Slater's blog from Copenhagen
Friday, December 18th

by Slater

Waiting for the announcement in the streets
Waiting for the announcement in the streets

Everyone in Copenhagen has been anticipating this day. This is the day where we're supposed to find out if our leaders are going to come together on some kind of an agreement. Are we going to move forward into a green, sustainable future, or wait until COP 16 in Mexico next year to try again?

We'd all been wondering over here if President Barack Obama would come and make a big change. He made it over here, and we watched him speak from the Bella Center earlier today on a screen in a room where you could hear a pin drop. I remember as I was listening in awe to his beautiful speech, that he seemed sincere, but I doubted that what he spoke about so eloquently would really happen.

I hope I'm wrong.

Two protesters demand polluters pay up
Two protesters demand polluters pay up

This morning, Dan, Wendy and I met up with Theresia, the young woman who found us our apartment virtually last minute in Copenhagen (it's awesome btw). She gave us a tour of the ship we almost stayed on. We decided to visit the lowest levels, because that's where the youth delegates and journalists were staying. We went down and immediately ran into a young man from the Czech Republic and his friend from India. We were able to successfully interview them both and heard a similar tone to the other delegates I've interviewed; that youth are not being heard, and that the Copenhagen summit is extremely disappointing. But there is also a massive surge of hope from people attending the conference and in Copenhagen, that the movement is moving forward. The hope and the love for others I'm seeing and experiencing here is boosting my spirit and rejuvenating my hope that we still have a fighting chance.

After the ship we walked over to the headquarters of the Yes Men (yes, those hoax pulling activists) where a duplicate Bella Center press conference room had been built. They'd created a chance to hold a dream conference, giving people, ordinary people and high ranking alike, the opportunity to say what they are really feeling and what they would want said at the summit. Of course, I participated and ranted, quite emotionally, until they forced me from the podium.

Slater holds her own press conference
Slater holds her own press conference

We walked to where the protest was starting, and I'd say there were 700 people there (it eventually grew into 1,500). The protesters were self declared peaceful protesters, so as not to spark another incident of random arrests and beatings. But even so, vans and vans of Police (Politi here in Copenhagen) were surrounding the protest and police were walking up and down, monitoring them. We decided it would be best to split up with Dan, who was filming the protest, and Wendy and I went to Klimaforum to get some last-day interviews.

There, we ran into Alex, a Canadian youth delegate I'd met the other day, who was currently residing in Calgary, Alberta. As you can imagine, he's one dedicated guy to be an environmentalist in the home of the world's largest industrial project: the tar sands... dirty oil...

Much to Alex's and my shame, Canada, a country that used to be known for leading the charge in global causes, won the Fossil of the Year award for holding back progress at the talks... O, Canada...

We walked with Alex over to the building assigned to all the NGOs and delegates who'd been kicked out of the Bella Center. Masses of people were swarming to spell out a climate change message with candles. It turned out, we had to wait for 30 minutes because police had taken away the crane. Apparently, it was interfering with air space for President Obama. That's a big crane. Plan B: We waited a while more, then we were all called out to help prepare the "candles" - torches more like. Emily Hunter was there, and we helped light the crowd's torches as they moved into the square. We then arranged ourselves into letters to spell out a message. Emily and I were in T. More waiting. I went through 4 torches as I waited, because they all ran down so much as I waited I had to get new ones. Long wait. In the cold. But finally our organizers were satisfied with our letters and formations and a photo was taken from a nearby rooftop.

Afterwards everyone swarmed into a massive circle and chanted "climate justice." I felt so involved and a part of this movement when we were all standing together as one group yelling what we wanted.

I look back over this blog and I feel like I'm not saying everything I want to say, to give the impression of this place like I've given to friends and family over the phone. I just want it to be great. I've met such amazing people here and seen such crazy stuff I want to represent it and I'm afraid I haven't.

You should see it over here. It's incredible. Before I came to Copenhagen, I was feeling messed up, distressed at the world's situation, and a bit hopeless. But being around people who are living life to the fullest, passionate about what they're doing, interested and interesting, full people who are fighting for their future... it's given me hope.

But we have to keep fighting.

Peaceful protests in the streets of Copenhagen
Peaceful protests in the streets of Copenhagen

It's four in the morning as I write this. As it stands, the U.S., China, India and South Africa have reached a "meaningful agreement" on climate change. That's it? Four countries. Out of 192? I could cry.

I think back to an interview Dan and I did with 3 youth delegates from Nunavut and the Northwest territories in Canada and for me, the immediacy and reality of global warming really hit home. The people living in the Arctic are feeling the effects of climate change twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth.

Villages are falling into the sea from permafrost melting. Seasons are changing. Their culture is threatened and more and more people are falling through once solid ice. Their whole world is endangered.

Can ours be far behind?

From Copenhagen, this is Slater.

Page created on 12/19/2009 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 12/19/2009 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links

United Nations Climate Change Conference - For breaking news - An international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand.
TckTckTck - The world is ready
The Yes Men - "Targeting leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.

Extra Info


The U.S. president appeared to have salvaged the faltering talks Friday when he declared a "breakthrough" with China, India, Brazil and South Africa. But the three-page document they agreed upon ran into trouble in the plenary, where delegates from Bolivia, Cuba, Sudan and Venezuela denounced it.

Decisions are made by consensus in U.N. climate negotiations.

Obama's day of hectic diplomacy produced a document promising $30 billion in emergency climate aid to poor nations in the next three years and a goal of eventually channeling $100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries.

It includes a method for verifying each nation's reductions of heat-trapping gases — a key demand by Washington, because China has resisted international efforts to monitor its actions.

It requires industrial countries to list their individual targets and developing countries to list what actions they will take to cut global warming pollution by specific amounts. Obama called that an "unprecedented breakthrough."

The document said carbon emissions should be reduced enough to keep the increase in average global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), but it omits the usual reference to pre-industrial levels. Without that language, the starting point for limiting temperatures would be 0.7 degrees C higher — the amount of warming in modern times.

However, some of the most vulnerable nations believe the limit should be held to a no more than 1.5 degree C rise.

Since leaders failed to agree on a binding deal to reduce greenhouse gases, delegates also scrapped a plan to protect the world's biologically rich tropical forests early Saturday that would have paid some 40 poor, tropical countries to protect their forests.

The overall outcome was a significant disappointment to those who had anticipated the deal brokered by Obama would be turned into a legally binding treaty. Instead, it envisions another year of negotiations and leaves myriad details yet to be decided.

If the countries had waited to reach a full, binding agreement, "then we wouldn't make any progress," Obama said. In that case, he said, "there might be such frustration and cynicism that rather than taking one step forward, we ended up taking two steps back."

Obama said there was a "fundamental deadlock in perspectives" between big, industrially developed countries like the United States and poorer, though sometimes large, developing nations like China, India and Brazil. Still he said this week's efforts "will help us begin to meet our responsibilities to leave our children and grandchildren a cleaner planet."


Author Info

December 18th, 2009
United Nations Climate Change Conference