Day 3 – Hamburg – Lüneburg

We left our kind hosts ADFC, the General German Cycle Club, with a festival feel as the streets of Hamburg were cleared for the public holiday, giving us a taste of what it could be like with few cars on the road and more space to cycle through cities at your leisure.

The ships had started to enter the harbor for the city of Hamburgs port birthday celebrations and accompanying us today were 4 members of the Norderstedt critical mass group, who joined us for the day. With 2 more cooperiders joining the ride at this point, we totaled 17. The car free moments kept coming as we took the Old Elbe Tunnel under the river, closed traffic for the holiday. A feat of engineering in its day.

A Beautiful 45 km through the countryside alongside the rivers Elbe and Immenau with a lunch break on the banks of the river Elbe. Idyllic scene after idyllic scene greeted us after every turn. Families, children and elderly were all out enjoying the sunny day. The cooperide spirit of supporting each other, cooperation and good humour was ever present on our third puncture of the day, which brought out creative human ingenuity. While some learnt to juggle, others used foam, two inner tubes and duct tape to get us on our way again.

We were warmly welcomed in Lüneburg by the members of a newly formed collective. Providing us with a bed for the night and an evening fresco dining experience in their farm, a beautiful, special place. We wish them well on their adventure setting up a home together.

20160505230553

Day 2 – Travemünde – Hamburg

This night we spent on the ferry “Nils Holgersson” that took us from Sweden to Lübeck-Travemünde, Germany. After we had had some unexpected diffculties checking in as we had to pretend to be a car, struggled with bar code scanning and cycling for kilometres along parked lorries, we enjoyed a good night’s rest in a fairly comfartable bed in a ferry cabin. Agaist all forecasts, we saw beautiful sunshine touching the sea surface in the morning. We had some nice breakfast onboard and nice scenery-watching from the ferry, and finally headed off with a little delay from the port on our 80 km stretch towards Hamburg. Passing another hundreds of lorries, we cycled through the outskirts of Lübeck, along IKEAS and green parks. Soon we met our two new day riders Timo and Malte, who we welcomed with our new ritual of letting yourself  fall against the others in a circle. Our tour went on in fantastic early summer weather, through the blossoming rapeseed fields of rural Holstein.


A little break gave us new strength for the next hour to our lunch stop at Jochen’s friend Uli. She welcomed us with so much warmth from the heart, offered us home-made tomato soup, coffee and cake on the terace. Yummy! We felt so grateful, lucky and privileged too enjoy this hospitality. Laying in the garden for a nap, we felt sorry to set off to Hamburg. However, we had gained so much new energy so that just an hour later we hit Hamburg’s city borders. Still in the Green belt, we passed manor houses, farms and hiking paths. We passed the suburbs and soon found ourselves in dizzling traffic. Fortunately, we hit a track along the Alster lake in the end and enjoyed a well-earned ice-cream before arriving at the office of the German cyclists association (ADFC) in the city centre. We enjoyed dinner and soon welcomed people for a screening of the renowned movie Bike vs. Cars. It showcases cyclists’ associations around the globe in their fight for bike-friendly cities. We also presented the Cooperide idea to the local comrades and felt much support. It is this special support that gives us so much strength for our journey.

_MG_4507

Day 1 – On the Road again

Cooperide goes to Ende Gelände’ has officially taken off  with a successful and inspiring action which revolved around symbolically carrying the Parisian ‘Red Lines’ to Vattenfall in Malmö. Holding the red textile, we marched silently to Vattenfall’s office, where we laid down flowers to commemorate and express our solidarity with the past, present and future victims of climate injustice. Thus we connected the conclusion of our previous ride in December with our current goal of materializing the agreement of the COP21 by holding Vattenfall responsible for their coal mining business in Lusatia, Germany, and demanding the phasing out of coal mining.

