In many cultures Sunday is the traditional day of rest, but not so if you are a climate change activist in Copenhagen. Due to where we were staying and the sheer number of people in the city it had been impossible up until now to find out any news. The irony of being just miles away from the biggest negotiations ever to take place on the future of our climate is that I actually know less about what is happening at the summit than those of you at home.
What had filtered through to us was the news that 900 people had been arrested. It wasn’t unexpected, particularly after having spent part of our journey being searched before being allowed to enter the country. We knew everyone was on high alert for the slightest senses of any trouble. However what is shocking was the way in which the police are reported to have dealt with it, and nobody I have spoken to saw any disturbances throughout the duration of the march. There was such a sense of community and determination not to let world leaders ignore our calls for a fair and ambitious deal that nobody was in the mood to do anything but enjoy the experience.
After moving accommodation, many of us headed back into the city centre to enjoy what we could of the last day in the city. Despite the cost I wish I had more time here to take in so many of the brilliant side events. Copenhagen has been transformed into a city that has openly embraced its place in the history of the climate change talks. Huge public displays of art can be found everywhere you look. Outside the Bella Centre the previous night we had seen a giant illuminated orange globe floating in the lake, an image that has been repeated across much of the city with projections even beamed on Tivoli Gardens.
This morning church leaders from around the world were addressing huge congregations in the city's cathedral, with speakers including Archbishop Rowan Williams and Desmond Tutu. The message that came out of this event was that everyone had a responsibility to act now to 'scale down the extravagant use of energy and levels of waste across the planet'. With world leaders due in just a matter of days for the culmination of these talks it was a message that summed up the general feeling of those of us marching the day before.
Once in the city centre, my first port of call was the KilmaForum, a conference centre that has been set up in order to inform activists and members of the public about all the issues surrounding climate change. There are a number of large seminar rooms holding talks on a range of issues from the future of food and agriculture to a discussion on 'the roots of global economic and social justice' in relation to climate change. There are workshops where people can talk and learn from experts in their field and there are exhibition spaces, many of which contain photos documenting the effect climate change is already having on communities around the world. At one stall they asked you to sign a petition card to world leaders to act by saying what you pledged to do yourself. As I don't have a car and I can't remember the last time I flew anywhere I picked something that had caught my imagination this summer - I pledged to grow more of my own vegetables.
The KilmaForum was also one of the places that people could get some decent food for a reasonable price. But for me, best of all was the access to free internet - the centre had become a hive for bloggers wishing to share their experience and update themselves on the latest information coming out of COP15. It was the first time I'd seen any news since Thursday morning and watching the news coverage I was thankful I had avoided the disturbances of the night before. I could finally get a rough idea of what had been happening in the building that we had protested outside. Whilst i was sat there news came through that yet another group of people had been arrested. It was no secret that as the following week progressed there were already plans for more direct action.
After updating my blog from the day before I set off for the city centre to view more of the art. One striking feature of this summit is that wherever you are you will see a unique piece of work designed to remind you of what is happening just down the road. At night, the Tivoli Gardens had been illuminated with projections of waves and wind farms. Just as I was passing, from an image or flickering candles in the dark came the message 'the time is now'. I strolled a little further down the same road to the City Hall square where Hopenhagen Live had been set up. At the centre of the square was a giant globe depicting the world and displaying messages from around the world. The rest of the space was taken up by lots of glass cabins, each holding a different workshop. I found one that was designed specifically for children, taking old computers or other materials and encouraging children to build something new by recycling them and taking them to bits for the parts. Another encouraged young people to try out a remote-controlled fuel cell boat, whilst the playground focused on stories about energy by Hans Christian Andersen. Each section had its own inspirational theme and at the centre of the square in the shadow of the globe stood a traditional Christmas tree covered in twinkly lights. But as you would expect this was no ordinary Christmas tree - around the bottom were a number of bikes that were connected to the lights. In order for this tree to shine people had to put the hard work in and create energy by peddling.
I could have stayed in Hopenhagen all day but i knew there was still lots that I wanted to see. As well as the larger displays there are a number of small installations dotted all over the city. Just minutes away from Hopenhagen I came across one made of recycled rubbish and another putting the spotlight on the melting ice. I didn't linger long as the cold was really beginning to bite. My aim was to head to the central square where I knew there was an amazing exhibition of unique globes. Each one had been designed by a different artist to represent climate change - some were beautifully illustrated with species that will become endangered whilst others were made of recycled net or mosaic tiles.
On my way to find something to eat for the night I came acrross the installation that recently graced Trafalgar Square. A forest of dead trees with tangled roots were illuminated in front of one of the museums in the city. Their twisted shapes looked beautiful and strangely eery. Having seen them in London only a few weeks before it was a shame that their setting didn't quite have the same impact, but they were still magnificent.
As I finished my last day in Copenhagen, a number of things had struck me about this city - firstly, just how beautiful it is. I also read in Hopenhagen that its intentions are to be completely carbon neutral by 2025 and from what I had seen this week they are one of the best placed European cities if not countries to achieve this. Not only are they very progressive when it comes to making cycling easier in the city, I get a real sense that this is also a warm and friendly community to be in. During the march the previous day so many parents had brought their children - surprising was the sheer amount of very young children and babies who were pushed in carriers attached to bicycles around the route, far more than I had ever seen on any previous demonstration. But as I spent more time there I soon came to realise that this is a culture that is also very child and family friendly It's no wonder that they score so highly on many of the child wellbeing surveys that are constantly being conducted.
If I had to choose a place to bring home to world leaders just how important it is that we get a binding and ambitious deal on climate change in order to protect future generations I couldn't have thought of a more inspirational place.