Keep Hopenhagen Alive

By now you’ve surely heard that, to anyone concerned about putting the planet over profits and politics, the UN climate summit in Copenhagen was a massive failure. But I just want to point out that there’s plenty of reason to be hopeful about the future of the planet.

For a couple reactions to the farce that was the outcome of these climate negotiations, check out George Monbiot’s take, as well as this scathing op-ed in The Independent by my colleague at Greenpeace UK, Joss Garman.

I titled this post “Keep Hopenhagen Alive” for two reasons. The first being not because “Hopenhagen” was a touchy-feely “campaign” paid for by Coca-Cola and Siemens – two companies who would like, apparently, to cash in on the clean, green future we’re trying to build – but despite that fact.

Coca-Cola, for its part, did make a big announcement recently about using green refrigeration in its vending machines and coolers around the globe, which is definitely a very welcome announcement and shows that arguments against a climate treaty based on supposed threats to our economy are just completely unfounded. If Coca-Cola hadn’t thoroughly crunched the numbers and determined that shelling out for greener refrigeration now would make them more money in the long-run, they wouldn’t be doing it.

But still, walking under the gigantic “Hopenhagen” globe they’d erected in one of Copenhagen’s central squares, it was hard not to feel that this slick, corporate-sponsored feel-good campaign wasn’t somehow emblematic of the influence corporate money had on the proceedings as a whole. Thankfully the Yes Men were there to deflate the message of the Hopenhagen globe and give the lie to Coke’s greenwashing.

Who can doubt the “Copenhagen Accord” would have been so lame if the chief concern of our world “leaders” hadn’t been to appease corporate interests that are breathing down their necks rather than saving the planet? That’s why a massive, coordinated movement growing from the global grassroots is desperately needed. The only thing that can counter the inordinate influence of corporate money is a resounding, reverberating, undeniable call for climate justice from the bottom up.

Luckily, the second reason why I say “Keep Hopenhagen Alive” is because in Copenhagen we saw the birth of a truly unprecedented global movement that takes achieving climate justice as its core mission. The Tcktcktck coalition and the Climate Justice Action coalition are just a couple of the movement-builders hard at work forging this global alliance and bringing together everyone from environmental activists to social justice activists to indigenous activists to labor activists to faith-based activists. If you want to be part of this movement, you can start by checking out either of those groups and seeing how you can get involved.

I say we need to “Keep Hopenhagen Alive” in the sense that, just as our hopes for climate justice can’t be co-opted by corporate interests in Copenhagen, we can’t stop pushing back against the corporate influence that has so far succeeded in delaying real climate action. The end goal, of course, being to ensure that our politicians listen to the people who they represent and not the corporations trying to buy them off. We need to keep alive the spirit of compassion and justice that leads most of us to work for a fair deal that takes into account the needs of even the smallest, poorest countries; an ambitious deal that aggressively cuts emissions and protects the world’s forests; and a legally-binding deal that holds countries accountable.

As Kevin Grandia wrote, “Our Politicians Failed Us in Copenhagen and Will Soon Regret It.”

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