By Tara Buakamsri
December 10, 2009
I landed at Kastrup airport of Copenhagen and checked Greenpeace website to discover that the Countdown to Copenhagen clock for the UN climate summit showed exactly 24 hours were left before the most important meeting in the history of mankind was to begin to find a way forward to deal with catastrophic climate change.
But I despaired when the first thing I noticed as I was leaving the airport were eye-catching billboards featuring ageing world leaders saying “I’m sorry, we could have prevented catastrophic climate change … we didn’t”.
I hoped that the leaders featured in the adverts, Lula of Brazil, Tusk of Poland , Brownof UK, Merkel of Germany, Sarkozy of France , Zapatero of Spain, Medvedev of Russia, Harper of Canada and Rudd of Australia will disprove these adverts produced by Greenpeace to remind them of their responsibility to the future generations and take the right decision to ensure a FAB (fair, ambitious and binding) deal for the climate and for all life on the planet.
Thousands of people have descended on Copenhagen for this unique summit (also known as the 15th Conference of Parties or COP 15 in short) and all hotels, hostels, accommodation even grounds turning into make shift accommodation for the thousands more expected to arrive in next few days. Fortunately I have a bed at a youth hostel where I am sharing the small room with 6 young members ofFriend of the Earth from Germany.
On the first day at the Bella Center, the venue of the climate summit, it was a kilometer-long queue of participants waiting for registration in freezing weather as negotiating teams, journalists from 192 countries arrive for the opening sessions, not to mention mass of NGOs and civil societies from all corners of the planet. The long queue is also allowing variety of campaigning groups to interact with those who stay in the line. Greenpeace’s Café with activists serving hot coffee and pushing FAB deal, big screen that is joint effort between Greenpeace and tcktcktck partner under neat Metro line and right in front of the entrance showing several video clips round the clock from morning until late evening. Video clips include features from climate defender camp in Sumatran forest at Kampar peninsular of Indonesia, climate impact in the pacific.
At the entrance, several groups are making their own voices heard; men and women in red – climate debt agent – holding banner reads “rich countries –pay your climate debt!” ; a usual show-up of supreme Master Ching Hai distributing “Be Veg, Go Green, Save the Planet” leaflets ; men and women with kangaroo puppet with the message blaming “Australian Coal” as the killer of the planet ; a COP of coffee – a free cup of coffee courtesy of the wind energy industry – have coffee bike that serve fresh coffee, cappuccino and chai tea to those who are on way to the entrance.
Coming a long way to Copenhagen – my first climate summit – I was not able to get register on the first day as my name is still waiting to include in the new list of Global Campaign for Climate Action(GCCA), I am amazed by looking at the whole compound of Bella Center from the metro elevated platform, with one big wind turbine behind and power plant pumping out smoke plume on the horizon, yes Greenpeace’s climate rescue station next to the building, I wish for the best, a fair, ambitious and binding deal. Otherwise, Copenhagen summit will be only a showcase of corporate-driven climate solutions and an ongoing political talk fest.
The countdown clock on UNFCCC website read zero. Talks begin under gloomy sky of Copenhagen.
December 11, 2009
KEEP TALKING…THE BOAT IS READY
I unfortunately missed the highlight on the first day when Leah Wickham – a young woman from Fiji speaking on behalf of more than 10 million people who signed tcktcktck petition calling for an immediate legally binding and Abigail Jabines – International Solar Generation Coordinator presenting Yvo De Boer UNFCCC Executive Secretary and Connie Hedegaard-new President of COP15 , Denmark’s famous lego bricks symbolizing building block for a Fair Ambitious and Binding deal. Wickham ended her speech that is being echoed by many in Copenhagen : “the time for talking is over and now it’s a time for action”.
