excessive consumption especially in the north is sent back to the south, where it poisons the environment once more.

4. The causes, as we see them:

The immediate and primary cause of man-made climate change is an unprecedented emission of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere originating from ever-mounting burning of fossil fuels for industry, commerce, transport as well as military purposes to mention a few, but prevalent origins. Secondly deforestation, forest degradation, expanding areas of agriculture for cash crops for export, increased meat-production and other types of unsustainable use of natural resources are important drivers of climate change.

Uneven control and ownership over resources

It is however important to recognize that these immediate causes are the results of an unsustainable global economic system built on the unequal access to and control over the planet’s limited resources and the benefits that accrue from their use. This system is premised on the appropriation of local, national and planetary commons by local and global elites. What has been praised as great strides in technology, production and human progress – has in fact to a large extent precipitated global ecological and development disasters. On the one hand a privileged global elite engages in reckless profit-driven production and grossly excessive consumption. On the other hand, a very large proportion of humanity is mired in poverty with merely survival and subsistence consumption, or even less. The world’s largest transnational corporations (TNCs) based mainly in the Northern countries, but with expanding operations in the South, have long been at the forefront of these excesses. Indeed the powerful industrialized nations of today were built on the severe exploitation of the human and natural resources of the global South.

The competition among global corporations and rich nations for resources and greater market shares have in present times led to a neo-colonial subjugation of Southern peoples, denying them rightful ownership and control of their resources. This has transformed the economies away from diversified and self-reliant systems. The race for corporate profits and growth-guided economic decisions has resulted in overproduction and over-consumption for a minority, which has put unprecedented strains on the planet’s resources and absorptive capacity for waste. Alongside the increased burning of fossil fuels and destruction of terrestrial and aquatic resources from mineral extraction, export manufacturing, industrial agriculture, and global transportation, this process is marked by the aggressive privatization and commoditisation of public resources, the dislocation of local communities and livelihoods, unequal trade relations, and the massive appropriation of social and natural wealth by elites in the North as well as parts of the South.

Prevailing economic and political paradigm and norms

At the core of this present development model is the pursuit of growth and profit promoting exploitation, structural poverty, environmental degradation and global warming. This development model is however not only a question of ‘economics’ – in the narrow sense of this term. The prevailing economic paradigm is strongly related to the prevailing political paradigm, which again is founded on prevailing cultural norms and values with deep roots in the history of especially the West. Intertwined with patterns of patriarchy and paternalism this model has been exported to the rest of the world.

What is at stake is a system of thought, which is based on an image of the human being as ‘economic man’. He is a subject without ties, a rational, utilitarian individualist, oriented towards maximising his own interests and increasing his own wealth. He is a subject immersed in an environment, which is seen as a world of mere ‘objects’, from which he is thoroughly detached and alienated. This rational ‘economic man’ is the master of nature, yet, he has no feeling for and therefore do not know, what nature is really about.

It is this very mentality, so deeply rooted especially in western thought, which has provided us with many of the great technological revolutions, on which much of our present wealth is grounded. However, it is this very same pattern of thought, which has also led us into the present unprecedented ecological crisis. If we really want to address this crisis, we need to find a way out of this intrinsic conflict between the technological mastering of nature and the respect for the integrity of mother Earth. This requires a thorough rethinking of the whole paradigm of development, which is so dominant today.

In this endeavour we may find much inspiration from indigenous peoples, who have a far more holistic vision of mans relation to nature, involving, amongst other things, a cyclical understanding of time and space. A good case in point is the cultural heritage of the Mesoamerican region. Here the ancestral legacy made of Maya, Pipil, Lenca and other indigenous peoples has provided the new generation of environmentalist with a new world view, which has been an important source of inspiration.

Current political negotiations are not intended to change anything in respect to the actual standard of living of the western societies and the economic system. The climate problems are getting worse day by day and if there is not going to be a radical and urgent change in our behaviour, it will not be possible to mitigate its effects of climate change.

The declaration, final version

4. A just and sustainable transition

It is clear that solving the climate crisis requires far-reaching transformations, which are currently
excluded from the agenda of policy-makers in governments and multilateral institutions. People are
calling for system change, not “business-as-usual” and the uncritical use of technology- and marketfixes
along which powerful interests have set and confined the climate agenda.

