Bernard White, a CAFOD Southwark Volunteer, writes of his journey to Copenhangen

A group of about 45 of us set off at about 7pm from Brixton in a coach bound for the climate change talks in Copenhagen, all set to carry CAFOD’s climate justice message to the politicians meeting there last week and this. We had a 19 hour coach journey ahead of us but we were all very excited to be going.   Coach weary but delighted to be in Copenhagen, we carried our luggage into the school hall where we were to sleep on the floor on our sleeping bags, and then all of us rushed into the basement of the Church next door where Maria Elena had cooked a wonderful pasta meal for us.   Saturday was march day and at about mid day we joined the Caritas Internationalis group who had hosted a reception the previous evening to welcome us to Copenhagen. Carrying there elegant but very heavy banners and our CAFOD hands, we made our way to the start of the march.   We had heard in the morning that the discussions so far had become very political and were at risk of stalling. America wouldn’t give anything to China who need green technology skills to reduce their emissions, and the EU weren’t sure whether to ask for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, which is what they really wanted, because they might be politically favoured if they first asked for 20%. These are just two examples.  

Standing in the main square in Copenhagen waiting for the march to start it all seemed to be so clear and really not that difficult to understand and implement. We have to cut emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020, and we have to give financial aid to people in developing countries to help them adapt to the effects of the climate change they are now suffering but have not caused, and to develop themselves in a sustainable way. The UN tells us that that figure is US$195 a year, starting now. That’s not a lot when you start looking at what we spend globally on things like pet care. And all of this must be legally binding

“If we don’t do this, millions will die and millions more will lose everything they own. So how can the politicians make it all so difficult? Every step of the four  hours or so we were marching I thought, stop bickering and just do it.

It was very impressive. Lively but peaceful apart, I am told, from a handful, who were a fraction of a percentage of the 100,000 who marched. There were banners everywhere and all I could hear were the constant calls for climate justice. Kevin, head of campaigns at CAFOD, did a magnificent job to make sure that we all managed to stay together during the march and afterwards. It was all inspirational and I felt proud and elated.

Sunday morning we had the privelege of listening to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. What a brilliant speaker. “God is weeping” he said, “when he looks down on Darfur, on Zimbabwe and Afganistan, and he says, “Why did I create these people if all they do is fight and squabble amongst themselves?” But when he looks down on the 100,000 in Copenhaged this weekend, God is smiling again.”

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