Reading one line in the COP15 Post – the daily climate conference news published daily by CPHPOST.DK – It was amusing to hear Mr. de Boer’s rection to Leah wickham’s speech when he jocularly concluded his response with “…but I hope you will be a bit patient and give us two more weeks of talking and then we will deliver on the action…” Ah ha…
We know that in two weeks , there is a lot that needs to be discussed and decided upon. Starting from the the proposed GHG reduction targets for both the 2nd commitment period and beyond to whether the new agreement will be expanded to include GHG emissions from the international marine and aviation industry. Whether Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) will include the untested and expensive Carbon Capture and Storage technology. Whether the agreement will include measures to curb the rate of deforestation, especially of tropical rainforests in developing countries – known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and many more…but at the end of the day we do need leaders who act, not politicians who talk.
At the Central Station on my way back from Bella Center, I met up with team of young people who were handing out leaflets and inviting commuters to Klima Forum 09 – the civil society counterpart of the COP15 that represent ordinary concerned citizens from all around the world. I decide to go take a look as the venue DGI-Byen Copenhagen was only a short walking distance from the central station.
Aside from exhibits, workshop, talk, theatre and music organized there, I was most struck by a photo of a boat listing every single Climate Conference of Parties since 1992;
Earth Summit Rio de Janero, Brazil, 1992
CoP 1, Berlin, Germany, 1995
CoP 2 Geneva, Switzerland, 1996
Cop 3 Kyoto, Japan, 1997
CoP 4 Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1998
Cop 5 Bonn, Germany, 1999
CoP 6 The Hague, 2000
CoP 6+ Bonn, Germany, 2001
CoP 7 Marrakech, Morroco, 2001
CoP 8 New Delhi, India, 2002
CoP 9 Milan, Italy, 2003
CoP 10 Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2004
CoP 11 Montreal, Canada, 2005
CoP 12 Nirobi, Kenya, 2006
CoP 13 Bali, Indonesia, 2007
CoP 14, Poznan, Poland, 2008
CoP 15, Copenhagen, Denmark 2009
Yes, Mr. Boer, you get two weeks and no more…Enough is enough, it is clear the time for climate action is now.
“I was at war in Vietnam,” said the charismatic elderly gentleman of American-Indian origin, sitting next to me on the bus heading to Bella Centre. As a member of indigenous people networks actively participating in the COP15 he was heading for a TV interview at Klima Forum as we got chatting and he found out that I was from Bangkok and worked for Greenpeace. “But after one year of war , during my transition time in Hawaii, I reflected and decided to change the way I live my life and I went back to the ‘entrance’ of where I use to belong to, and sort of decolonized myself. Now I am here and join the global call for climate justice.”
Sometimes I feel lost in the massive crowd of over 25,000 people here in Copenhagen, but then it is very easy to meet up with like minded people from other parts of the world that I be friend and share our common vision. At the entrance of Bella Center, many people are still queuing in the long line waiting for registration. I am told that thousands more are inbound to Copenhagen and hopefully will include more than 110 heads of state. Security at the entrance is getting more and more stringent but what I like most at the entrance, is the big flat TV screen featuring Greenpeace campaign activities around the world including climate defender camp from Indonesia.
But today I was following instructions “…After passing through the registration area and the ID badge checkpoint, walk directly ahead past the cloakroom and through the exhibition area towards a set of double doors, above which is a banner advertising the NGO Climate Rescue Station. Push through the doors, turn left and the Climate Rescue Station will be in front of you. It’s there at the Bella Center…”
I have always wanted to see the Rescue station after if first saw the pictures at the Climate Summit in Poznan in 2008. At the Copenhagen Climate Summit it has become NGO Climate Rescue Station and host events throughout the period such as photo exhibitions, debates and film screenings organized by organizations that are part of the Global Campaign for Climate Action and free coffee served from the station every morning.
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.
Again I met many Greenpeace colleagues as the Official opening of “Consequences” – a photo exhibition of climate impacts the world is already suffering – about to start. I also had the opportunity to see Greenpeace International’s new Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo and his inspiring speech about the powerful and stunning photos.