People’s movements are not lacking alternative visions for society and concrete steps that must be
taken in order to move towards a sustainable future while addressing the climate, water, food and
economic crises at the same time. Such a sustainable transition will begin by many different
initiatives. Some of these steps towards sustainable transition are:

Food sovereignty and ecological agriculture: Uphold the rights of people,
communities, and countries to determine their own systems of production including
farming, fishing, food, forestry and land policies, which are ecologically, socially,
economically and culturally appropriate to the circumstances. People’s, especially women´s
access to and control over productive resources such as land, seeds and water must be
respected and guaranteed. Agricultural production must rely principally on local
knowledge, appropriate technology and ecologically sustainable techniques that bind CO2
in the diverse and native plant systems, bind water and return more nutrients to the soil,
than was taken out. Food and agricultural production must be primarily geared towards
meeting local needs, encourage self-sufficiency, promote local employment, and minimize
resource use, waste and GHG emissions in the process.
Democratic ownership and control of economy: The reorganization of society’s
productive units around more democratic forms of ownership and management, in order
to meet people’s basic needs such as employment-creation, access to water, housing, land,
health care and education, food sovereignty, and ecological sustainability. Public policy
must make sure that the financial system serves public interests and channel resources for
the sustainable transformation of industry, agriculture and services.
Energy sovereignty: A dramatic reduction of energy consumption especially in the
unjustly enriched countries combined with a blend of renewable and public energy sources
such as solar, wind, geothermal, mini-hydro, wave and the development of off-the-grid
electricity distribution to secure energy supplies to communities, and public ownership for
the grid.
Ecological planning of urban and rural zones: The aim is a radical reduction in the
inputs of energy and resources and the outputs of waste and pollution while encouraging
locally based supply of basic needs of the citizens. An urban and rural planning built on
social justice and equal service to all reducing the need for transport. Promoting public
transport systems such as light and high-speed rail-systems and bicycles reducing the need
for private motor vehicles thus decongesting the roads, improving health and reducing
energy consumption.
Education, science and cultural institutions: Re-orientate public research and
education to meet the needs of people and the environment, rather than the present bias for developing commercially profitable and proprietary technologies. Research and
development should be primarily an open and collaborative endeavour in the common
interest of humankind, and eliminate patents on ideas and technology. Fair and just
exchange of appropriate technologies, traditional knowledge and indigenous innovative
practices, and ideas between countries should be encouraged.
End to militarism and wars: The present fossil fuel based development model leads to
violence, war and military conflict over control of energy, land, water and other natural
resources. This is demonstrated by the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and
Afghanistan, militarization in across in the globe in regions rich on fossil fuels and other
natural resources. Peasants and indigenous communities are also being violently displaced
from their lands to make way for agrofuel plantations. Trillions of dollars are spent on the
military-industrial complex, wasting enormous material and human resources, which
should instead be devoted to implementing a sustainable transition.

By taking steps forward we can learn by doing. These steps will help us to convince the broad
majority of people, that a sustainable transition entails the promise of a more fulfilling and good life.
The social, political, economic and environmental fields are closely interrelated. A coherent strategy
must therefore address them all, which indeed is the central idea behind the concept of sustainable

One aspect of this concept is the restoration of local communities rather than the global market as a
basic social, political and economic unit. Social cohesion, democratic participation, economic
accountability and ecological responsibility can only be accomplished by restoring decision-making
at the lowest appropriate level. This is a basic lesson we have learned from ethnic cultures and local

A community-based approach does not however contradict the need for extensive international
cooperation. On the contrary, it will need stronger alliances within and across all borders between
direct producers in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and industry. Alliances also built on the strength of
gender equality and on recognizing and overcoming unjust power relations at all levels. It also
includes the need for stronger regional and international cooperative arrangements to manage
common and shared resources such as cross boarder water resources. Furthermore, international
cooperation will promote the full mutual exchange of ideas, technologies and expertise across all
boundaries as well as engage in an open-minded dialogue between different cultures based on
mutual respect.

