The Seattle demonstrations, during the 1999 WTO summit put alter-globalization on the international agenda and influenced negotiations for years. If the Copenhagen summit causes popular mobilization on such a massive scale, it could become the equivalent of Seattle for the environment – without the violence that occurred during the American summit, we hope. A lot of environmental NGOs (including GoodPlanet) are planning to send representatives to Copenhagen.
Some will be on-site as official observers, some will be there as delegates and some will simply be in the city’s streets taking part in various activities and demonstrations. Most of them will organise events in their country before and after the summit. However, for the moment, environmental movements mobilise a lot less people than other causes in the West.
Thus, big trade unions can make hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets. The movement against the 2003 war in Iraq mobilised several million people all around the world. In comparison, the tens of thousands of people protesting against global warming in London just seemed to be staging a performance. As long as politicians think that climate change is not really prominent in public opinion, they will hesitate to make the important necessary decisions: regardless of their personal convictions, they depend on their electors.
They evaluate the state of public opinion through votes, surveys and by observing demonstrations and other popular events. This is why it is important to get everyone mobilised. Obviously, authoritarian regimes like China’s do not react in the same way, even though they do consider public opinion, to a certain extent. This is another reason why we should take advantage of our freedom of speech.