I introduced one of Thai negotiator, some of Thai NGOs colleagues and community member to this area saying that “well, it’s a smoking area and you can get free coffee, please come and relax from a very tense and chaotic atmosphere inside”
It’s true. Once we push through the door, pass through many smokers and turn left it’s right there in front of you – the climate rescue station that at least can be rescues me from talking circus in the big hall.
December 16, 2009
Two police and military helicopters hovered in the clear blue sky over Christiansborg Slotsplads (Parliament Square) where over 100,000 people were gathering to mark the Global Day of Climate Action in Copenhagen that was unfolding in more than 130 countries around the world demanding world leaders seal a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate deal.
At noon, temperature dropped to 2 degree Celsius as I headed toward the square where I had to wait until 2.00 PM before the march to the Bella Center started. In the largely European crowd, I joined the 200 Greenpeace volunteers wearing light green jacket that read “Act Now, Change the Future”, some holding placards with different messages, a giant floating snowman and a floating globe in a lifebuoy led by the fascinating Samba Drum – the coolest Greenpeace volunteer team of the day.
“Let’s stick with them so that we won’t get lost” I told Topsi – former Greenpeace action coordinator from Thailand who is now studying for her master degree student in Germany and came over here to attend COP15 on behalf of University of Freiburg. When we reached the Drum lned I started jumping up and down together with others.
I have been to several forms of demonstration and protest for more than 20 year of activism, aside from the most memorable and hard-core clean-up action in Bhopal, India, this was the biggest climate demonstration I have ever joined. Around the world over 500 organizations took part of it. It ranged from environmental, development, faith, labor, youth and political groups. Here in Copenhagen demonstration organizers included Greenpeace, Oxfam, 350.org, Avaaz, IndyAct, ActionAid, DanChurch Aid, WWF Denmark, Climate Justice Action, Socialist People’s Party Youth, The Danish Social Democratic Youth, Enhedslisten (Red/Green Alliance) and People’s Climate Action.
On the stage before the really started, speakers were giving inspiring speeches to warm up demonstrators. The most memorable speeches were by Helena Christensen-Danish-Peruvian Model and Photographer, Kumi Naidoo – Greenpeace International Executive Director, Rahul Bose –Bollywood actor and Global Ambassador for Oxfam and Vandana Shiva-eco feminist. Around 2 pm. The rally started moving from Parliament Square across the bridge. At Nyhavn port, not far from the bridge I could see Greenpeace ship’s Arctic Sunrise that has been anchored in Copenhagen from beginning of Climate Summit as part of the big Greenpeace family to help in pushing the delegates to really achieving a legally binding agreement that is really needed. One big banner on board read “Politicians Talk, Leaders Act”.
From the bridge, I kept walking, dancing and holding “Climate Justice NOW” placard together with the Samba Drums gang to Chistainia area. More people join the march. Then moving slowly to Tingvij/Frankrigsgade. It was about 4.30 pm and dark already when the first part of the rally reached Sundby area where I can see 1 Megawatt Wind Turbine operating behind the Bella Center.
Outside the Bella center, the stage cut across the road. Reported from Wanun Permpiboon – one of Thai colleague who has been helping Thai Negotiating Team inside the Bella Center “It was wonderful to see human sea of light bringing a message of hope and solidarity, most of people in the room stop discussion and came out to see it on the screen”.
Civil Society team from Thailand had also join the rally with other groups. They told the other day that rally at the front was moving so fast and made an enough space for police to “seal-off” some protesters from the march. On that day, police has arrested several hundred activists.
I was with Greenpeace activists in the march all the time. As speakers on the stage went to Bella Center handing over the ship sails to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo De Boer, all Greenpeace volunteer got in the bus heading to Greenpeace warehouse for dinner and debrief.
I took on Greenpeace inflatable from warehouse to where Arctic Sunrise is anchored then took the bus to Danhostel Bellahoj, Topsi who stay with other 200 volunteers sent a short message “Samba Drum start playing now for volunteer party”. I missed it.
