Post COP reflections: support activists still locked up in Denmark

Well we're back from Copenhagen. Some of us at least: reports are still coming in that while some people were deported for such crimes as carrying a Leatherman, others were locked up for holding a small cloth roughly the size of a hand towel somewhere in the vicinity of the great and the good.

The list of those detained or deported is growing - the convergence space where I queued for the coach had a special bit of wall for notes from the deported to their friends (mostly 'get my stuff'). It's criminal that the unelected lobbyists and fully-elected arseholes that conjured up this so-called deal on the back of a napkin have their mugs in the paper while the real heroes - those who took action to stop the world going to hell in a handbasket - are facing Christmas in jail.

Greenpeace UK has asked people to write to the Danish PM and whinge like hell about the detentions. They've got one of those standard template letter things, but you can modify it, perhaps to include the name of a friend, or to widen your objection to include those deported (including the foreign correspondent of the Spanish equivalent of the BBC, sent home for filming outside the Bella Centre while wearing full press credentials).

It's probably about as worthwhile as getting all the world's leaders in one place to solve a problem they created, but it's better than sinking into post-action despair. Actually, the best thing to do if you're living in Blighty would be to go blockade the Danish Embassy until they let everyone go... but it is snowing, after all.

Post-COP reflections: we gotta take the power back


Imagine 74 people are trapped in a pub and this pub starts to go up in flames. Meanwhile, 26 people stand on the outside smoking. A couple of them see smoke coming from out a window. They tell the others and start discussing how best to stop the fire, who should do it, or even how they should treat the wounds of those who are inside.

They’re all very hesitant to go near the fire because they may get burnt and so take their time talking about it so they don’t have to do anything themselves. The pub burns down, with the 74 people inside, and then it spreads, if not actually killing all of the remaining 26 people then burning down their houses and destroying their way of life.

For me, although massively simplified, (the person who started the fire should have also been outside, for instance), this was the Copenhagen summit that has been going on for the last two weeks. After an awful lot of talk, we're no closer to a strong deal to secure the future of this planet and its inhabitants than we were with the Kyoto protocol in 1997.

For me, this demonstrates the impotence of the current political system and affirms and justifies my belief that grassroots movements and direct action are the best tools that we have to stop this world from going up in flames. The world’s political leaders have been talking up Copenhagen as the solution to catastrophic climate change for months now, and if it has failed - and no amount of spin can make it seem like anything but - then their plans for tackling climate change are in disaray.

They have had their chance, and now it’s ours. Those proper political channels that we have been urged to adopt so often have well and truly failed us. By failing to reach a deal at Copenhagen, politicians have abidcated their responsibility for solving the problem. It's up to us now; it's time to take the power back.

Why aviation decisions this week will be a COP out


Cop 15 is a talking shop of the world's power elite, which is going to produce a 'deal' that will make a lot of bankers rich through trading pollution permits. What would a 'good deal' for aviation look like? Well there are some progressive ideas on the table from the Least Economically Developed Countries, who clearly have the most legitimacy.

A global levy on flights might be a good start, with the proceeds going into an adaption fund for the most vulnerable people. But it would probably need to be administered by someone other than ICAO - the former aviation industry bosses who currently run the international body responsible for aviation at the Climate Change talks who have presided over an unprecedented rise in emissions from flying.

The most radical proposal with any chance of success is the EU's one for +37% increase in aviation emissions by 2020. Which when you consider that the UK is supposedly committed to an 80% cut in all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is ridiculous.

Nobody should rely on the talks at COP15 to sort anything out; what really matters is what happens on the ground with new runways, motorways, coal fired power stations and the rest- which ordinary people have the power to change.

Good COP, bad COP: politicians in Copenhagen have no authority

In the second of our debates around the COP15, Richard explains why he believes the politicians in Copenhagen cannot (and will not) sign an equitable deal and why the climate crisis is just a symptom of the larger crisis in capitalism.

In swanky rooms in the Danish city of Copenhagen, powerful people are deciding the world's future. They're thrashing out a deal which, they say, will prevent climate change from destroying our way of life. They talk of global equity; of the West helping the South to develop sustainably; of pulling together against a common climatological foe. They talk, and we should listen, right, because they're all so very, very important.

These people - our elected representatives - are liars and thieves and their solution, a complex web of carbon trading, offsetting and battening down the hatches, is not about solving climate change. It is a naked attempt to exploit a clear and present danger to cement their power at our expense.

