Copenhagen: Demand for Climate Justice

Copenhagen: Demand for Climate Justice

ACT International is calling on world leaders at Copenhagen to take action now to stop climate change, challenging them to clean up the climate for the sake of millions of the world’s poorest people.

ACT International is calling on world leaders at Copenhagen to take action now to stop climate change, challenging them to clean up the climate for the sake of millions of the world’s poorest people.

Around 18 ACT members from northern and southern countries are in the Danish capital for COP15, the 15th UN Climate Change Conference.   Several ACT members have stands, all with a similar message: climate change is hurting most those people least able to afford life-saving measures to cope with the effects of climate change. 

In line with statements from APRODEV, a European organisation of humanitarian agencies, ACT says this is the last chance the world has to keep global temperatures rises to below 2degC.  The demand is for government leaders to bring about a fair and effective deal at over the following fortnight. 

ACT International members will have a presence throughout the talks, with a stand focusing on how local people are working to counter the effects of climate change.  ACT Director John Nduna has three days of high-level ecumenical meetings.  He heads to Copenhagen on December 12, with a strong message from the people most affected by climate change but whose voices are least heard.

“Everyone must take action now.  It’s a matter of justice.  It’s already too late for millions of people in the developing world who need assistance adapting to the changed climate.   We need a fair and effective climate change agreement that will halt, or at least stem, this change.  Funding is also needed if vulnerable communities are to confront future threats.

“What steps, what measures are we taking to ensure we are not making matters worse?  Mitigation is crucial.  It is the whole issue of reducing our carbon footprint and emissions and increasing measures to produce renewable energy,” Mr Nduna says.

ACT says agreement in Copenhagen must serve the interests of the worlds’ most vulnerable communities by: 

  • Recognising that adapting and mitigating to climate change are linked and are equally important. 
  • Enhancing financial and technical support for adaptation to ensure an equitable agreement. This means that any agreement on adaptation relating to risk management must include disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness. 
  • Providing means for those affected by climate change to be involved in seeking adaptation solutions.
  • Disaster risk reduction, preparedness and response are vital front-line defences for vulnerable communities, especially in risk-prone parts of the world.


The first day of talks opened with Danish Prime Minister Loekke Rasmussen saying the summit was one the world could not afford to miss.  To discuss emissions targets and financial measures to combat climate change.

The BBC reported that a number of African delegations are backing the argument made by small island states that 2degC will bring major impacts to their countries.  This would be a huge obstacle, because none of the industrialised countries have put forward emission cuts in the range that would be required to meet a 1.5degC target.  The African Union has said industrialised countries must help poor ones pay for the transition to cleaner economies – and has threatened to walk out of the talks if it does not get what it wants.


Among the main events, ACT member Norwegian Church Aid is sailing a cruise liner from Oslo to Copenhagen on December 12. Close to 2000 politicians, church leader, scientists and activists will be aboard and will occupy the 16 hour crossing with discussions, debates and performances. During the stay in Copenhagen the “climate sailors” will take part in planned activities.

On December 15, a series of combined events run by the UN and NGOs will draw attention to the human impact of climate change and that urgent action is needed.  The day will feature a host of children voicing their concerns for the future, and hold adults to account for the state of the planet, debates and discussions and press conferences on adaptation and displacement.  


From the high security summit in the Bella Center to activist happenings on the streets – COP15 takes place all over Copenhagen.  ACT member DanChurchAid recommends a number of public access events in Copenhagen during the climate summit:

December 7-18: Climate Forum ’09 – The alternative climate summit with lectures, open debates, exhibitions, and the chance to meet people from Africa, Asia and Latin America experiencing climate change. Climate Forum 09 is the civil society counterpart of the official UN conference in the Bella Center. Countdown to Copenhagen, the international climate justice campaign will be present. ACT will have a stand at the forum.

December 10 and 11:  Climate Refugee Camp – DanChurchAid activists focus on the first victims of climate change by building a camp for climate refugees at a central square in Copenhagen.  Activities, a speakers’ corner and a lounge with DJs playing world music are highlighted. 

December 12: Demonstration “Planet First – People First” – a peaceful demonstration for a fair and serious climate deal.  Countdown to Copenhagen group sets off from Frue Plads at 12h30. First stop is the Danish Parliament at Christiansborg, where it joins the other demonstrations.

December 13: Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu hands over 250,000 signatures from the international campaign Countdown to Copenhagen, led by APRODEV and the World Council of Churches, to the UN’s top climate change official, Yvo de Boer.  This is followed by a free concert.   From 14h00, an ecumenical service will be held at the Vor Frue church.  Copenhagen’s Cathedral will be full of church leaders, political leaders, NGOs and even royalty, when Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivers his sermon.  The service focuses on the churches involvement in fighting climate change.  It will be screened on Danish television.

That day, churches around the world, starting in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, will ring church bells 350 times to represent the call to cap emissions.  In Denmark, the bells begin tolling at 15h00.

For more information please contact:
Tomm Kristiansen
ACT International communications officer

Sandra Cox
ACT International assistant communications officer