December 17, 2009
Late morning on Sunday, Penchom Tang and Kingkorn Narinthon Na Ayutthaya- Thai Working Group for Climate Justice’s colleagues asked me to help taking community leaders from Thailand to participate in “Hit the Production” action conducted by Climate Justice Now! “Hit the Production” Action will target the harbour with a mass blockade as the global shipping industry is at the heart of capitalism, a key symbol of an industrial System that is based on grow and the use of fossil fuels.
“Yes, I can” I said.
Later on the idea was called off because it was high risk-taking and arrests were possible for Thai communities members. Unfortunately, all of them were not get used to outdoor activity under extreme cold weather. As they realized that Thailand’s Environment Minister-Khun Suvit Khunkitti has already in town ahead of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai community leaders then want to meet with him.
On December 8, 2009 representatives of Thai civil society met with PM Abhisit and already submitted its recommendation on the Thai Government’s positions towards Copenhagen climate summit and related national policy formulation concerning that the outcome of Copenhagen climate change negotiations is likely to affect Thailand and Thai citizen, especially communities currently fighting to gear changes to some of the government policies such as the fight against right and forest uses, rights and land use, agro industries, national energy plan that emphasizes on the use of fossil fuels and the promotion of energy intensive industries like steel industry.
The Klima Forum was our meeting point. I met with 7 community leaders from Northern, Eastern, North-eastern, Central and Southern part of Thailand along with 5 Thai NGOs activists and followed them to Marriott Hotel where Environment Minister stayed. We use the hotel lobby area greeting and talking to him. Discussion has been basically about concern over position of the Thai Government related to unfolding outcome of negotiations here in Copenhagen.
“We know that our recommendation paper will not be recognized even it already handed over to Prime Minister directly. To ensure that our voices being heard it was a good idea to touch base with Khun Suvit and will be much better if we can meet up with PM Abhisit here” Said Thai NGOs colleague.
It is clear that, according to summary outcome of Thai Cabinet meeting on 10th of November 2009, on mitigation, Thailand is standing for 1) “legally binding commitment” for developed countries base on economic-wide reduction commitment for second commitment period (2013-1017) and by 2020 taking into account historical responsibility, national capacity in measurable, reportable and verifiable manners. 2) “Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action” for developing countries on voluntary basis and based on sustainable development with financial flow, technology transfer and capacity building supported by developed countries.
Thailand has been clearly wanted to keep the spirit of Kyoto alive. But it is a big question mark as negotiations is being slow progress and some controversies are being put on the table here in Copenhagen like proposals to allow money from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to be used for nuclear power and carbon capture and storage(CCS). Even among G77 group, these controversies persistently remained.
I heard that in the Thai Negotiating Team, some delegates are coming from industry (Federation of Thai Industry and Petroleum Authority of Thailand) and civil society has been often raising the issue of participatory process in this regard. How does industry in Thailand get in there? What about civil society? The answer that we have is that because industry is one of the most important stakeholders in the climate negotiations.
All Multilateral Environmental Agreements negotiations should stand for benefit of the whole country and its people, not for corporate greed.
At COP15 I have heard and learned how negotiation process works and how the participation from civil society at all aspects is so important to keep our own government and politicians on track. The bigger concerns over climate change among ordinary Thai people, the better Thai negotiation team has to do the job in a more transparent and democratic manners.
At the beginning of second week of negotiations, it came out that big chuck of INGOs/NGOs will not be allowed to get in the Bella Center. I can see as there are many thousand NGOs and civil society here. But what’s wrong with that? To me that is undemocratic fashion no. 1 of the UNFCCC.
News spread around the center after developing countries led by African group withdrew the cooperation. “It has become clear that the Danish presidency is advancing the interests of the developed countries at the expense of the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries. The mistake they are doing now has reached levels that cannot be acceptable from a president who is supposed to be acting and shepherding the process on behalf of all parties” according to BBC news.
