Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Check out this blog called Copenhagenize!

Some awesome ideas for making the world a more cycle friendly place!!


Friday, 25 December 2009

Why it matters

Climate change – how we have caused it and how we propose to deal with it – is ultimately about resources, rights, and health.

It is about water. It is about food. It is about energy. It is about minerals, timber, and other natural goods and services - Natural Capital.

It is ultimately about who has access to those things, who doesn’t, and why.

In other words: climate change is about humanity. It is about human rights, social egalitarianism, and – simply put – people.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Copenhagen reflections - Lucys perspective

Now I'm back on UK soil and I'm thinking back over the trip and what I have learnt, how I have changed and whether I'm an optimist or a pessimist. Lets see....

Lesson 1: I'm not alone. There are many passionate educated activists from all walks of life who are pushing for change and are willing to get on their bikes and cycle across Denmark in Winter or travel with their own funds to march for Climate justice. Along the route we met many plucky well informed change makers willing to stand up and ask for real deal.

Lesson 2: The best way to communicate is openly and to combine the facts with good storytelling while adding a human element. I certainly feel I have more stories in my catalogue and I'm proud that I made it to Copenhagen. Especially as at times I felt like giving up. Thank goodness for frozen raspberries and the motivating support of Team Carbon Cycle! (I love you Ben, Lorraine and Dougal. It was tough but oh so worth it. Hope you agree!)

Lesson 3: We may never know the total impact of our actions. OK so we raised £2500 for our charities and made a blog - Actions we can easily account for. But hopefully we have change a few hearts and minds or motivated others to reflect on their lifestyles and question where we are going as a race and whether the way we are living is sustainable in the long run.

However we haven't achieved the fair, ambitious legal deal that we had hoped for. This is shameful and I'm grieving for the people that will lose their homes and way of life due to climate change. I'm grieving for the losses to biodiversity from climate change and environmental destruction. It pains me that that our world leaders do not understand how we are intimately linked and dependent on our environment and the services our natural ecosystems provide. And I feel near powerless to do anything about this apart from keep communicating, keep sharing my thoughts and getting out and about in the world I care deeply about. I do still believe we can create a fairly, cleaner more enlightened society. But Rome wasn't built in a day.

I'm quietly optimistic. I do think the tide is turning. We are all interconnected. We live in symbiosis with those around us and we are intimately connected to our environment. Nearly every day I meet someone who lifts my spirit sand encourages me to believe that we are creating a new world free from pollution and based on clean green energy from wind, wave and solar. And if we don't succeed? Well at least I will know I did something.

I intend to celebrate the new and try to keep walking in the light; cheerfully, simply and joyfully.

Further reading: Details of an appropriate sustainable energy mix. David McKay is a professor from Cambridge University and now is a government advisor to DECC. http://www.withouthotair.com/synopsis10.pdf

Powering a green planet: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=powering-a-green-planet

The Copenhagen Wheel - An idea for TfL?

Cool tech from the Cop15

1st Entry: The Copenhagen wheel.

This nifty device fitted to the rear wheel of a bicycle can be controlled through your smart phone. You can use your phone to unlock and lock your bike, change gears and select how much the motor assists you. As you cycle, the wheel’s sensing unit is also capturing your effort level and information about your surroundings, including road conditions, carbon monoxide, NOx, noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity. You can then further access this data through your phone or the web and use it to plan healthier less polutting bike routes, to achieve your exercise goals or to meet up with friends while on the go. The data can be shared with friends, or with your city - anonymously if you wish – thereby contributing to a fine-grained database of environmental information from which we can all benefit.

The Copenhagen Wheel will be unveiled on December 15 at the COP15 UN Climate Conference. The project was conceived and developed by the SENSEable City Lab for the Kobenhavns Kommune. The prototype bikes were designed with the help of Ducati Energia, the technical partner and funding from the Ministry for the Environment. Progical Solutions LLC provided technical
support for the iphone control of the bikes. Find our more from this site.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Day 11 - Au revoir Copenhagen...

