Cycling the Cooperide from Copenhagen to Paris

A bike bloc of international climate activists are cycling from Copenhagen to Paris, arriving during the COP21 summit. We are the Cooperide.

17 of us are making the entire journey, and many more joining for shorter stages. Our rolling band of merry riders includes a tandem, a recumbent, and two large trailers, which carry our food, tools and other collective necessities.

The Cooperide group. Credit: Phil Holtam

We have been hosted generously by an assortment of institutions and have laid our heads in: church halls, organic farms, schools, sports centres, environmental NGOs and private homes. Along the way we are engaging with local groups, hosting events such as film screenings, and taking part in actions against the fossil fuel industry.

After arriving in Paris, we will be participating in the events organised for civil society groups from the 5 - 11th of December, events that will of course be affected by the recent terrorist attack.

Cooperide came out of a group of environmentally active students at Lund University in Sweden. We were determined to use the COP21 as a window of opportunity for gaining attention to and taking action for climate justice. We have planned the ride collectively using consensus decision-making. Despite a lot of work for our legs and minds, we have kept space for fun, games and relaxation.

Led to action on climate change

Taking action on climate justice is my way of connecting to the Quaker testimonies of equality and environmental sustainability. Climate change isn´t just about saving polar bears. Atmospheric changes will harm human habitats and livelihoods. We know that those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are those with the lowest material consumption and the least accountability for historical emissions. As Pam Lunn astutely put it in her 2011 Swarthmore lecture: 'Every reduction or saving of resources that we undertake is an act of solidarity with the poorest people in the developing world'.

Furthermore, the companies responsible for the majority of emissions can be seen as culpable of exacting violence against future generations, small-island nations and arctic communities, and the planet itself, by removing their safety. So the Quaker commitment to peace is highly relevant.

Our message of Cooperide is simple – fossil fuel dependency is a choice, not a necessity. We are one of many voices calling for a treaty in Paris that is ambitious, strong and legally binding. It is essential that we have socially just policy-making – cutting across the energy, transport, agricultural and construction sectors – that is aligned with the proven scientific knowledge. Not led by corporate money-makers who have deliberately muddled the waters of climate science.

Hopes for Paris and beyond

Whilst a strong treaty in Paris would be welcome, COP21 is unlikely to be a turning point in our global transition to decarbonise society. Paris is an opportunity for the climate movement to converge, grow and look ahead for further opportunities to foster much needed change.

Despite testing weather conditions, the trip has so far been a fantastically inspiring experience and I would highly recommend others to join politically oriented bike tours.

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