Combined with a suspension forced by the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu that insisting on proposals to amend the UN climate convention and Kyoto Protocol be debated in full. Those were undemocratic fashion no. 2
I walked through where Environment Minister Suvit Khunkitti standing with the rest of his team and greeted with one of his advisor. I heard from Thai NGOs colleague saying that he was also walking out and backing African group’s position.
This was supposed to be my last chance to track Thai negotiating team from inside. I won’t get the secondary badge for sure. I chatted with Yuyun Greenpeace political team from Southeast Asia, he smiled “I am more than happy not to get the second badge ( mean I want to get out of here!!!)”
December 18, 2009
“We want Copenhagen to not be remembered as a ‘Flopenhagen’, we want a Hopenhagen.”
That was the closing remark of Kumi Naidoo – Greenpeace International Executive Director at the side event on the 1st day of the COP15 to demand the Fair, Ambitious, Binding deal to the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen.
Everywhere in the Danish capital, on the bus, train, metro, billboard, and in the newspaper I see the eye-catching advertisement “Hopenhagen”. It was being invented as a gimmick to show the engagement of Copenhageners with climate change and the global call to action during a two-week long climate summit.
“Hopenhagen” is part of hundreds of the official COP15 cultural events that range from indoor an outdoor exhibitions, designs, crafts, architectures, galleries, art projects, films, songs, and many more that can be checked out at www.cop15culture.com
It was really overwhelming.
At one moment, after the global day of climate action on Saturday 12th of December 2009 that has been put in the record of Denmark’s modern history – the biggest peaceful demonstration, I was wondering how COP15 and these related events will be a maximum impact politically, socially and culturally to people here in Denmark.
Ironically, I can get back to that question when looking at “Hopenhagen” advertisement poster at one bus stop that is sponsored by Coca Cola, the letter “S” was written down and read “Shopenhagen”!!! Another one sponsored by Siemens, there was a short sentence “Our climate, not your business!”
“I got on the COP15 bus at midnight from Bella Center to my place and heard the bus driver complain that it was so terrible because trouble makers around the world were here!!! “. Wanun Permpiboon, also on the bus, who has been helping the Thai negotiating team on adaptation text together with G77 parties, said “So I talked to myself that oh well, I am one of them.”
After UNFCCC has been restricted to NGOs and civil society participants inside Bella Center, “Hopenhagen” was really turning into “Flopenhagen”. While my roomates, one from Kenya and another one from Kiribati, rested on their beds frustrated as they couldn’t get inside the meeting, I was running around at Klima Forum-the People Summit to check e-mail and meet up with NGOs colleagues.
The big idea of a Copenhagen treaty (based on the spirit of Kyoto Protocol) to replace one from Kyoto is already in bad shape as Danish Prime Minister eliminated the option even before the conference began. Even climate celebrities like Former Vice President Al Gore were speaking of a watered down climate deal – NOT WHAT THE WORLD WANTS AND NEEDS, “…At Copenhagen, we have to have a binding political agreement that the major countries – both developed and developing – sign on to,” he said in an interview with Danish newspaper, Politiken.
If it is true that world leaders agree that a legally binding climate deal seems beyond reach this year in Copenhagen, Al Gore is no better than other politicians loking for the line of least resistance, rather than what the science and people demand. His message in Copenhagen was really disgusting.
My Thai colleague Topsi and I were also very glad to meet with Sven Teske – Greenpeace’s [e]nergy revolution legendary. We invited him to visit the Arctic Sunrise to get a hot meal to ward off the cold biting Copenhagen winter – spicy Thai noodles – and a couple of low-cost beers arranged by a Thai volunteer and the crew on board.
“I wanna take out the bracket from “E” in our next energy revolution report” said Sven “I think our partners (European Renewable Energy Council-EREC) will agree.”
“Is it something you want to say about ongoing negotiations inside Bella Center” I was jokily asking.
