Tradition has it that at each UNFCCC summit, passionate environmentalists, young and old, congregate together on the middle Saturday of the conference and march towards the convention centre. The message they hope to convey to negotiators is that the pressure is on and civil society is watching.
Camilla Born, a delegate with UKYCC who marched on Saturday, explained further saying, “whilst the UN can play a key role, it will only hold weight supported by a chorus of diverse voices.”
“A march is one of many vital actions that we can all take to enable success in preventing catastrophic climate change,” she continued highlighting the importance of public pressure.
In 2009, COP15 drew crowds of an estimated 50,000 people marching to the Bella Centre in Copenhagen. This year’s activity only saw 2,000 people which is about double the number of people who were actually arrested in Copenhagen.
A range other environment and community based groups took part, with some attendees hailing from distances as far as Northern Sweden to as close as the suburbs of Warsaw. There was a special train service that was organised to shuttle participants from Brussels to Warsaw and back; this resulted in 800 Belgians participating.
This year’s protest was particularly focused on drawing attention to the accused coal-washing of this COP. Drumming, dancing and singing encouraged a cheerful atmosphere, which was in stark contrast to the sinister taste that the Polish Independence Day marches had left earlier in the week on international delegates.
Despite this peaceful ambience, the police presence was still protuberant and police vans lined the avenue leading up to the stadium. The plausible rumour that a 2000 strong police force was in attendance bounced around the crowd, but despite the grossly unnecessary police presence, the friendly mood prevailed until long after the sun had set over Warsaw on Saturday evening.
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By Jade Neville, photo by Andrew Johnson.