1st draft (as paragraph 3 and 4 were merged in the final draft paragraph 5 in the 1st draft becomes paragraph 4 and the final version)

5. A sustainable transition

What is needed is a fundamental change of direction, a true transition towards a sustainable relation between peoples and nature, which is unthinkable without a similar transition of the social relations between people. Not a new ‘green deal’ or a new ‘green growth’ strategy which is to continue on basically the same unsustainable track as before.

A shift of paradigm

We cannot hope for a sustainable transition unless we manage to convince the broad majority of people, that it entails the promise of a more fulfilling and a more secure life- not for the rich, perhaps, but indeed for the many.

There are ample evidences that the present global growth-economy not only destroys our environment and natural resources but also creates extreme poverty especially for people, who are depending on these resources for their communities, homes, jobs and basic needs. At the same time in the poor as well as in the richer part of the world, the prevailing growth paradigm is undermining the fabric of public institutions, the coherence of whole societies and even the democratic participation of people and popular movements.

The present paradigm is not only undermining our communities and social institutions, but is also invalidating more and more people on the personal level. Man is not an individual “ego”, as the prevailing neo-liberal ideology wants us to believe. However the systematic weakening of communities, social institutions and democratic movements has the effect of isolating people from each other, thereby promoting hostility between various segments of society. The promotion of the individual consumer as the main ideal in the present development model is the promotion of a restless and distressed person. Instead we should encourage individuals to become real human beings by adopting the attitude of “One among Many”, and thereby become engaged in their local community and the environment on which it depends.

The concept of sustainable transition

All these social, political, economic and ecological issues are closely interrelated. A coherent strategy must therefore address them all, which indeed is the central idea behind the concept of sustainable transition.

The cornerstone of this concept is the restoration of the local community rather than the global market as the basic social, political and economic unit. Social cohesion, democratic participation, economic accountability and ecological responsibility can only be accomplished by taking power back from the global to the national and local level. This is the basic lesson that we have learnt from decades of market driven globalisation. This is the crucial political premise without which a true sustainable transition is unthinkable. Such a community-based approach will however need a stronger regional, international and global cooperative arrangement to manage common and shared resources and to solve conflicts in their use.

It is within the framework of a local political setting, that it is most likely to engage people in the difficult tasks of restructuring the whole system of production and consumption in a sustainable way. The perspective of this ecological restructuring is to achieve an economy that operates within the conditions and boundaries set by the local environment. The transition to organic farming and renewable energy are important steps in this direction, but a true sustainable transition must involve all the other sectors of the economy as well: Industry, construction, transportation, public infrastructure, consumption etc.

Such a transition of the entire economy implies a dramatic reduction in the use of natural resources, especially non-renewable fossil energy resources. On the other hand such an ecological economy will need many more skilled workers and crafted hands, than the energy- and resource intensive economy of today. An economy based on primarily local resources, must use these resources in an intelligent and efficient way, implying among other things high quality and long lives of durable goods and a high focus on repair and reuse. All this will require many more caring hands, than is the case today.

A summary of our concrete visions:

