The international demonstration of December 12 was a success. More than 100,000 people from all over the world joined this unitary mobilisation action. Altogether, 538 organisations from 67 countries answered the call. Under an enjoyable (a welcoming) sun, the colourful procession and its bicycles (as it is the custom in Denmark) went to the Bella Center, where the official negotiations are taking place. Many radical catchphrases could be read on banners and placards, around the following idea: “Climate Justice means System Change not Climate Change”.
I have been asked many times to express my views on the unjustified repression that occurred during this demonstration. But to limit oneself only to these aspects by insisting again and again on relations between the police and demonstrators would deflect attention from a massive mobilisation on crucial climate issues that are at stake in Copenhagen. It is no accident if for the first time on Sunday the Bella Center’s screens continuously broadcast images from outside (and not from the conferences as it is usually the case), in this case images of arrests, implying that popular demonstrations are doomed to excesses and ignoring the messages expressed by the 100,000 people of this march for hours.
The international demonstration of December 12 was a success. One of the key message was “System Change not Climate Change”. The declaration from Klimaforum has the same title…
Some media, if they had wanted to, could have mentioned the sincere solidarity of hundreds of demonstrators who abandoned the demonstration in order to support people who had been unjustly arrested, showering the police with slogans such as “Let them go”. An improvised action in front of the police, surprised by this peaceful yet determined attitude, accompanied by rhythms from the “sambactivists”. Furthermore, this demonstration proves that social movements are now largely joining the battle for climate justice and therefore constitute a renewal of the “alterglobalist” movement. Social and environmental movements now join forces to hold the line. The massive block “System Change Not Climate Change” gathered movements as diverse as Friends of the Earth, ATTAC, the networks Climate justice Now! and Climate Justice Action, Via Campesina and many organisations from the South such as Jubilee South or Focus on the Global South.
These organisations marched to demand a genuine binding agreement that would not rely on false “solutions” that lean on market – the recent crises should prove its ineffectiveness to all – or on technology (GMO, agrofuel, nuclear energy…). The recognition of the rights of indigenous people (especially their right to genuinely take part in the negotiations) and the recognition of the ecological debt were part of the agenda. All these demands had in common the fact that they call the capitalist logic into question, especially since big corporations have invaded the town with their logos and the Bella Center with their lobbyists. On December 15, the Angry Mermaid Award will reward the company or the lobby that had the most harmful (effective?) action to stalemate the negotiations.
Meanwhile, in the Klimaforum, the alternative summit of the civil society, a declaration of the social movements, also entitled “System Change not Climate Change”, has been finalised. Signed by almost 300 organisations in less than three days, this text is about to be presented ways that are still to be defined in the COP15. For the last few months, through an Internet forum, people from all around the world have sent their contributions to one several of the nine themes of the Klimaforum. Part of the Klimaforum team has synthesised all these propositions into one document, which was submitted to all the participants who then sent again their comments and amendments, a process that enabled the writing of a second document. Lastly, during the plenary sessions and workshops of the last three days, anyone who wished to, was able to take part in the finalisation of this document. At the end of a last epic session, the whole assembly agreed at last on a final declaration.
This declaration is pioneering for several reasons.
First, on the model of the demonstration, this text gathered social and environmental movements, and as such, it established strong ties between ecological and social issues. Although it is not the first time, such a wide coalition is revealing a reinforced dynamic.
Secondly, if this text is longer than declarations written in World Social Forums, it is more precise. Radical in its overview of the situation – a multidimensional crisis that brings together each crisis of liberal capitalism – it also intends to make suggestions for a transition towards sustainable societies: abandonment of fossil fuels, reorientation of state research towards renewable energy, democratic control and relocalisation of the economy. It emphasises the necessity of unions between local producers (peasants, fishermen…) as a way to ensure food sovereignty and insists on the crucial necessity of a greater international cooperation that would be accompanied by a reform and a democratisation of the UNO and the end of the hegemony of international institutions such as the WTO, the World Bank, and the IMF. The transformation of the alterglobalist motto “think globally /act locally” into “think locally and globally /act locally and globally” seems now well rooted.
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To conclude, this declaration hopes to become a political platform that could be used as a base to build a wide social movement for climate justice. We will thus remember from Copenhagen that a new dynamic of the “alterglobalisation” movement is at work. Its coalitions are getting wider and strengthened. It can be supposed that, considering the widely shared pessimistic forecast about the COP15’s results, the renewed vigour of this movement committed to the struggle for a change of system will not be wasted.
Ronack Monabay (UCJS : Climate Emergency and Social Justice, France)
This article does not represent the opinions of Klimaforum09 but the opinions of the author.
PS : You can read and sign the Declaration from Klimaforum on our webiste.