Highs and Lows of Copenhagen

I've come to Copenhagen as an activist. Three years of grassroots activism with the UK Climate Camp meant I knew I had to come to this summit. As I now approach my final day here I wanted to share with you my highs and lows from the experience.


  • Cycling through the falling snow with my activist 'affinity group' on our way to the Reclaim  Power action 
  • Recycling a broken down, disused bicycle found on the street into a resitance machine to use in the bike bloc
  • Dancing the Hokey Cokey whilst facing a line of riot police
  • Glimpsing a tiny smile on the face of one of the line as we continued to dance
  • Taking part in a meeting of hundreds of activists from across the world knowing we come from many backgrounds but are united in our struggle for climate justice
  • Eating more danish pastries than really necessary
  • Seeing our movement constantly evaluate its effectiveness and look for new ways to achieve the change we need


  • Realising brogues were really not suitable footwear for taking direct action in the snow
  • Feeling the freezing water seep unto my feet and almost, almost wanting to cry
  • Listening to a fellow activist tell of his degrading treatment in a Danish cell
  • Hearing a friend had been arrested, detained for two days and deported for having a bike repair tool....in a bike workshop
  • Hearing this summit we knew would fail had done so spectacularly

The Story of Cap and Trade

The Story of Cap and Trade (aka carbon trading)

Confused by all this talk of carbon markets? Been hunting for lumps of charcoal in amongst the fruit and veg on your local stalls?

Thankfully the people that brought us the fantastic The Story of Stuff are here to guide us through. Annie Leonard does a brilliant job of showing just why this 'market-based solution' - the centrepiece of the Copenhagen climate change talks - is actually no solution at all and in fact a highly dangerous distraction. Entertaining and enlightening  - check it out and pass it on.

The Story of Cap & Trade from Story of Stuff Project on Vimeo.

For more on the Copenhagen negotiations have a look at our latest magazine

For more on cap and trade see Carbon Trading - How it works and why it fails

New Internationalist @ Copenhagen


We will be reporting from inside the conference centre and out on the streets, to bring you news, interviews, analysis and actions that you won't find in the mass media. For some background to the climate talks, please see the current issue of the New Internationalist Magazine and Just or bust: Can the Copenhagen talks deliver Climate Justice? from our recent Climate Justice issue.

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See also our full coverage of the Copenhagen summit.

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Here are some other good sources of news, views, info and action during Copenhagen: Climate Justice Now! Network of organizations and movements from across the globe committed to the fight for social, ecological and gender justice. Climate Justice Action Huge coalition of activists, networks and organizations behind a range of protests during the summit Climate Slamdown Marc Roberts and Marc Hudson, producers of the Climate Slamdown cartoon in the current issue of the New Internationalist, provide a daily guide to shenanigans in Copenhagen. The Climate Chronicle The Climate Justice newspaper is produced every two days during the Copenhagen climate talks, reporting and decoding what is going on both inside and outside the climate negotiations. Find out what is really going on behind the media headlines. Climate Radio Filing daily audio bulletins from inside the Bella Centre, from the street actions and parallel People’s Summit aka Klimaforum. Indymedia Denmark The latest news from the streets of Copenhagen.

Stop press: competition winner announced!

With our Comedy Headliner competition at an end we're delighted to announce the winners. Taking a lead from TV quiz show Have I Got News For You, back in September we asked for your funniest alternative headlines using the real examples on the economic crisis shown below.

Our runners-up were: 

Tax Policies Made Countries More Vulnerable to Murdochs

Bankers to teach Mafiosi Bankers to Teach Criminals

How to Get Rich from Stealing and Fraud Legitimately!

Going slightly beyond the rules – but perhaps all the better for it – we had this fantastic selection of imaginary headlines from one entrant:   

Humans Destroy Earth Before Jesus Comes Back!

World Population Declines to 1 Billion. Newspaper Subscriptions Affected.

Wall Street Regulation Works. CEO Pay Decreased to 1,000 Times’ Worker Pay.

But finally, we felt the top prize had to go to:

G8 Finance Mins start to plan for end of lunch

All these entries will receive copies of two new New Internationalist books: People First Economics and the No-Nonsense Guide to Global Finance, with the overall winner also getting a year's subscription to New Internationalist magazine and a 2010 One World Calendar. Thanks to everyone who entered. If you didn’t win, you can still get a copy of the two books at the special discount price of £14 for both.

C words: join the conversation

From Goya to Morris, Beuys and The Yes Men, artists have played a role in movements of social change. But as the UN’s climate change summit in Copenhagen fast approaches, what can art do faced with the mega-challenge of climate change?

This weekend I went along to the opening of a new season of work at Bristol’s prestigious Arnolfini Contemporary Arts Centre where this question will occupy the gleaming white spaces for the next two months. C Words: Carbon, Climate, Capital, Culture opened with a discussion on the role of art in achieving change and will close with a workshop on how to use bicycle sculptures to protest in Copenhagen; it will include an ‘auction of late-capitalist artefacts’, a design competition to rebrand RBS as the Royal Bank of Sustainability and the creation of a homemade activist cell by a family of five for the half term holiday. This is clearly not going to be art as we commonly know it: introspective and in a frame. Messy, political, participatory: this is art which sees no reason for boundaries with education or activism; which cannot be boxed into silent galleries but must instead run out onto the streets and into the whirl of ideas.      

I encourage everyone who can to get along to Bristol before the season ends on 29 November. If you can take a sapling to add to Ackroyd and Harvey's The Walking Forest all the better. The world needs to engage in a very important conversation over the next two months. The Arnolfini suddenly looks like a pretty great place to take part in it.

Making a clean start

'None of us should underestimate the importance of this evening's meeting,' pronounced Susan George, respected author and campaigner, as she addressed our Clean Start event on Monday evening. She had recognized the value of the debate the event had started, which we hope will continue below.

 The evening had brought together some of the world’s most respected voices on global inequality and set them the task of working out how to build a fairer economy from the financial crisis enveloping us. With over 200 years spent campaigning for social justice between them, this was a group many people wanted to hear. We gave them 10 minutes each to give us their view on what must be done. If you didn’t make it along you’ll soon be able to watch their inspiring and insightful contributions on our website or, in the meantime, check out what some of them had to say in this month’s magazine.

The debate raised lots of questions for those of us who want to use this opportunity to create a better world. Should we look back to the white wrist-bands of 2005’s Make Poverty History campaign for a model of what to do? Or does the very fact it ultimately failed suggest a more radical, more political movement is needed? What sort of politics will lead us out of this mess to the fairer world we are struggling for? Political parties? Inspiring leaders? A non-hierarchical grassroots movement? Is the broad platform of ‘economic justice’ enough to rouse millions to action or must we have a single aim? Jubilee 2000 had a simple message of ‘drop the debt’, what single change would this campaign ask for? How does the even greater bio-crisis of climate change fit in?   

Many of these questions proved controversial. All need answering if we are to succeed. Monday evening’s event was just the beginning of a debate which we invite you to join below. How do you think we should use this opportunity?            

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