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All aboard the Climate Express

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 06, 2009 10:55 PM
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Sam Fleet from Friends of the Earth Europe reports on an entertaining journey to the Danish capital all powered by renewable energy, champagne and jazz.

tom-picken-and-ceo-eurostarAt 08:00 on Friday morning my colleague and I found ourselves in the waiting room for the Climate Express from Brussels to Copenhagen. We were to be ‘eco-passengers’ on the Train to Copenhagen, and would travel direct, powered from renewable sources, with a plethora of events to entertain us en-route, before arriving in Copenhagen 14 hours later.

After dodging the camera crews, we settled into our seats, and prepared flyers and posters for the Friends of the Earth International ‘Flood for Climate Justice’ to spread around the train. I joined the champagne breakfast, accompanied by jazz, in the dimly lit dining car, as the train sped past the still, grey, sleepy Belgian countryside. During the day, a range of talks and presentations across two carriages would cover a range of topics, from climate science to urban transportation, and would continue right up until arrival in Copenhagen at 23:00.

The Climate Express was not as fast as the name implied: train-spotters in Aachen took the opportunity to film the unique Climate Express as it stopped to give way to numerous freight trains.


I photographed Tom Picken, the international climate campaigner from Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland, as he handed over our 40% study, showing that 40% emission cuts are possible in Europe, to the CEO of Eurostar, Richard Brown.



what are we doing in Copenhagen?

The majority of MEPs disembarked in Köln to return to Brussels, and were replaced by more passengers for the stretch to Copenhagen. The media moved from the front of the train to the rear to get a different perspective and the FoEE representatives found themselves in front of an Italian camera crew. The question being asked from the crew was simply,  “What will you be doing in Copenhagen?”


Tom provided a sane and sober response – urgent and deep emission cuts for developed countries, without offsetting; money for developing countries to adapt to the effects of climate change; forests out of carbon markets; public money to fight climate change through the UNFCCC, not the World Bank.


When they unexpectedly turned the camera on me, they received a mumbled, embarrassed and red-faced “demand climate justice”, which will no doubt be edited out. A good reason for all those in the FoEI delegation to familiarize themselves with the official FoEI messages and keep their cool in front of the cameras!

The Climate Express took on a very relaxed atmosphere towards the end of the journey, with the media circus calming down, and those remaining on the train until Copenhagen taking what would probably be the last chance for an evening nap. The same Italian TV crew from earlier debated whether the organic tagliatelle to be served for dinner would have been cooked since Köln, and therefore be well past its best – which was thankfully not the case.

My second embarrassing media interview commenced immediately after stepping out of the train into the Copenhagen drizzle, when a Japanese camera crew filmed me holding the ‘seal the deal’ bag that we had all been given on boarding. I tried to convince them that climate justice was more important than just any old deal, but it was lost on them.


For the rest of the COP I will try and stay behind the camera. Blogging is more my thing.


If you want to read our Copenhagen demands you can do so here


Image: Tom Picken presents the 40% study to the CEO of Eurostar. Copyright: Friends of the Earth International

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