Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Climate Camp in Trafalgar Square

According to the pagan calendar, winter is a time of inward-looking reflection. This can be a bit dangerous if, like me, you already have a tendency to 'tune out'.

As the grey lethargy of December deepens, I find that I am spending more and more time decamped to the remote regions of my mind. Tuning out has its up side; for instance, I find it easier to write when my inner world blots out my surroundings. The down side is that I risk losing myself so completely that whole days and weeks simply melt away. At times like this, it can be useful to be interrupted by world events. They can serve as a reminder that the clock is still ticking; that every moment I spend in make-belief limbo is a potential opportunity lost.

A couple of days ago, I received an email from an activist friend who has been working with the Climate Camp. For those of you who haven't already heard about Climate Camp, it is a mobile protest community which raises awareness around climate change and other environmental issues.

Climate Camp moved into Trafalgar Square last Saturday in order to voice its concerns about the COP15 climate change conference, which is currently taking place in Copenhagen. Like many other environmental groups, Climate Camp questions COP15's continuing support for a carbon trading scheme. And so it should.

While carbon trading has been wildly profitable for its enforcers, it has yet to produce even the slightest reduction in global carbon emissions. Despite this fact, the leaders of the world's richest countries are going to spend 11 very expensive days and nights bigging-up the failed scheme. The reason for their support is clear: carbon trading enables wealthy nations to buy their way out of reducing their carbon emissions. This means that the West can continue living in style while the world's poorer nations can continue living in sties. No change there, then.

The Climate Campers have some ideas of their own about which changes the COP15 delegates should be pushing for. Since they won't be able to speak at the conference, they have made Trafalgar Square a base camp for getting those ideas across. They are planning to stay put for as long as possible - hopefully up until the COP15 conference ends on December 18th. That means they will spend anywhere up to 13 days eating, sleeping and breathing climate change issues. No tuning out allowed.

This prospect shook me more than anything else I had read on Climate Camp's website. Being a dreamer by nature, I usually take refuge when I know I should be taking action. When a situation gets too ugly, I tend to revel in imaginary beauty. When events are beyond my control, I tend to soothe myself with imaginary security. It's like T.S. Eliot once said: "Humankind cannot bear too much reality." But tuning out of reality whenever it becomes unbearable is not the only option; we can always try to change it as well.


The Camp will be in the Square around the clock until December 18th. They appreciate any show of support, whether you’re just stopping by for a chat or setting up a tent next door. They welcome donations of vegan food, water, tea ,etc and offer free meals daily.

For more info, please visit the Climate Camp website.


  1. A visit to the Climate Camp definetely sounds like a good alternative to traipsing down Oxford Street staring at the overpackaged Christmas tat on sale :)

  2. Yep, and if you feel like playing Santa you can even leave a gift for them under the tree!