• Sustainable farming, forestry and fishery: diversified and ecologically sound agricultural food production that relies principally on local knowledge, appropriate technology and ecologically sustainable techniques that bind CO2, gather water and return more energy to the soil, than was taken out. Immediate global ban on deforestation and the parallel initiation of an ambitious global tree-planting program based on native and diverse species in partnership with indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities. Similarly a ban on industrialized fishing and an immediate return to local and sustainable fishing practices. Sustainable and local peasant production is, in fact, cooling the earth. Peasant agriculture allows carbon sequestration in soil and requires less fossil fuel-driven machinery and chemical inputs.
• Self-sufficiency: prioritization of self-sufficiency by diversifying industrial production, creating rural employment and meeting the demands of domestic industries and households and local consumption over international trade and export markets and thus increasing public welfare and sustaining livelihoods while minimizing energy, resource use and waste in the process
• Renewable energy and energy savings: increase in energy saving and reliance on a blend of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, mini-hydro, wave and the development of off-the-grid electricity distribution to secure energy supply to communities
• Public transportation systems such as light and high-speed rail-systems and bicycles away from resource-inefficient private motor vehicles thus decongesting the roads, improving health and reducing waste and carbon emission in the process.
• Reduction of physical inputs to the production, by progressively minimizing inputs of energy and raw materials, and at the same time expanding repair, reuse and recycling of waste products back into production cycle. While reducing physical inputs this transformation of production will at the same time involve many more skilled hands.
• Collective control and broader social objectives: egalitarian and cooperative land tenure and land use systems, that ensure the collective control and ecologically sound use of land, water, forest and marine resources by farmers, fishing and local communities. The reorganization of society’s productive units around more public, cooperative and community-based forms of ownership and management, in order to meet social needs and achieving other broader social objectives such as employment, health, education, food security, and ecological sustainability.
• Planning and management of enterprises and production sectors, that are based locally and act in the service of the community and the environment, thereby ensuring that production responds to social needs rather than create new, artificial and unsustainable wants; ensure that production proceeds within ecologically sustainable limits and other social standards.
• Public control of finance: All this requires an end to financial speculation and the neo-liberal doctrine of “free” markets. We need instead a politically controlled direction of financial resources into investments in renewable energy, energy-efficient public transport, insulation of houses and an ecological transformation of agriculture, forestry, fishery and industry.
• Public education and cultural institutions that reclaim people’s aspirations lost to consumerism, and instil ideals that value community, solidarity, individual and cultural diversity and respect for nature. This implies also a reorientation of public research and development to meet the needs of people and the environment, rather than the present focus on commercially profitable and proprietary technologies. All research and development should be an open and collaborative endeavour in the common interest of mankind, and patents on new ideas should be prohibited.
• Greater balance and equity in economic and political relations between nations through the equitable reallocation of global resources, the compensation of past economic disparities between nations and the reversal of all northward flows of Southern wealth through unfair trade, debt and investment transactions.
• Popular movement alliances for a constructive program to achieve sustainable transition of industry, land and water use built upon social changes in the control of the means of production promoting economic democracy.

The declaration, final version

5. Paths to transition

Many people are involved in the practical creation of more sustainable industry, agriculture, forestry,
and fishery as well as in the renewable energy sector. These initiatives within the system have
furthermore created alliances with other sectors of society, trade unions, consumers, city dwellers,
teachers, researchers all of whom are striving towards sustainable ways of life.

United Nations (UN) and Conference of Parties (COP)

We need to address the UN negotiations on Climate Change, and the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15)
on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The lessons from previous rounds of
negotiations are not very promising. Despite the high-profile schemes for concerted action launched first
in the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change of Rio de Janeiro and later in the 1997 Kyotoprotocol,
results are meagre and the problems have not been solved. Indeed, it has worsened as the
principles, targets and the timelines of both the Convention and the Protocol have made little headway.
The same big corporate interests, that are largely responsible for causing the climate crisis, appear to have
immense influence on climate policies at the national and global level. We strongly oppose this
undemocratic influence of corporate lobbyism in the current COP-negotiations. Contrary to this, we call
on states to put in place an appraisal mechanism for all policies and policy instruments under the
UNFCCC, to ensure inclusive and deliberative multi-stakeholder processes that repair existing inequalities
whether based on gender, colour, age, disability or other forms of discrimination in the COP-negotiations.
We demand of COP15 to reach an agreement that will initiate the restoration of the environmental, social
and economic balance of planet Earth by means that are environmentally, socially and economically
sustainable and equitable, and finally come up with a legally binding treaty.

Our demands

We are raising our voices to the leaders in the UNFCCC to put forward the people’s demands and

1. Phasing out fossil fuel: We call for a clear strategy for dismantling the fossil fuel era within
the next 30 years, which must include specific milestones for every 5-year period. We
demand an immediate cut in GHG emissions of industrialized countries of at least 40%
compared 1990 levels by 2020.

2. Reparations and compensation for Climate Debt and crimes: We demand full
reparations for southern countries and those impoverished by northern states, TNCs, and
tax-haven institutions. By this, we partly address historical injustices associated to
inequitable industrialization and climate change, originating in the genocide of indigenous
nations, transatlantic slave trade, colonial era and invasions. This must be accompanied by
an equally clear strategy for compensating impoverished people for the climate and broader
ecological debt owed by the enriched. A global and democratic fund should be established
to give direct support to the victims of climate change. Developed countries must provide
new, mandatory, adequate, and reliable financing and patent-free technologies to better
adapt to adverse climate impacts and undertake emission reductions. This would allow
developing countries to play their part in curbing climate change, while still meeting the
needs and aspirations of their people. International Financial Institutions, donor agencies
and trade mechanisms should have no part in reparations.