_MG_4426

14 cyclists left Malmö towards Trelleborg for this 35km ride. Our mood was good, uplifted by the wind in our back and for some by many fond memories of the previous Cooperide coming back to mind as the group rode through the open rural landscape of southwestern Skåne. Due to the favorable weather conditions and the absence of mechanical issues, we reached Trelleborg after only two hours. A merry arrival it was, but sadly we already had to part ways with over half of the group after the enjoyable day we spent together – our kick-off escort had to return to different responsibilities in Lund and Malmö. After having our first general meeting, the remaining six ventured forth to find the check in for the ferry to Travemünde, which turned out to be the most stressful part of the day. But we found it at last and after following a blue line on the ground for 2km, we were guided unto the ferry.

We are all excited about the next days and about the new people joining our group. Ende Gelände, here we come!

_MG_4487

We want you to listen now…

_MG_4459 - Kopie

On 3rd May the Cooperide took off for their tour to Ende Gelände in Germany. But before the riders startet their journey in Malmö they wanted to send out a message to Vattenfall, to the Swedish government and the public. Here is what had to be said.

We have gathered here today to mourn those who have already perished or been affected by climate change – and all of us who will be.

Swedish state-owned energy company Vattenfall has been mining lignite in Germany for years, emitting as much greenhouse gases every year as Sweden as an entire nation. Now the mines are being sold because Vattenfall has governmental orders to “move away from fossil fuels”. But selling the mines to someone else, who will keep mining the coal, will not make the emissions disappear. The climate doesn’t care who is emitting what – every gram counts no matter who it comes from. And Sweden is one of the best positioned countries in the world to show climate leadership and make such a move as to stop the sale and responsibly phase out the mining.

IMG_4407

Less than two weeks ago, on April 22, Sweden was one of 175 countries that signed the Paris Agreement, thereby committing to keeping the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees. Dumping OUR coalmines on a ruthless company lobbying for a “coal renaissance” in Europe is the absolute opposite of what we have agreed to do. The coal still in the ground is worth 24 years of Sweden’s annual national emissions. We MUST keep it in the ground. The Vattenfall Deal is Sweden’s tipping point.

We have gathered here today, also to celebrate. To celebrate that we see the beginning of an end, as coal and other fossil fuels are becoming a thing of the past: China is stopping the construction of new plants; coal companies are going bankrupt; and more jobs are created in the renewable energy industry than in the fossil fuel industry. And we WILL celebrate our elected politicians who are courageous enough to see beyond short-term profits and elections, and who stand up for people and the future we need.

I celebrate you, we, ordinary people, who are acting out of respect for all life. We are writing, speaking, organising, painting banners, baking cookies, biking. We are acting together, across borders and social boundaries, because we know we have to do something. And we are. Life and Love is what connects us all. Let’s stop the destruction of it. Let’s break free from fossil fuels.

 

_MG_4332

Last year, when the Cooperide took off to Paris, we did it for many reasons. It was fun, yes, it was an adventure, but most of all, we saw it as our responsibility. A responsibility we have towards, each other, towards our children, towards all living creatures on earth, and not least towards ourselves. We cannot run away from our responsibilities and so we decided to cycle towards them. Today, we are going to do the same!

Since last year we are saying: Climate Change is the consequence of disconnection! Vattenfall, I want you to listen now, because this is directed towards you! We caused climate change because we tried to disconnect the profits we make from the damage we do. You did that! You removed people from their homes the same way you removed the ‘overburden’ from the landscapes. You made obscene profits with the misery of environment and people. And now, Vattenfall, you are running away from your responsibilities. Let me be clear: WE WILL NOT LET YOU DO THIS!

We also said this: The solution is to connect! To reconnect with the people, the landscape and the climate you helped destroying. It is not too late! The age of coal is over, you know that! The age of resistance against destructive profit seeking has come! We are history knocking at your door. Will you answer?

 

Cooperide goes Ende Gelände!

IMG-20151128-WA0017 - Kopie

In May 2016 Cooperide will be part of the international mobilization for this year’s Ende Gelände action in Lusatia – Germany’s second biggest coal mining area.

