Campaigners cycle to Denmark for UN climate conference

People and Planet are gearing up for this week’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

Three members of the society, Owen Everett, Charlie Game and Jesse Meadows, will be cycling to the Danish capital. They will take a train to Harwich on Wednesday, where they will board an overnight ferry for Esbjerg. They will then have to bike and take the train across Denmark to reach Copenhagen by Saturday.

Owen Everett, Environment Campaigns Officer for the Students’ Union, said it was “immensely exciting”. The trio have been in training for the trip, but also hope that the flat landscape and cycle-friendly nature of Denmark will help them get across the country.

Jesse Meadows said she felt prepared, “I was very anxious about the cycle, especially going with two guys, but we’ve been training hard(ish!) and after cycling to Stratford and back last Sunday I feel like I’ve overcome mental and physical hurdles.”

The students will not attend the official conference itself, but will instead participate in events across the city.

They will relay developments back to their Warwick base. Everett said: “We originally were going to go to be there, and take part in a couple of protests… but we’ve refined that. We’ll be taking a video camera, we’ve set up a blog, hope to interview some people and we’re also volunteering at the Klima forum.”

He added: “It is really about the people. We’re going to be with a lot of people who feel the same way as us. Symbolically and tangibly we will be making our own progress”.

Eliza Swinn, Publicity Officer for People and Planet, said relaying information would allow Everett, Game and Meadows to have a “much bigger impact”.

The team left in England will be sending material to media outlets and staging protests to draw attention to the conference. Neither Swinn nor Everett were particularly optimistic about the outcomes of the Conference.

“Most commentators don’t expect there to be a big deal”, Everett said, “Before this was the big chance, but now it’s become another step”. Swinn said People and Planet hoped that “massive targets will be set” at the conference, adding, “the higher the better”.

Warwick will also have a presence inside the conference with students Emma Biermann and Bruno Leipold attending as delegates with the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) and the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change–Kenya, respectively.

Leipold, a second year PPE student, hopes to attend as many official meetings as possible and take part in organised demonstrations, youth specific events and interventions where young people can express their views.

He emphasised that Warwick students are part of the generation who will face the consequences of climate change: “This conference and the ones that follow will decide whether there is a next generation of Warwick students.”

The UN Climate Conference is taking place between 7th December and 18th December 2009. World leaders will be converging on Copenhagen, hoping to form an agreement on climate change and replace the Kyoto Treaty.


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