Sven told me that the next mission on energy revolution is to make it for 350 ppm scenario. “then that’s enough for me”.
We got off the Metro at Chistianhavn Station and walked across the bridge toward the Arctic Sunrise. We flopped in there as she is our real “Hopenhagen”.
On December 16 as Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now activists planned to enter the COP15 venue and stage “People’s Assembly”, the access has been highly restricted. Metro station at the Bella Center was closed. More barricades and defensive wall were put around the area.
Thai community member woke up very early morning and were joining the rally started from Sundby area. Khun Srisuwan Khaunkajorn – senior activists from Thailand and I were suppose to join them in front of the Bella Center. We took S train from central station and stop over Orestad station and walked from there. It was only access to the COP15 venue for all delegates.
At the entrance at noon I met with Emmy Hafild – former Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia-who came out from inside in hurry.
“Hi Tara, nice to see you again” greeted Emmy. I already met her inside Bella Center two days ago. She got the pink badge that represents Indonesian delegate. She was about to leave for Jakarta “I got to go home now.”
Two word that Emmy described to me what happened inside the COP15 ; “Chaos” and “disaster”
“When the marchers reached the Bella Center, the police informed them through a megaphone in English and some other European languages that I did not understood. The police chose to break up the demonstration even though our activists had signaled not to try to enter the conference venue after all, instead staging a gathering outside.” Reported from Penchom Tang – Thai Working Group for Climate Justice who accompanied other Thai activists to the rally.
“Demonstrators in the front line were then pepper-sprayed and beaten with batons. Some tried scaling fences, climbing over police vans and even using flotation devices to cross a canal surrounding the venue.” Continued Penchom.
I was blocked by the police as trying to follow a couple of hundred delegates marching out of the Bella Center to join the demonstration. I heard that some were also beaten back with batons by the police.
The situation had settled down by early afternoon, we phoned Thai team in the really to check their safety. About 230 people were arrested.
“I am glad that Thai activists are safe” Said Khun Srisuwan after hearing that they already gone back to the place they stay -the stadium outside Copenhagen.
By Thursday, an access has been more restricted with no more than 1,000 civil society representatives allowed in the Bella Center and down to only 90 on the final day of the conference.
It heated a collective of 50 NGOs to UNFCCC to write an open letter to executive secretary Yvo de Boer and COP15 president Lars Løkke Rasmussen as Connie Hedegaard has already resigned.
The letter said “It is unacceptable that civil society observers should be limited in this forum, and we hope that the UNFCCC Secretariat will recognise and reverse this undemocratic action. The negotiations under the UNFCCC/Kyoto Protocol framework have a huge and increasing impact on the lives of ordinary people all over the world. Their participation in the climate negotiations as members of civil society is absolutely crucial for ensuring that the Copenhagen outcomes are both just and effective,” the letter reads. It argues that the proposed restrictions are a breach of legal obligations to ensure public participation in the negotiations. If civil society voices are marginalised now, they will be marginalized in the final outcome.”
I talked to Wanun Permpiboon – who got the pink badge – over phone as she was still inside the Bella Center. “If you got pink badge you can get inside but to get into the plenary you have to have “gold card” badge and “platinum card” badge for Friday.” She said excitingly.
There has been snowing since Wednesday night. All Copenhagen landscape turned white. I was on the bus no 250S to Gladsaxe Stadium outside Copenhagen’ city center with Khun Amarit(Mum) – news reporter from Thailand’s Public Broadcasting Service (TPBS) who came over here last Saturday to document and report back home.
As Kilma Forum and Øksnehallen – the new place of civil society and NGOs gathering- were packed with people on Thursday night and because of super cold weather, I decided to head back with Khun Amarit.
It was in the evening period in which most of the Head of State have arrived and the Gala Dinner hosted by the Queen at Christainsborg Slot was about to begin.
Watching COP15 news report from one of the Danish TV channel at kitchen area of Gladsaxe Statdium’s dormitory, I was very excited to see breaking news of Greenpeace convoy with fake Head of State made it to the red carpet at the gala diner of the queen!!!! And banners with ‘politicians talk, leaders act’.
