On the bus to Bella Centre, I struck up a conversation with a charismatic elderly gentleman of American-Indian origin who was actively participating in COP15 as a member of indigenous people networks. He mentioned that he had been at war in Vietnam but had later reflected on his experiences and decided to change the way he lived his life. He had “decolonized” himself and was now here to join the global call for climate justice. I was delighted to meet someone with such a similar vision to mine.
With over 25,000 people in attendance, it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd, but I’ve found that meeting like-minded individuals from around the world is simple. Many people were still waiting in line at the Bella Center’s entrance for registration, and thousands more were expected to arrive in Copenhagen, including more than 110 heads of state. Despite the chaos, the large flat TV screen near the entrance that displayed Greenpeace campaign activities from around the world remained operational, including footage from an Indonesian climate defender camp.
After following the instructions to pass through the registration area and the ID badge checkpoint, I made my way to the NGO Climate Rescue Station, which had been transformed into a hub of activity for the COP15. It hosted events such as photo exhibitions, debates, and film screenings organized by organizations affiliated with the Global Campaign for Climate Action, as well as free coffee served every morning. I was excited to visit the Rescue Station after seeing pictures of it at the 2008 Poznan Climate Summit, and I couldn’t wait to see what was in store.
Short history of the station goes ;
In Poland 2008 the station was set up on the edge of one of the biggest open cast mine in Europe to protest the expansion of the mine and expose true cost of coal. Its position on the edge of the mine show how coal, the worst climate polluting of all fossil fuels, is driving our planet to the edge. Greenpeace activists join hundred of local people including town mayor threatened by the expansion of the pit mine to call for a clean energy revolution in Poland.
During COP14, the CRS moved to Poznan town square where it host a climate impacts exhibition and a concert platform by the British Symphonia Orchestra and speech by Yvo De Boer.
After Poland, the station moved to Madrid, Spain, where it was used by Greenpeace Spain as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations. The CRS hosted public exhibitions showing the impacts of climate change in Spain, and was used for concerts and political discussions. It was also used as an educational center to teach children about renewable energy.
At Glastonbury festival in the UK in June 2009, the station hosted exhibitions and was an information centre about Greenpeace UK’s campaign against third runway at Heathrow airport and against proposed new coal-fired power plants in the UK.
As I make my way through the bustling crowds at COP15, I catch sight of my Greenpeace colleagues just as the official opening of “Consequences” – a photo exhibition highlighting the devastating impacts of climate change – is about to begin. With Kumi Naidoo, the new Executive Director of Greenpeace International, in attendance, the atmosphere is electric.
As we marvel at the powerful and stunning photographs, Naidoo delivers an inspiring message, igniting our passion for the cause even further. I feel a sense of pride knowing that I’m part of a movement that’s dedicated to fighting for climate justice.
Later, I guide some Thai negotiators, NGO colleagues, and community members to a nearby smoking area where they can relax and take a breather from the tense and chaotic atmosphere inside. I tell them about the free coffee, and we make our way through the door and past the smokers.
Turning left, we see it – the Climate Rescue Station, a beacon of hope in the midst of the talking circus in the big hall. It’s a space where we can come together, share ideas, and take a break from the overwhelming events unfolding around us. I’m excited to see what other surprises await us at this COP15, and I know that with people like Naidoo leading the charge, we’re one step closer to achieving our goals.