Copenhagen – Dec 12-13, 2009 – Climate Demonstration
Posted by Frances Orchard CJ
The first massive demonstration in support of Climate Change took place on the Saturday afternoon at the end of week 1 of COP15. The march started from Christiansborg Slotsplads, a suburb of east Copenhagen, to the Bella Centre the large COP15 venue close to the airport. Thousands of people from across the world and more than 400 organisations joined together for this peaceful and colourful demonstration. The intention was to hold a candlelight vigil at the Bella Centre to impress upon the world leaders that the climate negotiations had to be urgent, just and ambitious.
NGOs at COP15 had been encouraged to leave the Centre and join the march, and it was clear from the fewer than usual number in the Centre that this call had been heard. I hesitated. Not simply because I had agreed to wait at the Centre for a delegate who was flying in from the States, but also because I am not much convinced in my maturer years that public demonstrations are as effective as mastering the subject matter and campaigning from within. However, on a subject as complex as Climate Change I had to admit that I had not mastered the subject matter and it therefore took little persuasion to join the demonstration. By this time this decision had been made I was faced with the probability of the demonstration coming to me and besieging me unwillingly in the Bella Centre. Lacking the temerity to join the front of the march led by the indigenous people– and appear to lead it as it swung it view – we very modestly took the metro under (or over) the marchers and joined the rear of the march at Christiansborg Slotsplads.
Even at the rear where the police had detained the anarchists and the drunks there was a carnival-like spirit to the march with many demonstrators dressed in outlandish costumes; children being pushed in buggies; Father Christmas’s (without their reindeer who were on strike because the climate was too warm) and everywhere the banners and placards with slogans such as ‘There’s no planet B’. The march ground to a halt about two kilometres from the Bella Centre. We could see the large wind turbine above the Centre in the distance, and with a solid mass ahead it was obvious that we were not going to get any closer. Without radio or TV contact we had no idea what was happening at the Bella Centre venue but hoped that the front part of the march managed to hold their candlelight vigil. Estimates of the numbers present ranged from the official total of 50,000 to the organisers total of 100,000. Feeling slightly less than heroic we slipped into the Sundby metro station and made our way back into the city.