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NOT COPPING OUT
Reports from Rising Tide inspired actions inside and outside the
UN climate conference COP 6.5 in Bonn, July 2001
July 16th: The Rising Tide series of actions
against the climate summit began with a 300-strong critical mass
bike ride around Bonn. Everything was in good humour, and the bike
ride culminates in the main square of Bonn City where they are met
by the samba band. Food was provided for the occasion by Rampenplan,
and the day ended at Rheinaue Park for a dance.
Crashing The Party
Wednesday July 18th: This evening, a group of initially
about 50 activists congregated outside of the Deutsche Telecom building
(near the conference centre) where delegates from various NGO's
and renewable energy representatives were meeting with the German
Minister for the Environment. Under the spell of the rhythmically
irresistibly combined forces of London and Amsterdam samba band
members, protestors danced in front of the building, handed out
copies of the spoof conference paper 'The Earth Crimes' and Carbon
Credits (detailing the immorality of emissions trading) to the attendees.
We had banners galore reading '60% reductions now', 'profiting from
pollution is not the solution' and another which read, 'NGO's, Do
your job! Reject Flex Mex', (flex mex = flexible mechanisms, or
the piece of jargon that sums up Kyoto's many scams.) The samba
band launched into a fresh onslaught of deep latin grooves, while
the party attendees were bombarded with propaganda from us as they
Then a truck containing a sound system pulled up in front of the
building but after only five minutes the police shut it down, despite
the efforts of the samba band who clustered round the truck. In
the ensuing melee and with little apparent provocation, one woman
was dragged out from underneath the truck, had her hands cuffed
tightly behind her back and was driven off.
Whilst all this joyful protest happened outside the party, activists
had infiltrated the party disguised as suited delegates. Underneath
these innocuous-looking suits were climate super heroines who took
their uninvited display to the stage. To the applause and cheers
of watching delegates the climate super heroines were chased around
the stage by keystone-cop style security who insisted they not have
the chance to speak. However they did manage to read off a few of
their 'Principles for a Better Protocol' before being roughly dragged
out into the street.
Reclaim The Rain
Thursday 19th July: A reclaim the streets action today was
dramatically turned into a road blockade by activists from the Rising
Tide Network and other groups. Demanding that their twelve-point
manifesto be read out in the COP 6.5 conference halls, approximately
90 activists from the 500 strong parade locked arms around a central
ring of people chained together for what turned into a four hour
clash with police. All sides acted peacefully and although many
demonstrators were forcefully carried away the situation was quite
calm for most of the afternoon.
Members of the world's press, cameras wrapped against the rain,
reporting from close quarters throughout the tense afternoon. Spokespeople
for the demonstrators hailed the action as a success in an upbeat
discussion this evening, after the police barricades had finally
been pulled away and the evening traffic blocked for miles by the
action on one of Bonn's main streets, had started moving again.
Banner In The Sky
Sunday 22nd July: Rising Tide people climbed to the top
of a 50 metre crane outside the conference centre and unfurled the
"60%-80% CO2 reductions here and now" banner from it.
Friday 27th July: In the final session of the latest round
of climate talks, climate justice activists occupied a beam in the
conference centre hall and unfurled a banner which read 'Trading
in Pollution is not the Solution'.
One of the activists explained, 'We are here to bring some common
sense back to these negotiations. The US pull-out made everyone
so desperate to get any agreement that we've ended up with a deal
which is a step in the wrong direction. The current loopholes will
mean that the already pitiful 5.2% CO2 reductions could now only
be 0.3%*. The trade in emissions lays a foundation for inaction
rather than building a framework for the necessary emission reductions.
This deal can only serve the interests of big business and reinforce
The welcome that this deal has received from media, governments
and the big environmental NGO's masks the real story of the talks.
The myth that any deal - no matter how weak - is a step in the right
direction should be challenged. One activist who had Article 19
of the UN Convention of Human Rights, freedom of speech, written
on her naked body stated 'Not only is this treaty going nowhere
for the climate, any public concern or voice about this has been
completely repressed by corporate and political interests. As citizens
who will be adversely affected by climate change and have not been
able to participate in the decisions made about it, we have a right
to be heard here and have been forced to take such drastic measures
in order to do so.'
After occupying the beam in the conference centre entrance hall
for around 45 minutes, the four activists came to an agreement with
the UN security (who were unable to get them down safely) that they
would come down of their own accord on the condition that they could
proceed to the media room and speak to any journalists who were
interested in hearing the reasons why they had been forced to take
such drastic measures for dissenting voices to be heard within the
However, in a sneaky, underhand twist, as soon as the protestors
had come off the beam, they were led directly outside to a waiting
van of very edgy riot cops, had plastic cuffs put on them and were
made to sit in stifling heat in the van for some time to the point
where one of the protestors passed out. The UN security chief was
heard telling the police that they needed to be severely punished.
The relationship between the police and the protestors has been
on the whole very respectful and calm, and these final arrests were
no exception once they had been delivered into the hands of the
normal police. They were duly processed and then sat in front of
the police station having a picnic and drinking cold beer with the
prison support crew who had come to greet them.
For more information visit: www.risingtide.de
The rising tide network www.unfccc.int/cop6_2
Official website for Bonn COP6.5 www.climateconference.org
*As stated by Greenpeace in their press release July 23