Montag, 14. Dezember 2009

Copenhagen sees climate movement coming of age - finally

I have been waiting for a day like Saturday at least since July 21st 2001. Then, I was as happy as I could have been, to have brought several thousands to the streets of Bonn to build a ´Lifeboat for the Climate´. The G8 summit was happening at the same time in Genoa, so most activists were further south. Hence, we considered this an excellent turnout. Still, ever since that day - at least - I have been dreaming of a true mass mobilization against the climate catastrophe. For some years, that aim seemed to allude us. I attended plenty of civil society meetings all over the world on "building a climate movement". But while UN climate negotiations were bogged down in technical detail, it was a tad difficult to explain why people should wave placards on the streets while rules for LULUCF were being decided (though they are darn important). Sure, tens of thousands turned out against coal plants recently, for example, and the global Climate Action Days have been growing in significance over time. But even the climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, that launched the treck to Copenhagen two years ago, was no site of mass mobilizations. - So, to arrive in Copenhagen on Saturday to be absorbed by a crowd of 100,000 (or so) felt truly special. The crowd was big - and it was wonderfully diverse too. It couldn´t quite match the diversity of the anti war march in London in 2003 (still the most impressive demonstration I have been part of). But for a climate rally (and I must have been to hundreds of those by now), the crowd was special. Global. Young. Determined. Heartening. The size of the crowd made finding ones friends difficult. But walking among strangers, I had a smile on my face. I was delighted that there were so many activists I had never seen. That this was not yet another gathering of the usual suspects, but the coming of age of a whole new climate movement. Hopefully, the demo was the initiation rite for many who will stay active from now on. Hopefully, the same spirit of diversity and strength was present at the unprecedenteed number of events around the world. - We do, of course, not know yet, whether we will get the "real deal" that the demos demanded. Much of what´s been talked about in the corridors of Copenhagen is nowhere near the kind of agreement the world needs. But at least the negotiations are real. There is real talk, a real sense of pressure. Normally, the first week of climate talks just meanders along frustratingly. But this time - not least due to the powerful intervention by Tuvalu - the talks have gotten down to substance - and politics - right away. Will it be enough? I confess, I have my doubts. Even the voice of 100,000 - and more - may yet be ignored. But still elated from that fine Saturday, I cannot but hope that Desmond Tutu´s prediction will be proven right: "They marched in Berlin and the wall fell. We marched in Cape Town and apartheid fell. We marched in Copenhagen and we are going to get a real deal!" - Certainly, what we got in Copenhagen is a climate movement. Let´s nurture it. Let´s continue to build it. Let´s make sure it is ready to force implementation if we get a deal in Copenhagen. And be ready to raise hell, if our so called leaders fail us - yet again.

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