Here's my guest post on today's Reclaim Power action at COP15. Thanks v much, Catherine, Camp for Climate Action
Today grassroots activists from all over the world marched on the COP15 summit with the aim of taking over the conference for one day and transforming it into a People’s Assembly. The Reclaim Power action was intended to give a voice to those who are not being heard, to be an opportunity to change the agenda, to discuss the real solutions, to send a clear message to the world calling for climate justice.
After mass arrests of protestors and street medics who gathered at the meeting point, over 1000 people made their way to the Bella Center, many crossing the police tape and trying to run into the conference space. After being forced back by police batons, dogs and pepper spray, some tried to sneak in over an inflatable bridge!
Indigenous delegates led the group who marched out from the Bella Centre to attempt to join the activists. Police reportedly used batons on delegates inside the centre trying to get out – [http://indymedia.dk/action_timelines/16th-dec] However despite heavy repression, 500-600 people attended a People’s Assembly, while two activists got into the conference centre and disrupted the plenary.
[See photos - http://www.flickr.com/photos/21552129@N03/]
Before the action many NGOs including Friends of the Earth and Via Campesina were barred from the talks that day while corporate lobbyists such as BMW were allowed in. However, there are billions of people globally who (unlike the NGOs) were never invited and don’t have a voice. These elitist and undemocratic talks are part of a political and economic system that puts corporate profits before the needs of people. The market based solutions being pushed in the UN Climate talks lead to ‘climate colonialism’ through land grabbing and accelerating the transfer of wealth from the exploited to an elite.
This action is about recognizing the power we have to change things when we work together. Throughout history changes have been made by ordinary people doing extraordinary things, from the suffragettes to the civil rights movement to indigenous groups reclaiming their land from multinational corporations.
This economic system is driving climate change – the pursuit of infinite economic growth is an impossible dream on a planet with finite resources. The pursuit of profit at any cost is detrimental to life. We need system change, not climate change - come and join those creating and fighting for a world which is both just and sustainable.