Over Pentecost’s weekend (13. – 16. May) actions demanding the end of coal digging in Lusatia will be organized around the area. In the previous week we will make our way from Sweden (Malmö) trough the North of Germany over Berlin to Lusatia, mobilize as many people as possible to join the activities around Ende Gelände and being true to the Cooperide tradition organize informative events along the way.

Save the dates!

3. May – Kick-off action in Malmö
9. May – International Bike Mass in Berlin
10. May – Day of joint actions in Berlin
12. May – Arrival at Lausitzcamp

Everyone is warmly welcome to join us – be it for the whole tour, somewhere along the route or for a couple of days. Check our  route  to get an overview!

You can also find practical information about joining the ride in our info for riders.

 

Bike mobilization across Europe – Cycle Ende Gelände 2016
There will also be other bike trains following the call for Ende Gelände departing from France, Great Britain and Austria. Joining forces we are mobilizing across Europe to show that the climate movement is strong and committed!  Find out more about our comrades’ routes below or at Cycle Ende Gelände 2016.

No False Solutions for Climate Change

At the COP21 here in Paris there is a lot of talk about emission reductions, the decision on reduction goals and financial support for economically weak countries. However, no concrete measures how to achieve those goals are necessarily presented.

There is, nonetheless, a number of ideas that are popular amongst politicians, some of which are coming directly from multinational corporations. Besides all the talks about “the best we could hope for in this situation” and “there is no more efficient alternative”, it is important to critically reflect on the proposals and not simply accept the official arguments. The campaign trying to achieve that is known as No False Solutions. It targets actions that instead of solving climate change, are in the worst case even contributing to it, in the best case are not changing anything at all. Today’s blog entry therefore is about raising awareness about critical reflection of proposed solutions to climate change.

We came up with three main areas of initiatives, which we believe are false solutions.

First, technological fixes that try to solve the problem not by changing the logic that actually contributed to the emergence of it, but simply by applying technologies to reduce impacts or consequences. Examples include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), geo-engineering and bio-fuels.

Second, policy mechanisms that are ineffective and perpetuating the logic of exploitation, irresponsibility and profit-oriented decisions as opposed to value-driven decisions. Most known is the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), the emission market of the European Union.

Last, supposedly less carbon-intensive energy forms that are presented as the smaller bad compared to the combustion of coal. This regards first and foremost gas and nuclear energy.

Given the space and time constraints and that some aspects require quite deep technical background knowledge, we decided to focus on the last point, to go into some more depth, as it is a point most of us can relate to. In any case, we are happy to discuss the other alternatives with you as well, if you are interested. So you are welcome to send us a message and we will be happy to discuss them with you.

About 71% of the world’s emissions are related to energy production (1). By far the dirtiest energy form is coal, especially lignite coal (like from the open pits near Hambach Forest in Germany). Consequently, some argue we should reduce coal immediately, but because capacity of renewables is still not enough, less carbon-intensive energy forms like gas should be used, until we have enough renewable capacity. Others suggest, given the urgency to act on climate change, we should immediately increase nuclear power capacities, which is supposedly not emitting any carbon in the process of energy production.

Why are those two proposals False Solutions in our eyes?

In the case of gas, it is a fossil fuel as well, i.e. its supplies are limited, its sourcing is environmentally and socially disruptive and its burning releases toxics. Maybe even more important, the focus on gas as a bridge technology is likely to divert attention and money away from the development of renewable energy capacities.

In the case of nuclear, there is obviously a moral dilemma of producing radioactive waste for future generations to deal with. That aside though, nuclear energy production is not as carbon-neutral as claimed. The burning of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gasses are involved in the mining of uranium, the transport, the construction of the power plant, the demolishing of it after the end of its life expectancy (~ 30–60 years), and in the storage of the nuclear waste and the contaminated power plant materials (2). Emissions will even increase in the long run, as natural uranium deposits become increasingly depleted. Ultimately, nuclear energy can even cause more emissions than the burning of fossil fuels.

