Emma Graham-Harrison

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Copenhagen’s melting mermaid

December 7, 2009
A sculpture of The Little Mermaid melts outside climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark

A sculpture of The Little Mermaid melts outside climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Little Mermaid perched outside the climate talks in Copenhagen is slowly melting. An ice tribute to the Danish capital’s famous waterfront statue, her creators hope she will remind the besuited delegates filing into the opening session what is at stake in the two weeks of talks.

“She is the symbol of global warming,” said Rudiger Rosenthal from Friends of the Earth Germany, who plans to keep watch until she is reduced to nothing more than a puddle.  He expects it to take two or three days.

The summit on which so many hopes have been pinned began on a cold, overcast December morning, with a light drizzle adding to the gloom.

But outside the conference centre a small handful of activists were braving the weather to drum, chant, pose, stage an impromptu play and even hand out coffee to jet-lagged delegates — all in a bid to up the pressure to reach a strong, binding deal.

Activists from ActionAid dressed as flashy debt collectors in red suits and matching sunglasses paraded a banner saying “rich countries pay your climate debt”.

Activists set up a green gateway marked “Vote Earth” and a red one marked “Global Warming” for arriving delegates, and told off anyone who chose to walk through the red one.

And group of Greenpeace youth protestors gathered from countries including Fiji, China, Brazil and the United States, were drumming out a call for action on reclaimed container drums and tin cans.

“Climate justice now” ”   “Take action, take action” they chanted over the beat of their impromptu instruments.

“Climate justice is what our generation wants and needs,” said Abigail Gay Jabines, from the Philippines, who has been organising the group of 44 young people in round-the-clock actions since last Saturday.

“We are going to shout and persist in challenging world leaders until it’s over so if they don’t come up with a binding treaty, it’s not our fault, it’s not our failure.”