With great sadness in our hearts we packed our bags for home. After a delicious breakfast with Martin we headed for the train to Esbjerg. As we departed the city, snow began to fall and we settled down to review the countryside we had spent 4 days cycling through the week previously. We had some time to kill in Esbjerg so we got some food and drink in the city centre next to a packed ice skating ring. If it hadn't been for all the bags we would have been on the ice like a shot. We boarded the ferry around 6 pm. On board we met yet more copenhagen cyclist/activists. A couple who had cycled to Copenhagen on a tandem and Tom and a couple of scientists who had cycled and got the train to copenhagen for the day of Action. We spent the evening in the bar debating the science and comparing stories.

One of the main topics of discussion was the theory of "climate grief" and the work of Ro Randall director of Cambridge Carbon Footprint and a psychotherapist dealing specifically with the psychological understanding about climate change. Interesting stuff and certainly very timely.




Cambridge Carbon Footprint on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53087583534&v=info

Additional details of the concept can be found here. http://www.ntsg.umt.edu/files/5StagesClimateGrief.htm

Day 10 - World of work and Christinia Raids

So it was a sad morning waking up without our comrade Dougal who had left the night before. After a lie and brief wander around the main city centre, Lucy and Lorraine went to check out the Bella Centre, where the main negotiations are taking place. We arrived to find a strong police presence and long queues of people trying to get access to the building. After making a few enquiries we realised that there was no point sticking around as even many of the pre-registered NGOs were not being admitted.

We decided to go and check out another site of action, the "world of work" forum (a COP15 fringe event) where unions and people from the energy sectors were meeting to discuss various new technologies. We choose to sit in on a discussion about carbon capture and storage, a very hotly debated issue. My opinion is that CCF does not make clean coal but it has the potential to make cleaner coal. Although skeptical I could see the rationale behind some of the arguments for investing in CCF. Discussions revolved around the need to make a smooth transition to clean technologies and renewables and the necessity for continued fossil fuels while we build new clean green infrastructures. We need energy for the steel industry in order to manufacture the required wind turbines for example. A representative from the Australian energy unions told how they had identified CCS and solar thermal energy as the main priority for research funding and had been working closely with WWF australia to ensure that proposals are acceptable to the NGOs. Also discussed were legal liability of CCS. Basically that means who is liable if the carbon escapes from the storage sites or while being transported between capture site and storage site. It struck me that we have great interim energy needs while we build new infrastructure. It will a take time and it is critically important that we do not the squander the remaining energy with have and put strict limits on the amount of remaining fossil fuel reserves we use.

In the break-time we met a young group of trade union workers from the chemical industry. They told us of their experiences in the workplace in Belgian and had travelled to Copenhagen to make sure the bureaucrats in the talks remember the needs of the workers actually doing the hard graft.

We later headed back to the Klima forum to find Ben who had been to a number of lectures including one by Bill McKibben on the 350 campaign. Apparently the president of the Maldivs was also present. After a spot of networking with other activists (mostly from Sussex University) we head off to Christiania (an autonomous zone, also known as 'free-town') to hear Naomi Klein, of the No Logo fame address the Reclaim Power party. After quickly getting some amazing veggie curry and a quick glass of Glogg we listened to the plans for the next big day of Action due to take place on the 16th. Tensions were running high as we had been hearing how the G77 were repeatedly walking out of negotiations. The panel discussed the plans for the people forum to be held outside the Bella centre. A fair deal must include appropriate reparations to the developing world.

After the talks Ben and Lucy headed home to drop off bags, planning to return later for the party that was just getting started. Lorraine stayed behind to dance to the amazing beats and meet some samba-activist friends. Some time later, an announcement was made that the area was outside the tent was full of tear gas. The police had surrounded Christiania! We could hear bangs, a helicopter buzzed overhead, and reports from others indicated that the police had a water cannon. A barricade had been built by activists, and there were reports of things being thrown. The atmosphere was one of shock and fear, as police don't normally enter Christiania.

