This year the Camp for Climate Action is hosting the Tripod Stage in the Dragon Field, between the Craft Field and Shangri La; just follow the map below and keep an eye out for the tripods. We have a lovely space where you can chill out, drink a cup of tea and find out more about what we do and how you can get involved. Plus we have good music, poetry and comedy to keep you entertained whilst you learn. All powered by renewable energy of course!
Glastonbury 2009. Photo: Amelia Gregory
The full line-up for the weekend is:
3pm: Screenprinting workshop
5pm: Anna Log – little folk-pop songs on a uke, from the singer with We Aeronauts
6pm: Green Kite Midnight – ceilidh
7pm: My Luminaries – epic indie rock from the Glastonbury Emerging Talent
winners, playing an intimate folky set
1pm: Screenprinting workshop
2pm: Tripod Training
3pm: Kirsty Almeida – New Orleans meets Nightmare Before Christmas
4pm: Newislands – epic musical dreamscapes, Pink Floyd meets Depeche Mode
5pm: Green Kite Midnight – ceilidh
6pm: Danny Chivers, Merrick & Claire Fauset – a triple-headed tag team political poetry extravaganza
7pm: Danny and the Champions of the World – country tinged big band folk
1pm: Screenprinting workshop
2pm: Tripod Training
2.30pm: Kyla la Grange – soaring melodies from this talented newcomer
3pm: Patch William – the dreamy lovechild of Nick Drake and Jimi Hendrix
4pm: The Federals – boys from York, think White Stripes meets The Beatles
5pm: Robin Ince – a *SECRET SET* from the famous comedian – a must see
6pm: Green Kite Midnight – ceilidh
7pm: Dry the River – songs of religion, history, community; melodic folk with bite
- Fleet Foxes meets Mumford & Sons
1pm: Tripod Training – women only
2pm: Pete the Temp – music and spoken word with a comedic eco-political bent
2.30pm: Pete Lawrie – bittersweet gospel blues
3pm: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – soulfull melodies from his forthcoming album
4pm: Robinson – gypsy cajun crossed with classical sun-tinged folk
5pm: Danny Chivers, Merrick & Claire Fauset – a triple-headed tag team political poetry extravaganza
6pm: the GRAND RAFFLE
7pm: Green Kite Midnight – ceilidh
Screenprinting Workshops: Come up to Climate Camp and learn how to screenprint your clothing with an anti RBS slogan. Bring your own or print onto one of our tshirts or bags. If you would like to screenprint outside of workshop times just ask and someone will help you out. Great for kids!
Tripod Training: Tripods are used to blockade and secure a space on a direct action protest; come find out how to put them up and climb them safely. Good fun, and no previous experience or skills required.
Ceilidhs: Ceilidh band Green Kite Midnight was formed through Climate Camp to provide music at protests. Come and learn how to barndance, no experience required. www.greenkitemidnight.com
GRAND RAFFLE: we need to raise money for this year’s camp. Please give generously when you see our outreach team, and come along to the finale.
For a full preview and more info on the acts in the line-up see Amelia’s blog.
*Climate 9 Trial begins in Aberdeen*
The first major climate trial since the failure of the Copenhagen talks has begun in Aberdeen Sheriff’s court this morning.
Nine defendants from Plane Stupid Scotland will face charges charges ofBreach of the Peace and Vandalism after closing down Aberdeen Airport in March 2009 ). The group were highlighting the climate impacts of expanding the airport which they argue is mainly to support wealthy golfers at a proposed near by course owned by business tycoon Donald Trump.
Interest has been building around the case since Climate 9 public campaigns were launched in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London, which have drawn global and local support for the group and helped forge alliances with social justice
campaigners and racial justice movements.
The defendants are pleading not guilty on the grounds that their actions were to prevent the larger crime of runaway climate change and have assembled a witness list of world-renowned experts in climate related fields including public health consultant Jenny Griffiths and Geoff Meaden, who contributed to the successful Kingsnorth6 defence as a flooding and mapping
The defendants were joined outside court by around 50 friends, families and supporters.
For more information, statements of support and how you can help the Climate 9 see: http://www.climate9.com/
or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 077655 01687
The People’s Climate Conference, Cochabamba, Bolivia, 19-22 April 2010
Our trip to Bolivia started a couple of days before the World People’s Conference on Climate Change, when we attended the 3rd International Water Conference, which was also commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Water War.
The people of Cochabamba were celebrating their victory against Bechtel, the multinational company that in 2000 was pushing for water privatization, and the people resisted through blockades and mass mobilisation.
Local and international organisations took this opportunity to come together to share experiences and even start preparing a strategy to make the right to water an important part of the upcoming conference. Tucked away in the corner of all this excitement, we found the carpa tematica (themed tent) that would later be transformed to mesa 18 (the 18th working group/table). It was here that discussions started to point out the contradictions between the external discourse on capitalism of the conference and the ongoing domestic mega-projects and extractive industries contributing to social injustice and climate change within Bolivia and Latin America.
Mesa 18 was organised by CONAMAQ (National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu) and other social movements from across the continent joined it along the way. They wanted it to be a part of the conference, which was why it was named the 18th working group, but it remained unofficial and controversial. Rumours were that the government met with the organisers earlier in the week to dissuade them from establishing this space, and opponents of the government latched onto this opportunity to try to undermine Evo Morales. However, everyone we spoke to was clear that this was to complement the conference by looking deeper into the local effects of global industrial capitalism – and not to oppose it.
