This audio interview conducted by Mobile phone on Monday evening covers the protests at the COP15 summit in Copenhagen. Ronan who was a member of WSM in Ireland has been living in Denmark for a year and a half and is involved in a new Libertarian Socialist group and the local infoshop in the autonomous Youth House.
Our interviewee gets nicked on Saturday along with 960+ others
The following is NOT a transcription of an interview but some rough notes that I jotted down while editing it that will give you a sense of the ground covered in the audio file. The audio itself is about 25 minutes in duration.
Who is in Copenhagen in terms of both delegates and protesters?
Big division between protesters and representatives of civil society. Politicans don't seem to taking it seriously, downplaying it as they know there won't be a deal. Top people not here.
What sort of protests are taking place?
There have been dozens of actions, hard to keep track of. Big range of goals and tactics. Friday started with anti capitalist demonstration, big peaceful demonstration on Saturday to hand in petition. Actions from Via Campesino, a No Borders demonstration.
What were the circumstances of the arrests on Saturday
Bizarre situation that made little sense. Supposed to be seperate Black Bloc action. 50-100,000 on peaceful demonstration, Black Bloc demonstration n ordered to join it by one group of police which resulted in another group of police attacking the demonstration. They split it into three sections and arrested the two rear sections totaling about 900 people.
Some of the 900 arrested left on streets for several hours before driven to holding cells and then moved to cages in a warehouse, the 'climate prison' which was like dog kennels. People were released at a badly connected train station at 3 in the morning but an ABC group ferried people into the city in cars.
What about arrests on Sunday morning?
That happened as part of a civil disobedience demonstration to block a port. Police decided this wasn't going to happeing and attacked demonstration arresting everyone.
What do you see as the key issues around climate change?
Food crisis is a big issue as weather patterns change and agricultural yields fluctuate wildly. Food prices are rising sharply. This will lead top famine and starvation and social unrest in the developed world. A decrease in the supply of drinkable water and flood are other big issues. You've seen that in Ireland. Extreme weather will be a big issue for some areas.
Do you think anything useful will come out of the talks?
No. The politicians are downplaying them, agreement would be on carbon trading which are useless, it just creating a market. Kyoto hasn't slowed down emissions at all.
What do you think the left should be arguing for in relation to climate change?
We need to turn the climate change issue into a fight on practical issues. It's been quite rooted in summit hoping mindset of activism, focused on big events like Climate Camps. This has allowed the class orientated left wing to dismiss climate change issues as unimportant. We should be trying to give them a class content eg by fighting for free public transport.
Increased prices for food and water are fundammentally class issues and could be a basis for a broader movement. We can show climate change is caused by capitalism and that the solutions recreate the old problem of transferring wealth to the global elite.
There is some engagement with groups like workers climate action. Also the Visteon occupation, the closure of a wind turbine factory demonstrates the irrational nature of capitalism. The Turbulence collective have done some good stuff.
Do you think climate change can be controlled within a capitalist global economy?
Unfortuantely no, the basis of capitalism is constantly increasing production which means increasing the consumption of resources. Environmental costs are externalised, pollution is being relocated to the third world. Legislation leads to environmental crime as companies break laws. Mafia scuttling toxic waste boats, deaths due to toxic sludge in Nigeria, computer 'recycling' in Africa. World Bank arguing for dumping in poorer countries because poor are worth less.
What do you expect to be the most useful thing to come out of Copenhagen (talks & protests)?
Nothing positive coming out of the talks, we should look to the mobilisations and the opportunity to meet and network they provide. Hopefully the movement will be based on day to day issues and not summits, this is quite likely as this debate already happened in relation to the globalisation movement. The issue is easier to tie into daily life, eg Heathrow airport extension.