This was Lorraine's first experience with tear-gas, and she was very frightened, but more experienced European activists helped her by putting lemon under her eyes, and helping her to find her bicycle to get home. The most dramatic moment was just as she was about to reach an exit, and she realised the tops of all of the buildings had police on them, and the police were storming right into the centre, bringing dogs with them, and encircling the people present... they were about to cut off her escape route! Luckily a little climb over some stacked up tables (with bicycle), and she was on her way out. 10 seconds slower and she would have been detained. Police had declared the area a search zone, and were kicking down doors and windows to enter the buildings. Cycling back to town along the river it was apparent that the whole area was heavily surrounded by riot police and vans. It is difficult to see how the sheer numbers of riot police were on-site so quickly, unless this was a pre-planned raid.

More details: http://indymedia.dk/articles/1772

Monday, 14 December 2009

Day 9

Today we leapt out of bed bright and early as we had an appointment in the harbour with the Felmsburg students who sailed from Germany for the march. Although gloriously sunny it was extremely cold and icy. After circling the city centre a few times we found the quayside and the 3 wooden sailing ships chartered by the students which were moored closely to the Greenpeace Ice breaker, Arctic sunrise. The students excitedly told us of their adventures at sea and gave us the grand tour of the boats.

In order to raise the funds to sail to Copenhagen, the team had organised weekly campaigns for months in the city of Flensburg to raise awareness of the issue of climate change and sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The boats were beautiful wooden sailing vessels designed for fishing and were over 100 years old. Each boat had 15 bunks and beautiful well-stocked kitchens with wood burning stoves. The crews were of mixed ability, with some experienced offshore sailors and some not, but all three had experienced captains to guide them across the North Sea.

Next stop was a tour of the Arctic Sunrise, a 1970s ex-seal hunter and Ice breaker AKA the Arctic seasick, due to its lack of keel (needed to if it is to be an effective ice breaker). We were given a grand tour by the deck hand Paulo who regaled us with tales of saving whales, angry whalers with harpoon guns and high pressure hoses and scientific explorations around the poles.

This was also, sadly, Dougal’s final day in Copenhagen as he had to return to the UK to begin shooting for his music video (which the rest of us had been ribbing him about all week). He had to pack his bike up into a bag in order to be allowed on the train, which was then cancelled, and packed with other people looking to get home that weekend – hopefully he still made all his connections!

That evening we went to an event called Sitopia at the Dirt CafĂ© about food, the production of it and its relation to the climate. We had previously met a chap call John who was speaking at it, and he got us in to what was otherwise an invitation only affair. We all very much enjoyed the Sitopia event, and all the interesting speakers they had, who were from a wide variety of disciplines but who all had a common interest in food and its place in society and the environment. In particular, it’s worth checking out the book The Hungry City by Caroline Steele. Check out the blog here http://www.hungrycitybook.co.uk/blog/?page_id=9

There were a number of story-tellers sharing food related experiences and projects. One speaker, from a Copenhagen city social project, told how they were providing nutritious food to 60,000 Copenhagen residents in Nurseries, schools, hospitals and care homes with a budget of 40 Million Euros. The food is prepared in 1300 kitchens around the city. One of the key novel aspects of the scheme is the designation of food hosts (8000 in total for this project). The role of the hosts is to assist in making the consumption of the food provided a joyful and social experience – which could be described as an holistic approach to nutrition, with understanding of the importance of ritual and preparation that goes into the act of eating, and in direct contrast to the fast food culture that prevails in our current society. Currently the food provided is made from 60% organic ingredients. However it is hoped that by 2015 the produce will be 90% organic and locally sourced. They hope to spread the scheme throughout the rest of Denmark.

John Manooocheri, the sustainability consultant, lecturer and urban designer we had met the other night, gave his opinions on how to think about food in relation to good urban design. Check out one of John’s recent articles in the BBC green room on how it may be useful to think of saving the human race in terms of an issue in scale of importance and scientific thinking as the space race. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8351318.stm

Also speaking at the event was Clare Patey, from the Ministry of trying to do something about it giving her experiences of the many new food and allotment projects in London that have sprung up in recent years. Clare is the artist behind the clever carbon rationing booklets I love. Clare is currently seeking funding to roll out the project to a wider audience so if anyone can help then get in touch. Her website will be up and running soon:

All in all, an exhausting but thought provoking day. Copenhagen has definitely lived up to expectations so far. Tomorrow we plan to visit the Bella centre and see where the serious political action is taking place. Over and out. xxx