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NGOs Show No Signs of Accepting Defeat…Ever


Shortly after Obama’s speech, hundreds of people from Klimaforum (an alternate climate conference for NGOs) rushed out into the square with “climate shame” posters and banners as well as pictures of heads of governments. It was cold and windy, but it attracted the attention of the Danish news and others.

Randomly assigned to hold one side of a climate shame banner, I was quickly drawn into the demonstration. Everyone wore neon-yellow “climate not saved” vests and called on world leaders to set a fair, ambitious, and binding treaty. There were boos for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and other countries that blocked progress in climate negotiations over the past two weeks. The unified mass of climate activists included both many people from the youth movement and older, concerned people.

Nearly all of the NGOs in Copenhagen were barred from entering the Bella Center staring Tuesday, making demonstrations the preferred action for most people. Many NGOs now reside in Klimaforum. The main hall in Øksnehallen has hundreds of people listening to world leaders and negotiators on two large television screens. Even more people are furiously typing away on their computers or looking up negotiation updates on twitter, email, and other news sources.

It is inspiring to see so many in one place for one cause. It is not strange to walk past NGO leaders, such as Bill McKibben of or organizers from 1Sky and the Climate Action Network (CAN). Even though the belief in a fair, ambitious, and binding treaty in Copenhagen is all but extinguished, there is still a deep, powerful fervor to continue the climate movement.

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