What then is a real solution? Obviously, renewables will have to play a big part in the solutions, but also the reduction of energy consumption (which is frequently forgotten). On a finishing note, we would like to introduce the concept of energy democracy as a promising way forward, in which small local initiatives take back their local energy infrastructure and democratically decide on the source of renewable energy. One of the many benefits is that the logic of profit-maximisation is replaced by one of meeting local needs. Additionally, the money generated can be reinvested in the region. The energy mix and solutions will depend on the locality, aiming for energy sufficiency.

All in all, energy is one of the most crucial topics regarding climate change. Proposed solutions often sound reasonable, attractive or even glamorous, but cannot really deliver on close scrutiny. We have to remember what we really want and if the solution is actually contributing to that goal.

 

A Cooperide view on the COP

So here we are, Paris! On our way we have demonstrated among other things that dependence on fossil fuels is a choice not a necessity. But what are we demonstrating for in Paris? And what is actually happening at COP21?

To explain this we have to go a little bit back in time, to the year 1997 and the passage of the Kyoto-Protocol which was meant to be the first major success in international climate treaties. At COP3 (Conference of Parties) in Kyoto the early-industrialised countries set targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and put in place mechanisms to achieve them.

But as the severeness and urgency of the problem became more apparent in the 2000’s and as emissions of emerging economies such as India or Brasil became a relevant share (but still far behind North American or European countries) of the overall global emissions, a global treaty that would include all nation states came into focus.

The COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 was supposed to deliver such a treaty. Rarely has so much power centralised in one place on earth when prime ministers and heads of states came together in the last days of the conference to try and save the deal. However, instead of a binding treaty, all the delegates could agree on was an acknowledgement of the commitment to prevent a temperature increase of more than 2°C in comparison to pre-industrial times. The Copenhagen Accord was called a “total failure” by the international climate movement, with 2°C described as a death sentence for small island nations and arctic communities.

Since then a process had been ongoing to make another globally binding treaty to prevent dangerous climate change: COP21 in Paris – Now and here!

We need hope if COP21 is going to succeed but the pre-negotiations don’t bode well for a strong long term goal. Here’s a rough description of the key process: countries put on the table how much they are willing to cut their emissions, these intended emission reductions are added up (we can only wonder what will happen if they do not do enough to prevent dangerous climate change in the long term…). Then, over the coming decades the ‘ratchet mechanism‘ aka ambition mechanism, increases the level of commitments and consequent speed of decarbonisation. Sounds good doesn’t it? The problematic point is that these are voluntary intentions. What happens if a country doesn’t meet its pledge? What happens if a government comes into power that calls proof of climate change “crap” and stops all efforts? There is nothing the COP can do!

greenpeace-infographic

Figure of a timeline explaining how the INDCs will be updated over 5 years using the ‘Ratchet Mechanism’ to creat Long Term Goals. Source: Greenpeace.

Instead of binding targets and tools to make sure that these targets are eventually met, countries are bargaining around so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – all voluntary and tame. So whilst positive noises emerge from Le Bourget about limits to 1,5°C degrees warming being a potentially included clause in this week’s Paris Accord, it’s seems that the gulf between what states say they are willing to do and what they will actually do is widening.

So that is one reasons why we are here: to call for an ambitious accord with long term goals in line with the scientific consensus, that puts people’s interest over business’ interests, that sets radical emission cuts for early-industrialised countries, that recognises historical responsibility for emissions and that is a step forward to climate justice.

The climate movement has learned since Copenhagen. In 2009 the international climate movement literally broke apart due to the disappointment of the failure. Since then, the insight has spread that the COP’s might not be the place for effective climate protection. And instead of putting all our hopes into the UN negotiations again we have started to build our own society based on alternatives – such as many of the groups we met along the road and at the Global Village of Alternatives that we visited this weekend; such as the Climate Action Zone that serves as a hub of international creativity this week (where we are writting this); and not least the humble  Cooperide; the movement will move on independently of the Paris Accord to call for climate justice.