It has been repeating so many times on that TV channel. It rocked.
I also watched live TV broadcast that the Queen of Denmark delivered and ended her keynote address at the Gala Dinner “…it is our hope, the driver in the tomorrow as you leave Copenhagen, you have achieved positive and convincing results as an outcome of COP15 conference. I wish you all the best of luck.”
Aside from red carpet Head of State action, there was live debate on that TV channel where the moderator was asking question to Debaters – Kavin Rudd Australian Prime Minister, Ms. Buyelwa Sonjica South African Environment Minister, Mohamed Nasheed President of Maldives, Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa President of Mexico and representative of EU – as well as invited audiences to take the floor. One of audiences was Kumi Naidoo – Greenpeace International Executive Director who addressed on global action for Fair Ambitious and Binding deal.
Another audiences who took the floor was Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aiping, Chief Negotiator of G77 who referred to Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s letter that was written to all leaders saying – better no deal than bad deal-. “the fundamental of this deal are extremely flawed” he ended.
Then Mohamed Nasheed quickly responded “We are in G77 and we want an agreement from Copenhagen and we do not agree with that viewpoint at all. We have to have agreement. There are so many bloc and they are obsolete and outdated dated back to the cold war. We have different set of problem. This negotiation is not taking care of the outcome”
The moderator also put question “It is fair to say there will not be a full complete international binding treaty in Copenhagen, so what next” and asked Kavin Rudd to respond.
It was very ugly.
“…It’s just one part” said Kevin Rudd when referred to pledges from US and some other developed nations to assist poor nations in coping and adapting to climate change. “Wherever how far we go, there will be a lot to do in the next round of negotiation. I believe that under Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa’s chairmanship we can conclude the deal”
Moderator asked the President of Mexico “Do you think on year from now, you will be hosting the meeting like this in Mexico”
Calderón said “I hope it’s different”
Moderator continued asking “ Should the world leaders stay here in Copenhagen try to reach agreement or should they pull off to Mexico a year from now?”
“We need to do anything in a couple of day in order to reach an agreement, anyway what we want to do is to start a new negotiating process after Copenhagen in order to reach a binding treaty. We are going to ask anybody, American, Chinese to put on table to reach an agreement. This is the only world we do have and we do not have much time left” Concluded Calderón.
Mederator then asked Ms. Buyelwa Sonjica – South African Environment Minister “From African point of view, should we hammering it now or regrouping in Mexico”
“Legally binding is possible here in Copenhagen, it’s just need leadership to resolve that kind of outcome” Stressed Buyelwa.
Same question gone to EU representative and he said “We need an agreement now. We need to put in legislation probably in 6 months. We already have progressive legally binding treaty in EU. If we don’t get an agreement now, we cannot agree on financing. We need to start action now. We don’t have much time”
The last respond was taken by Mohamed Nasheed “World leaders are capable in coming up with an agreement in Copenhagen. It can still happen tomorrow. We cannot hope for the deal to Mexico. It will be going on and on”
To me, it was an awesome TV debate. As one of Greenpeace activist here in Copenhagen, we are right on the top line message that being circulate on the climate-energy list;
“Industrialised countries have brought climate talks to the brink of collapse by refusing to accept deeper greenhouse gas emissions cuts or provide adequate funding for developing country action and adaptation.
Anger over this failure to take the lead has led to developing countries suspending work on several occasions and created divisions between the vulnerable countries who are fighting for their survival and the emerging economies who want to hold industrialized countries to account but are afraid they themselves will be unfairly forced to take legally binding targets.
World leaders arriving in Copenhagen, especially Obama, Merkel, Sarkozy and Brown must take control of this shambolic situation. They must lead and deliver us a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal to avert climate chaos.”
