Global environmental challenges
Sleeping next to activists in Copenhagen
There’s no concierge, no bellboy nor even a check-in counter. There’s no lobby, nor mini-bar and not even any heating. But despite the lack of amenities there was still something special about sleeping alongside 2,000 other climate change activists in an empty warehouse in an industrial section of northwest Copenhagen last night.
It’s cold, loud and dusty. But the price is unbeatable and so is the atmosphere. You could say they were all happy campers.
There’s no charge but donations are welcome. There’s even breakfast available, a delicious porridge concoction. And even free wireless, which is helping me get this post written. Last night I managed to find a fairly empty corner on the cold cement floor of this drafty warehouse shortly before midnight but by the time I woke up at 7 a.m. there were hundreds more activists in sleeping bags crowded around me. They had been streaming in through the night.
One of the organisers just announced that there were 500 more activists from Britain due to arrive within the next few hours. “So could you please try to make some space for them by moving your sleeping bags together,” he said through a megaphone.
There are several such “communal accommodations” set up around Copenhagen this weekend — all the hotels and hostels have been booked out for months. Word at the train station last night was that several were already full but this one, called Ragnhildgade, still had space available.
Despite the near-freezing temperatures both inside and outside the warehouse, there’s an incredibly positive atmosphere going into today’s rallies around the city. There were a few complaints about the chill but otherwise most seemed unperturbed by the lack of creature comforts.
“I couldn’t just stay home and do nothing,” said one demonstrator from Sweden, shivering in the cold while charging up her cell phone on a set of communal plugs. “I had to be here. But it’s really cold. I’ve lived in squats that had better heating than this. I hope they get something sorted out by tonight.” Another activist from Germany added: “Who knows if the demonstrations will do any good? Who knows if any of those who are making the decisions will even notice us? But I didn’t want to miss the chance to do something about climate change.”