Posted by: vickim57 | 20 December 2009

A visit to the Climate Camp in Trafalgar Square

Throughout the Copenhagen climate talks Climate Campers and Vestas workers supporters, including Marina Pepper, Justin Moody and Arbo, maintained a camp in Trafalgar Square to highlight the issues to the central London public. It was called the COP OUT CAMP OUT.

Here is an account of a number of visits made to the camp, published on http://www.ameliasmagazine.com/earth/copping-out-the-latest-from-trafalgar-square/2009/12/13/

Copping Out: The latest from Trafalgar Square
What’s happening down at the COP OUT Camp out
Sunday December 13th, 2009 6:01 pm

Waking on Friday morning I can tell by the sunlight streaming into my room that for a change it’s a bright and clear day, good news for those taking part in the COP OUT down at Trafalgar square. I’ve been going back and forth from the square since last Saturday, the day when following the hugely successful event ‘The Wave’, in which around 40,000 decked out in blue descended on Parliament to demand direct action against climate change, the resilient bunch that is Climate Camp went the extra mile and set up camp right between Nelson’s Column and that giant Christmas tree. Known as the ‘hardy types’ the next day in The Sunday Times, they popped up their tents, hung up their banners and got the tea going on a make-shift stove.

By the time I arrived on Sunday, learned a few names and attempted to help out in the kitchen-tent, which for me involved eating cous cous, (which was amazing) and X-factor related chit-chat, it was clear the original planned 48-hour stay was a given and this was just the tip of the melting iceberg. After a quick meeting in the afternoon drizzle, the resolution was clear; the campers would continue to occupy Trafalgar Square until the end of the Copenhagen Summit on the 19th, meaning a 2 week stay. As the meeting broke-up and everyone started to busy themselves in preparation for the ‘alternative’ carol service that evening, I began to wonder how on earth this was going to pan out; how the group would manage to stay in The Square without it ending in them being dragged away by the authorities, kicking and screaming.

Upon my arrival on Monday, I learned I couldn’t have been more wrong. I glimpsed from the crossing on The Strand a small huddle and a flash of day-glow yellow and thought, “yikes”, this spells trouble. However all it really meant was what seemed to be a friendly discussion with a police man and a police woman who just wanted to know what was going on, but warned that the Greater London Authority planned an eviction notice for around 4.00 that afternoon. The camp by now was certainly smaller; the kitchen was reduced to a stove for tea and many loaves of organic bread, which had been donated by a local bakery. However still lots of the same determined faces, one of which was Marina who won me over on Sunday in the meeting, she is animated and commands attention, and I generally gravitate toward her and pester her about the latest goings on. Still no word from the GLA, I get handed a leaflet by a smiley chap in a blue suit whose name I didn’t catch about what I should do if I am to be arrested, “eek”, is trouble a brewing? No, that’s just the tea. Still no word so I trudge home in the rain.

Tuesday morning and a guy in a polar bear suit has joined the camp, word is he was protesting against Tar Sands outside the nearby Canada House. Marina updates her Twitter telling how the bear has given her some shoes, as hers were soaked (her tent is by a fountain), what a bear indeed!

A few new faces have appeared and the numbers are still good, the GLA eventually deliver letters to the tents saying they cannot camp in the square without permission, but it’s not an eviction notice. I rush back to work because it’s the launch of Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration later at Concrete Hermit, which goes down a treat complete with Adnam’s carbon neutral beer. On Wednesday I’m running late for work after accompanying my pal Katie to the station, so I don’t get down to the COP OUT. I hear they’ve called up Boris Johnson but he’s in Copenhagen.

Come Thursday morning and the GLA are after the names of the campers, like they are going to tell them. Jenny Jones of the Green Party was also down there making cups of tea. I head down on Friday and the camp is buzzing. After an amazing week of action, negotiation and discussion it is time to bid farewell to those off to Copenhagen, and what better way than with a special lunch. A new kitchen has sprung up as well as yet more new faces, eager to get involved. I get a leaflet about the ‘Feeding the 5000’ event that is taking place next Wednesday the 16th, in which waste food will be used to prepare delicious meals. So with one more week in The Square what is in store? Who knows but Climate Camp still needs volunteers, as well as useful items such as water bottles, blankets etc. All week they’ve been joining forces with other groups that occupy Trafalgar Square during the festive season, from The Salvation Army to Hare Krishna’s to collectively push for effective solutions to the climate crisis.

On Monday at 10.00am, in solidarity with the activists in Copenhagen, will be an open action taking place in The Square and at Canada House to protest against the use of Tar Sands. In order to develop these large deposits of sticky crude oil rainforests the size of our country will have to be cut down, as well as the extraction and processing of just one barrel of Tar Sands equalling 3 barrels of natural gas and 4 barrels of water; do the maths, it equals bad news for planet earth.

With COP15 in full swing those remaining in the UK need to get together and stand against the further destruction of our planet. So if that sounds like your cup of tea, why not go down to Trafalgar Square and tell your friends, as the COP OUT will only succeed if people lend as much or as little of their time as they can.

Written by Grace Beaumont


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