It was really cold on Friday late evening. After the “climate shame” photo shoot I left Oksnehallen Hall in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro district – the alternative venue given to NGOs, civil society and observers by the Danish Foreign Minister in response to the restricted access at the Bella Center. It’s equipped with television links to the Bella Center until the end of COP15.
Walking from Oksnehallen Hall to city hall square (Radhuspladsen) to the end of Kongens Nytorv shopping street – quite a long walk – I was stopping at “100 places to remember before they disappear” – an outdoor photo exhibition hosted by CO+Life and Care Denmark showing 100 places on earth that are in danger of disappearing within the next few generation due to climatic changes and other human influences on the environment.
The backdrop to the photo exhibition was a large billboard on the building of the European Environmental Agency that read “Bend the Trend !”
The graph on the billboard showed the Copenhagen Climate Summit as a moment in history. It showed an increase in Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) and average global temperatures from 1970 to 2050. In the middle was marked “COP15 today” then an upward arrow, the result of “Doing Nothing More” which will bring us to climate change havoc and a downward arrow of “Acting Ambitiously Together” that will keep far below 2 degree – the safe level scientists say will prevent dangerous climate change.
I understood why it’s called “Bend the Trend” and was not so sure the outcome from the last day of negotiations will achieve this. I recalled the latest update e-mail from Greenpeace International Political team;
“…The Copenhagen Climate Summit has been on the calendar for two years. That the leaders of the rich world have turned up here with empty rhetoric and even emptier pockets beggars belief. This is particularly reprehensible given the pledges made by developing countries to curb their emissions. There are only a couple of hours left to put this right.
It is not FAIR to expect poor countries to shoulder the burdens created and ignored by the industrialized world.
It is not AMBITIOUS if rich countries refuse to make the deep cuts that science and historical responsibility demands.
It is not LEGALLY BINDING if the final agreement consists of hopes, dreams and wishes rather than commitments under international law.
Time is almost up. Will this day be remembered as the day the rich world took a giant step towards averting climate chaos, or will it go down in history as the day the death warrants of millions were signed…”
At the outdoor photo exhibition I saw a very famous floating market.
Yes, Bangkok where I live is one out of a hundred places to remember before they disappear !!! – the photo title read “the Sinking City of Angles”. The photo was not actually of Bangkok, rather either “Samut Sakhon” or “Samut Songkram” – provinces close to Bangkok.
The photo caption read ; “Home to hundreds of Buddhist temples and tiny canals, a multitude of street vendors, thousands of skyscrapers, an elevated urban sky train and a brand new airport, Bangkok is a tropical metropolis where the traditional East meets the modernity of the West…..”
“…Located in one of Asia’s “mega deltas” and only two meters above sea level, Bangkok is massively exposed to flooding, especially during the monsoon season. This is compounded by the fact that the city is sinking due to the soft soils, heavy urbanization and excessive pumping out of groundwater. Some estimates suggest that the whole city is subsiding by as much as 5 cm a year…”
“All these conditions make the Thai capital particularly vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. Any increase in extreme storm surges would erode the coastal area and cause severe flooding. Salt water intrusion could also seriously affect supplied of drinking water…”
“Unless urgent steps are taken, large part of Bangkok could be under water before the end of century” ended the caption.
I was totally freezing. I repeatedly asked myself “how can I make a difference here”. What comes out from the negotiations in the Bella Center expected to be really disappointing. This is also what I felt in my heart. What I got from Copenhagen is a feeling of anger. Yes, I was proud of being part of historic global day of climate action. But at this point it might not be enough to “Bend the Trend” or “Seal the Deal”.
I was sort of agreeing with Maldives’s President who said “You cannot negotiate with mother nature”. I strongly believe that when we are at the frontier of environmental destruction or in the frontline of climate crisis, we as human beings can turn it into an opportunity.
I have committed myself to take more positive action back at home in Thailand, not only with Greenpeace to which my activist heart belongs, but also as an ordinary citizen, father of two children and a husband. It is where “climate action, solutions and justice” begins.