We saw this on day two of the COP15 conference, when a secret agreement between "the circle of commitment" leaked into the open. It sought to bind the world's inhabitants into a two-tier emissions framework, with privileged Westerners getting double the carbon ration of the majority of the world's population.

This attempt to embed carbon imperialism and divide the world permanently into emits and emit-nots is just the latest in a long line of reasons to reject the COP15 outright. Another, more congenital problem is that those at the summit cannot solve climate change because they are the ones who caused it.

The conference-goers are committed to going only so far as is compatible with economic growth; entrenching the root cause of climate change and global inequity: free-market globalised capitalism. Their solutions rest on an economic and political system built on the exploitation of the planet and the people who inhabit it.

They'd have you believe that everything will be ok if we just internalise the climate costs: place a price on air and so it can be traded like a cheap bauble in a bazaar. But this just validates their pollution: they bought it, they can break it. While the Maldives and Tuvalu sink beneath the waves and millions of Bangladeshis are displaced by flooding, the global elite is opening up a new market for financiers to gamble with for short-term gain. Just as money is no use to an indigenous tribe forced from their land by illegal logging, what will we buy once they've rendered the world uninhabitable?

Look around you. The rush to create wealth for the very few at the expense of the rest of us has poisoned our seas, polluted our air, chopped down our forests and forced millions off their land and into indentured slavery at the hands of faceless global corporations. The politicians putting pen to paper slaughtered hundreds of thousands overseas in their quest for oil; support the cruellest of dictators if it smoothes the way for business; lecture us on 'doing our bit' while our taxes pay their mortgages; fiddled their expenses while the gap between rich and poor grew ever wider.

Throughout history people in power have taken every opportunity to put themselves first and to exploit every situation to their advantage. What makes you think they've suddenly changed?

Good COP, bad COP: COP15 process must produce a global deal

As activists from across Europe descend on Copenhagen, Plane Stupid takes a few minutes to consider some very different reactions to the COP15. Here, Howard discusses why he is relucantly putting his faith in the politicians and decision makers and joining the Climate Justice Fast throught the COP15 conference.

I've chosen to defend the COP15. It's not going to be easy. I decided to defend the official process because I believe that a globally binding treaty offers the best chance of avoiding catastrophic climate events.

The infrastructure and resources at the disposal of global leaders is enormous and our situation requires that they utilise these for the benefit of all and take action immediately. My scientist friends tell me that without such action there is no chance of stopping runaway chaos. Where does that leave our kids?

I do find it particularly difficult to trust our leaders; throughout my life they've repeatedly let me down. I am dismayed by their injustices, their lies, their propaganda and their greed, so why should this time be any different? It's simple: this is the first time since COP3 in 1997 that a global agreement on suitable action can be reached.

However greedy or just plain sick these politicians really are, they too have kids and they know what will happen to them if they fail. They would have to be really, really stupid to miss this opportunity for change. In prior negotiations the rich nations would just muscle their way through and continue to exploit the poor but this time that's a bit different. Climate change is a global issue and unilateral action isn't going to mean much if everyone else is burning coal. There has to be an immediate global accord for everyone's sake.

The developing nations that are already suffering climate genocide have had enough and this time around we need everyone to play ball or we're all screwed! Most importantly, we should never discount our own ability as activists and campaigners to force the issue and demand political change. We cannot allow this conference to be a continuation of business as usual, so we've got to put our skills to good use and use a variety of tactics to exert considerable pressure on the politicians and generate as much public support as we are able.

The passionate Tuvalu protests at Copenhagen yesterday where activists from all over the world joined together in solidarity with several tiny nations was surely a sign of things to come during the rest of the negotiations. We must keep the pressure up and force our representatives to adopt a new equitable and sustainable approach.

I'm not putting all my eggs in the COP15 basket. Over the past few years I have devoted more and more time to sustainable community work and carbon literacy in my community. I believe that a global political agreement is essential it is only half the picture; we also need a rapid cultural shift away from the crazy consumer lifestyle which doesn't bring lasting happiness.

I believe that we've got to demand change at every level. I've chosen to join the Climate Justice Fast during the COP to call upon both the world leaders and all people, everywhere, to make the changes we need.

Al Gore v Lord Monkton in COP15 rap-off... oh yes

It's Friday, you're stuck at work, and probably wishing you weren't. So sit back, put your feet up and watch Al Gore battle it out against his arch-Nemesis Lord Monkton of Scepticshire, the only way they know how: a rap-off.