3. An immediate global ban on deforestation of primary forests and the parallel initiation
of an ambitious global tree-planting program based on native and diverse species in
partnership with indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities. Similarly a ban on
large-scale industrialized fishing methods and a return to primarily local and sustainable
fishing practices. Finally, a ban on land grabbing by foreign interests and the full acceptance
of people’s sovereignty over natural resources.

4. We express strong opposition to purely market-oriented and technology-centred false
and dangerous solutions put forward by many corporations, governments, and international
financial institutions. These include nuclear energy, agro-fuels, carbon capture and storage,
Clean Development Mechanisms, biochar, genetically “climate-readied” crops, geoengineering
and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as it is the
UNFCCC definition (REDD), which only produce new environmental threats, without
really solving the climate crisis. Carbon trading and offsetting are also false and unjust
instruments because they treat a common planetary resource – the atmosphere – as a
commodity that can be owned and traded. So far the system has not proven its merits, and
by allowing rich countries to offset their reduction obligations, it has maintained this unjust
and unsustainable system.

5. Equitable tax on carbon emissions: Instead of the regime of tradable emission quotas we
demand an equitable tax on carbon emissions. Revenues from this carbon tax should be
returned equitably to people, and a portion should be used to compensate and contribute to
finance adaptation and mitigation. This is, however, not a substitute for repayment of
already accumulated climate debt. This compensation and funding should be unconditional
and free of market mechanisms and financial institutions. Reduction of emissions must be
strongly encouraged by a briskly-increasing, transparent carbon tax, in addition to direct
regulations to drive the phase-out of fossil fuels, while enabling safe, clean and renewable

6. Multilateral institutions and TNCs: Unjust, unsustainable and unaccountable global
economic and financial institutions like the WTO, the World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), regional development banks, donor institutions and trade
agreements should be replaced by democratic and equitable institutions functioning in
accordance with the United Nations Charter, that respect people’s sovereignty over
resources, and promote solidarity between people and nations. A mechanism for strict
surveillance and control of the operations of TNCs should be created as well.

Finally, we commit ourselves to a full and active involvement in carrying our sustainable transitions
of our societies along the lines put forward in this Declaration.

1st draft

6. Roads to transition

Present power holders will not promote the type of sustainable transition outlined above. The drivers of such a transition will have to be social and environmental movements, who work at the local, national and transnational levels in an alliance with like minded political, economical and cultural organizations.

Despite the fact that the present power structures strongly favours unsustainable patterns of production and consumption it nevertheless is possible to embark on the road of sustainable transition even within the existing political and economical setting, while at the same time pressing for urgent reforms of the present system. And in fact, this is what many people are already doing all around the world. People are not only protesting against the present regime but are also on many levels actively engaged in trying to realize more sustainable ways of organising their lives and communities.

Many people are involved in the practical creation of more sustainable industry, agriculture, forestry, fishery as well as renewable energy sector. These initiatives within the production system have furthermore created alliances with other sectors of society, trade unions, retail shops, consumers, city dwellers, teachers, researchers etc., all of whom are striving towards a greener way of life.

In the further process forward we must build on these existing initiatives, embracing them all in forging a strong alliance towards a sustainable transition on the global scale. In doing this, we however also need to address the existing political and economical institutions of power. Incessantly we must push for fundamental reforms of the system – reforms that not only address the climate and broader environmental issue as separate issues, but on the contrary integrates environmental considerations in all political areas, such as agriculture, transport, industry, trade etc.

In this context we of course also need to address the specific UN negotiations on Climate Change, which is culminating in these days in Copenhagen. The lessons from previous rounds of negotiations are not very promising. Despite the high-profiled schemes for concerted action launched first in the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change of Rio de Janeiro and later in the 1998 Kyoto-protocol, results are meagre, to say the least. The problem has not fundamentally been solved, indeed it has worsened as the principles, targets and the timelines of both the Convention and the Protocol have made no headway. The reason for this rests on the fact, that the COP-process has not yet acknowledged the real roots of climate change: Globalisation and a profit-driven economy devoted to never ending growth at the expense of genuine development. This fact also holds for the negotiations at the present Climate Summit in Copenhagen, why the probable outcome seems very inadequate.

