Derek – Friday 29th October 2021

COP26 starts on October 30 and is due to finish on 12 November, but is likely to extend through that weekend with all the arguments and attempts at getting coherent policy from the differing interests.

In 2009, I went to Copenhagen with the Campaign Against Climate Change. This was COP15, and we were there for the big march. We weren’t going to fly there. That really would be anathema, with the carbon footprint of aviation, definitely out.

A French group had hired a train. We went by Eurostar and joined their train in Brussels. The journey took 19 hours, which is not as bad as it sounds, as a lot of this was overnight when we slept. I am not much good at sleeping on trains, but it can’t have been too bad as I barely remember the journey out.

I had prepared for the march by writing some chants. These are not works of erudition, far from it, doggerel really, but they are chants to give us a collective feeling and inform the crowd as we march. Here’s one:


We know what to do

Cut back CO2!


The guy with the loudhailer gives the first line and the crowd around come back with the response. That’s the theory. Would they work at COP15? I had a few Brits around me, but loads of Danes too. A little nervously, I took the loudhailer and taught my fellow marchers the chant. They were up for it. Great.

I tried another, one more adventurous:


Come on, Lads and Lasses

No more greenhouse gases!


I had my doubts on this. What would all those Danes make of Lads and Lasses? I am sure most of them had no idea what they were, but they knew they didn’t want greenhouse gases. And so came back with the response.

I had about six chants, and for half an hour or so, had fun going from one chant to another, once the marchers around me knew them.

My favourite chant, not one of mine, is:


Keep the coal in the hole

Keep the oil in the soil.


The march was about five miles long, through Copenhagen. We were halted about half a kilometre from where the world leaders were meeting. Cops stopped us getting to the COP.

Copenhagen is a great city for cycling, with bike lanes and lots of free bikes. It’s not so good for vegetarians, all those pigs I suspect. Everyone speaks English, even a woman serving in a bakery, shaming us Brits with our poor language skills.

I thought at the time that COP15 stood for Copenhagen. Makes sense, doesn’t it? It wasn’t until there were further COPs that I realised it didn’t. This is what it actually stands for: Conference of the Parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. COPs have met yearly since 1992 with the exception of last year due to covid.

At least Biden is on board this time round. The major fossil fuel producers including Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia will fight any strengthening of goals. China is in a push-me-pull-you situation, wanting to be good but not yet. Which is the situation with much of the world.

But there’s always a chance that our leaders may want to save the world from burning up this time. There’s a big march on Saturday, November 6 in London, part of the Global Day for Climate Justice with marches across the world. Meet 11.30 am, Finsbury Circus Gardens, EC2M 7DT. You can use my slogans.

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