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Naomi Klein Kick-Starts the Activism at Copenhagen with Call for Disobedience

If Seattle was the coming out party, this should be the coming of age party, Klein told the Klimaforum09 last night

The Copenhagen deal may turn into the worst kind of disaster capitalism, Naomi Klein said last night. In her speech to Klimaforum09, the "people's summit" she told the thousand or so campaigners and activists that this was a chance to carry on building the new convergence, the movement of movements that began "all those years ago in Seattle, fighting against the privatisation of life itself". Here was an opportunity to "continue the conversation that was so rudely interrupted by 9/11".

Speaking at Klimaforum09's opening ceremony in Copenhagen Naomi Klein told the audience: 'Let's not restrict ourselves to polite marches and formulaic panel discussions.' (Photograph: Mark Knudsen/Klimaforum09) "Down the road at the Bella Centre [where delegates are meeting] there is the worst case of disaster capitalism that we have ever witnessed. We know that what is being proposed in the Bella Centre doesn't even come close to the deal that is needed. We know the paltry emissions cuts that Obama has proposed; they're insulting. We're the ones who created this crisis... on the basic historical principle of polluters pays, we should pay."

Around the city, opening events were kicking off a fortnight of negotiations, debate and protest. In the morning Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the IPCC, and Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the prime minister of Denmark, opened the conference with a plea for action.

Later, in the centre of town special UN envoy Gro Harlem Brundtland and climate change UN chief Yvo de Boer declared the heavily branded Hopenhagen open, as a globe bearing a large Siemens logos was illuminated. The popular Danish band Nephew kicked off (to bigger cheers than Brundtland or de Boer).

And in the evening Klein joined with Henry Saragih, the general convenor of the Via Campesina movement, and international Friends of the Earth chair Nnimmo Bassey, to declare Klimaforum09 the "real event in Copenhagen".

Saragih called for food sovereignty - greater power for small farmers - and said that changes to agricultural practices could reduce carbon emissions by up to 50%.

Bassey said that crude oil only appeared cheap because we do not pay the true price, and told the audience; "Leave the oil in the soil, leave the coal in the hole, leave the tarsand in the land". And Klein finished up:

We have to be the lie detectors here. Let's not restrict ourselves to polite marches and formulaic panel discussions. If Seattle was the coming out party, this should be the coming of age party. And, as a friend of mine called John Jordan says, I hope that we have grown up to be even more disobedient. Why are thousands of us burning fossil fuels to get here? Because we have to build a global mass movement that will not allow leaders to get away with what they are trying to get away with. Think of it as the mother of all carbon offsets.

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