Nevertheless we must make our voices heard and put forward our demands also in this context. These can be stated clearly and plainly:

1. We demand a clear strategy for dismantling the fossil fuel era within the next 30 years.

2. We demand this strategy to be accompanied by an equally clear strategy for compensating the poor – especially in the south – for the climate and broader environmental debt created by the rich – especially in the north.

3. We express strong opposition against market-oriented and technology-centred false solutions put forward by many corporations, northern governments, and international financial institutions., especially the undue influence of corporate interests in the crafting domestic regulations related to energy. So-called technological ‘fixes’ such as nuclear energy, biofuels, carboncapture and storage, biochar, genetically “climate-readied” crops, geo-engineering, etc. only produce new types of environmental threats, without really solving the climate problem. The premise of emission trading is the granting of tradable property rights over the atmosphere, which is a common planetary resource essential for the survival of all beings. So far the system has not proven its merits, and by allowing rich countries to offset their reduction obligations, it has maintained the unjust and unsustainable system of the past.

4. We propose instead a political commitment to reintegrate our economies into the realm of our natural ecosystems, which are always local by nature. It is only within such a framework that it is possible to re-power our local communities, re-vitalize democratic participation and re-install a truly sustainable relation between man and nature.

5. Any solution, seeking to restore the balance between human society and nature as well as just relations among people, requires a profound reorganization of our societies towards meeting basic social goals with an awareness of planetary limits.

6. For this reason unjust, unsustainable and unaccountable global economic and financial institutions like the WTO, the World Bank, transnational corporations etc. should be disempowered in favour of local and national sovereignty over resources and productive assets.

7. We finally offer our full and active support and involvement in promoting a sustainable transition of our societies a long the lines put forward in this Declaration.

The declaration, final version

6. A global movement for sustainable transition

Irrespective of the outcome of the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change there is an urgent need
to build a global movement of movements dedicated to the long term task of promoting a
sustainable transition of our societies. Contrary to the prevailing power structures, this movement
must grow from the bottom and up. What is needed is a broad alliance of environmental
movements, social movements, trade unions, farmers, and other aligned parties that can work
together in everyday political struggle on the local as well as national and international level. Such an
alliance entails at the same time the creation of a new mindset and new types of social activisms, and
must be capable not only of reacting to unsustainable practices, but also showing by example how a
new sustainable economy can indeed function.We, participating peoples, communities and social organizations at Klimaforum09 are all committed
to build on the results achieved at this event in the further development of a global movement of

This Declaration aims to inspire the further development of such a movement by pointing to the
general direction in which we choose to move. Together, we can make global transitions to
sustainable future. Join us.

1st draft

7. A global movement for sustainable transition

Irrespective of the outcome of the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change there is a strong need to build a global movement of movements dedicated to the long term task of promoting a sustainable transition of our societies. Contrary to the prevailing power structures this movement must grow from the bottom and up – which means that it must be founded locally and be of importance to the daily life of people. Such a movement entails at the same time the creation of a new mindset and of a new type of social activism. This movement must be capable not only of reacting to unsustainable practices, but also by example show how a new locally based and sustainable economy can indeed function.

A movement of this sort cannot be based on environmental NGO’s of the classical type. What is needed is instead a broad alliance of environmental movements, social movements, trade unions, farmers, teachers etc. that can work together in the everyday political struggle on the local as well as the national and international level.

At Klimaforum09 many contacts of this kind have already been formed and we are all committed to build on the results achieved at this event in the further development of a global movement of movements that includes all spheres of society on all levels. It is our hope that this Declaration will inspire the further development of such a movement by spelling out the direction in which to move.

Finally at midnight your observer Tord Björk was allowed to touch the holy declaration tablet drafting a piece on urban planning

Oh good, drafting is not an easy task. Especially when trying to include what a french climate justice activist thinks about urban planning in 200 words into a short sentence. To not talk about including something on the spirit of being a human with fundamentalist secularists from France around.


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