Wonderful Wonderful Carbon Haven!

With the activists gearing up outside and developing countries in no mood for compromise - climate justice is definitely on the agenda this time round, reports Kim Bryan in Copenhagen

December 7, 2009
5 min read


Kim Bryan works for the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales.

Am I mad for bringing my baby here I ask? When I booked the tickets It felt too important not to come – I wanted to be able to say to Neru in years to come ‘we were there’, – now I don’t know! I’ll tell you on the 18 December whether it was the right decision or not.

For now I am caught up in the wet, fascinating, confusing and frenzied excitement that is Carbon-hagen. I am here to promote CAT’s groundbreaking project Zero Carbon Britain report. Which shows how we can rapidly decarbonise society to zero carbon by 2030 without nuclear energy! We are presenting the report on 10 and 15 December at the Klimaforum09. I am also here to give workshops with Trapese on popular education and its role in inspiring social change, and to take part in the myriad of events that are taking place due to COP15.

Carbonhagen has the potential to do something different and while it is highly unlikely that any climate deal will come out of it (and that’s probably a good thing), the new voices that the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), Africa group and the ALBA group could make for a very interesting conference …

As COP15 opened, the AOSIS gave an amazing statement – ‘we are here to negotiate our survival and we are not going to compromise on that- because we can’t.’ AOSIS have already threatened to walk out if the climate deal does result in a far-reaching deal, which does not return atmospheric concentrations to below 350 CO2e. During pre-talks held in Barcelona in October, the Africa group walked out and called for negotiations to be suspended until there was substantial advancement on Annex 1 (rich countries) agreeing to a binding national emissions reduction targets.

The G77/China climate group of 130 countries, whose main position is that rich countries should accept their historical responsibility for climate change, gave considerable support for the Africa group. According to some sources, a lot of diplomatic pressure was put on African leaders to back down from their position. Unfortunately reflecting the nature of such conferences with rich countries using back door methods and every available channel to deliver outcomes in line with their interests. Sources expect that this type of behind the scenes lobbying will have a huge impact in Carbonhagen and weaken Africa group resolve. That does not mean that Africa won’t walk out again!

‘We are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of the continent,’ said Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

The ALBA group is a coalition of Latin American and Caribbean countries,

representing 73 million people, have joined forces to call for climate justice and the defence of the rights of the Earth; calling on developed countries to recognise the ‘climate debt’ caused by their historical carbon emissions. Evo Morales, who has just been reelected as the Bolivian president is no stranger to upsetting international meetings of this kind and won’t think twice about walking out.

Cuba’s Fidel Castro also spelt out clearly that Copenhagen will not be just green wash and business as usual, ‘The capitalist system is not only oppressing and plundering our countries; the wealthiest industrial nations wish to impose to the rest of the world the bulk of the burden in the struggle on climate change. Who are they trying to fool with that? In Copenhagen, ALBA and the Third World countries will be struggling for the survival of the species.’

There is huge pressure on the COP to deliver solutions and so far the possible outcomes look something like this:

  • No agreement/ collapse
  • Greenwash ‘a decision to make a decision’
  • Political implementing agreement- that is not legally binding
  • A single new legally binding agreement ‘Copenhagen Protocol’
  • Breakthrough two protocols – one that improves on what has already been agreed and the other that is legally binding and takes us forward to a brighter future (most developing nations want this option)

    But it’s looking like no deal would be the best deal in Copenhagen. As Jim Hansen, the world’s pre-eminent climate scientist, said any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch. ‘I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it’s a disaster track,’ said Hansen, who heads the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

    With the activists gearing up outside and developing countries in no mood for compromise – climate justice is definitely on the agenda this time round.

    Kim Bryan is mother to Neru (7 months), activist, media officer at the Centre for Alternative Technology and works with the Trapese popular education collective.


  • Kim Bryan works for the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales.


    ✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

    Social Workers Without Borders
    Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees

    Growing up married
    Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides

    The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
    On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari

    Reclaiming Holloway Homes
    The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

    Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
    Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

    Pass the domestic violence bill
    Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill

    Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
    Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

    Protect our public lands
    Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

    From the frontlines
    Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

    How can we make the left sexy?
    Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

    In pictures: designing for change
    Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

    Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
    As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

    Who owns our land?
    Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out

    Don’t delay – ditch coal
    Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

    Utopia: Work less play more
    A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

    Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
    Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

    Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
    We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

    Utopia: Daring to dream
    Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

    A better Brexit
    The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

    News from movements around the world
    Compiled by James O’Nions

    Podemos: In the Name of the People
    'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

    Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
    Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

    ‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
    If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

    The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
    Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

    How to make your own media
    Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

    Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
    Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

    Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
    Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

    Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
    Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

    Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
    Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

    University should not be a debt factory
    Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.