COP 15, 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Denmark

After a (free) showing of the movie The Age of Stupid, followed by a debate in cinema Lux in Nijmegen I was given a flyer. It was about the international demonstration during the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 12th. I had thought about going there before, but after the debate my desire to take part in this demonstration was a lot stronger. I just wanted to do something. The flyer came from the International Socialists (IS) who offered the opportunity to come along for a very fair price, just the weekend, leaving on Friday December 11th and returning Sunday 13th. It took me some effort to get the Friday off from work, but when that was arranged I eagerly emailed the IS to let them know I'd like to go along. In the following time I recieved several emails about the organisation and such. On Friday December 11th I left home by bike early in the morning, heading for Nijmegen's train station. There I left my bike in a bicycle shelter and took the train to Zwolle, one of two places (beside Amsterdam) to get on the IS-bus to Copenhagen. The bus arrived a bit late because it started off late in Amsterdam, but once on our way things went smoothly. I didn't know anyone in the IS group, other than the guy that gave me the IS flyer at Lux (though I only spoke a couple of words with him on that occasion so I didn't really know him either), but I sat alongside a very nice man who didn't know anyone either. I took a lot of bread with me as finding vegan food would most likely not be very easy. It got dark pretty early, probably because we were further North than I am when at home. We got onto a boat in the dark, but could still see the amazing sight of the German high speed train ICE rolling into the boat as well! Quite an extraodinary thing to see. Too bad it was dark so I couldn't look out over the see. Once back on land we drove on the bus for another hour or so (just a guess) to end up at, amazingly, the Hollaenderhallen! There were a couple of groups of activists staying at these sport centre halls, a section above a tenniscourt had been reserved for the IS group. Before we went to bed we talked through the plans for the demonstration, ways to stick together and such.
After a night with little sleep we got ready to go to the Cristiansborg Slotsplads in Copenhagen, the starting point of the march. We were supposed to leave in small groups so the public transport woudn't be too crowded, but the busses didn't follow their schedule, so the entire group ended up at the same busstop anyway. Fortunately the buss driver was very friendly and let us all in for free. We got out near a subway station and took a short trip on the subway to get really close to the Cristiansborg Slotsplads. It all seemed very quiet until we got to the Slotsplads. Finally some people... :) I didn't bring a sign or anything, so I was happy to see signs being handed out. One with the clear text "Bla bla bla... ACT NOW!" caught my attention and I was sold... The sign had a long stick attached to it, which made it very easy to carry. I could hold it with one hand and support it with my shoulder. Very handy as it was quite a big sign. It took a very long before the march started. Several speakers came up onto a stage, many of which I couldn't make out a word they were saying. It was really cold and standing there waiting we got colder and colder. But the crowd was still growing, which was nice to see. People from all over the world were there and I used a Dutch flag I was given by the man I sat next to on the bus to show I came all the way from the Netherlands to attend this demonstration (even though a lot of people came from way further). After a while, the names of groups that could start marching were called out from the stage so not everyone would start at the same time. Large groups from WWF and Greenpeace started first, but the group of IS was pretty early in the line as it wasn't just the group from the Netherlands but several others as well. As we started to march we saw a group of people some of us had seen entering the Slotsplads, the so-called black block. They honour their name by dressing completely in black, some wearing black caps or hats and some even wearing black balaclavas... All in an attempt to be unrecognizable. Up to no good... The IS is an anti-capitalist organisation and the black block are anti-capitalistic anarchists, so they feel somewhat connected to eachother while IS is totally non-violent and the black block... They marched alongside the IS group for a while, but after not too long we lost sight of them. That was nice, because the atmosphere had gotten a bit tense after we saw black block people walking around with sticks (obviously some of them had gotten hold of the same free signs I was carrying and broke them apart to serve a whole new purpose) and trying to take stones from a pedestrian island or something like that. After losing them, we didn't see them again, which, we later learned, was a good thing as they had thrown in windows of a bank and most of them had been arrested.
That was really the only negative thing I can think of though. The atmosphere in the march was absolutely great. Such diversity of people from all over the world. All kinds of signs and banners, lots of home-made ones. All kinds of music as well. And such a huge amount of people... The stream just didn't stop. I couldn't see the end or start at any point. Back at the Slotsplads we heard there were an estimated 40,000 people, but during the march we heard the police estimated there were 100,000. Awesome...
The march ended at the Bella Centre, the place where the conference was held. We never even reached the square in front of the centre because by the time we got there, the square was packed with people.
After a long wait, we went back to Copenhagen's city centre, got something to eat and went to the Klimaforum09, an altenative conference, to attend two lectures organized by the IS.
After getting back to the Hollaenderhallen there was a talk about the next day. About half the group would be travelling back to the Netherlands, but the other half would stay to take part in an action that was intended to block the harbor. It had become clear though that this action was not going to be peacefull and the IS group decided not to attend.
We travelled back to the Netherlands the next day.

Quite an experience and I'm thankful to the IS for offering this opportunity to people without any hidden motives. Below are some pictures taken during these days. Hold the mouse cursor on a picture for info. Some of these pictures were made by me, but because I was out of batteries really fast, most were made by Stas and Nelson, very kind people who I spend a lot of time with. Stas and Nelson, thanks for allowing me to use these pics!








Some other pictures can be found here on the Dutch website of the International Socialists.