Global Civil Society Brandishes Utopian Vision, Promises Climate Action

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Reuters

Global Civil Society Brandishes Utopian Vision, Promises Climate Action

Clowns and Anti-Capitalists: Copenhagen's Other Meet

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A globe is placed on a table during the "Klimaforum09" conference in Copenhagen December 10, 2009. While negotiators with furrowed brows and dark suits work painfully toward a global climate deal at Copenhagen's Bella Centre, a different kind of summit is underway in a sports centre downtown. (REUTERS/Christian Charisius)

COPENHAGEN - While negotiators with furrowed brows and dark suits work painfully toward a global climate deal at Copenhagen's Bella Centre, a different kind of summit is underway in a sports centre downtown.

In the DGI-Byen complex, a panel of economists argue for no-growth economies, fresh-faced students blog furiously and dreadlocked women work in interpreter booths. A clown wanders past.

Welcome to Klimaforum, the alternative summit organised by 30 Danish non-governmental organisations and student groups to complement and challenge the official talks.

"We want to influence the process at the Bella Centre but we are also building a global civil society movement on climate change," said organiser Kristine Holten-Andersen. "We are succeeding on that."

The speaker line-up boasts the darlings of the anti-capitalist movement, including Vandana Shiva, George Monbiot and Naomi Klein, and will attract about 10,000 people from 92 countries over two weeks, she said.

While tensions rise at the official talks, the atmosphere at Klimaforum is optimistic.

"Go out and fight for Utopia!" cries one speaker, former Danish politician Niels I. Meyer, in a talk on why people should work fewer hours to cut consumption and drive down emissions.

Chief Bolivian government negotiator, Angelica Navarro, was treated to a round of applause when she said on Thursday that the root cause of climate change was capitalism.

"I am very glad to hear you because this is so hard to say in the Bella Centre," she said.

"I think what's going on in this room is the most important thing that's going on in Copenhagen," Naomi Klein, author of seminal anti-consumerism text No Logo, said on Thursday.

Christiane Oros, a German environmental engineer attending Klimaforum this week, said she was inspired by the alternative summit: "It's motivating for me and makes me want to look for what I can do afterwards in my life."

Editing by Janet Lawrence

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