The Copenhagen Experience Dec 12- 19th 2009

On Saturday 12th December 2009 an estimated 100,000 persons assembled in Copenhagen for a march in support of Climate Justice. There were many Charities and NGOS present and CAFOD had taken a group of 35 persons on the long coach journey from London to Copenhagen.

On the night of arrival the group attended Mass at Copenhagen Catholic Cathedral and afterwards a reception in the church hall which was attended by members of Caritas International. There were two archbishops (one from Copenhagen and one from Uganda) four bishops and a large number of lay people happy to greet those who had come to take part in the march the following day. The Danish people were models of welcome and hospitality.

The march of some 6 kilometres was very interesting. It gets dark early in Denmark and the weather was cold, although it would become much colder as the days progressed. Assembling for the march took a long time and the marchers were “entertained” by speeches, singers, and “cheer leaders. At last the march began and the CAFOD group was kept together by Kevin Mc McCullough who managed to steer us away from the small amount of violence which did occur. The Danish police were well prepared and acted decisively where necessary. For the CAFOD group, the march was trouble free, although very demanding on the feet and ankles!

On Sunday 13th some of the group accompanied Desmond Tutu in handing in the petition cards to the UN representative. In the evening after a communal supper Celia Deane DrummondCafod Theologian offered a reflection on Climate Change and Climate Justice to the group, most of whom were then leaving to return to England by coach.

There was great disappointment that the FAB deal did not materialise and for many people the disappointment was profound. Many nations, including the UK had been prepared to promise cuts in CO2 emissions and to make money available to help poorer countries(who are most affected by the results of climate change) to take steps to protect their people by precautionary measures, better buildings and cyclone shelters for example.

The last members of CAFOD left Copenhagen on the weekend 18th -20th December. I left a snowy Copenhagen on Friday 18th arriving in London on Saturday after an eventful 10 days where I learned so much about Climate justice and those working for it and also about the work of CAFOD. The time spent in journeying to and from Copenhagen and being involved in some of the work there has left me with deep respect for and appreciation of the work of CAFOD and for a number of people who are members of staff, in particular for Maria Elena and Paschale, Kevin and Sophie, Lucy and Katy. I am deeply grateful to them for their support and concern.

Sr. Mary Alphonsus OP