Around the same time 500km from Cochabamba the San Cristobal community took action against the Japanese owned mine company that is the world’s third largest producer of silver and sixth largest of zinc. It is also extracting natural resources and contaminating the community’s water. They blockaded the company and started overturning trains full of mineral ore – a real example of the struggle against extractive industries and one that set the context for the conference during the following week.
If there were doubts at the beginning of the conference that this was a set up by the Bolivian government to get social movements to give their blind support, then it subsided by the end. And there was doubt! When the Forest Working Group went to meet for the first time they found a
moderator who turned out to be a UN bureaucrat and that the draft declaration included a description of the UNs REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Programme as a solution to deforestation.
REDD is a market solution which, through commodification of the forests, allows the global north to offset their emissions instead of reducing them, threatens communities and peoples who live in these areas, and replaces forests with monoculture plantations. The movements responded quickly – they used the process, and their interjections, to overturn this draft, and in the end REDD was outright rejected in the final declaration.
The strength and dignity of the voices representing people from all over the world made it clear that this process, if it was to be in our name, would not advocate any false solutions. So, when the final declaration was read most people from various working groups were happy with the outcome. Indeed, the declaration is inspiring - it spells out capitalism as the root cause of climate change and outright denounces the carbon market. But beyond its engagement with the UN process, it is missing a real plan on how to move forward.
That’s why the space that the conference provided for movements/peoples to meet, share stories, strategies and continue the process of building a linked up global movement to fight for climate justice was crucial.
We met with Rising Tide from Mexico, Ecuador and Australia, each with many inspiring stories and actions. It was interesting for example to find out that climate camps are put on by Rising Tide along with other groups, but generally actions throughout the year are organised outside a ‘camp’
We attended side events and listened to struggles against extraction, displacement, and contamination. In these side events what stood out the most for us were the voices that questioned the credibility and legitimacy of the UN process and that called for actions now.
We shared our stories as well – many people here don’t hear a lot about the resistance to capitalism and the direct action that happens against social injustice and climate change in Europe. The best reaction was when we announced in the middle of a heated drafting of the mesa 18 declaration – that in London there would be a solidarity stunt with the San Cristobal community. Everyone in the room applauded and cheered this is how we can work together in the fight for climate justice.
Declarations and actions
The blockade in San Cristobal was instrumental in showing that words were not enough and that action is needed. Mesa 18 may not have succeeded in throwing out a multinational out of Latin America that week, but they did draw up their own declaration that outright denounced all megaprojects in Latin America and called for a new model for the management of natural resources with the direct control of the workers. As far as we know, the plans continue.
(Read a rough translation of the declaration on our blog).
In this same spirit we participated with other climate activists from the UK and Europe spreading the call out that Climate Justice Action took up from call out by various social movements in Latin America, under the name Minga Global, for a day of direct action for climate justice on the 12th
of October – the day in defence of the mother earth.
On the last day of the conference we hosted a side event entitled ‘Building Bridges Across Continents.’ See it here: We used some of the time to brainstorm who were our allies and what/who were our obstacles in building climate justice, and the rest of the time brainstormed on how we can work together in building a global movement, using the 12th of October as a specific example. We were all excited to share ideas and start planning some action!
La lucha sigue / The struggle continues !
Agi and Ben
International working group
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
HOST A REPORT BACK MEETING
Part of our remit is to feedback to local groups – let us know if you want us to come and visit email international[at]climatecamp.org.uk
COME TO THE NEXT CLIMATE JUSTICE ACTION MEETING
The next Climate Justice Action Europe gathering will be held in the Netherlands in late August. For more information check the Climate Justice Action website soon.
GET PLANNING FOR 12 OCTOBER
Join Minga Global and participate in a Day of Direct Action for Climate Justice on Tuesday 12 October 2010 and start planning!
Disappointingly we only ran one of our workshops yesterday. At 8.30am when we arrived to the campus there was hardly anyone there, and it later transpired that the free buses had not been running that morning. We only discovered this as people arrived one by one closer to 10am, and so the workshop about the growing threat of population controls didn’t happen, which is a real shame. We had wanted to share a really important example of the perverse lengths that the wealthy north will go to as a means for not making the changes that are really necessary to tackle the root causes of climate change and build for climate justice. At Copenhagen the Optimum Population Trust launched their new “population offsetting” project, which you can read more about here. www.popoffsets.com/
Many of the people we have spoken to about this all shared the same sense that on first appearances this project must have been a joke, something along the lines of Cheat Neutral… but sadly no, this is for real. What has been most worrying is the number of known environmentalists that are part of the Optimum Population Trust, and the fact that David Attenborough is a patron. As well as reading a general critique of overpopulation discourses in our texts and articles section entitled “Too Many of Whom and Too Much of What?”, you can read a critique of population offsetting here offsetdavidattenborough.wordpress.com/
We will also later try and post some of our thoughts on the topic.
Our second workshop, about Migration and Freedom of Movement went well. There were about 50 people and a really good translator, luckily! Again, we will post longer reflections on the outcomes of all this work on climate migration later, but the most important thing to come out for us was a sense that people in the room really understood that borders, nation states and the categorisations of human beings are another construct of the system.
After the workshops, we headed for the stadium in town to hear the final declaration of the conference. We haven’t been able to find it translated into English yet, though presume it is being worked on. It may appear here when done, http://pwccc.wordpress.com/
It seems crazy that the conference is over already as it only just felt like things were getting going! On the other hand, you could say that the process is only just beginning. Certainly the text that emerged, the 9 page long ‘People’s Accord’ is impressive when compared to its Copenhagen counterpart. There is an engagement with the structural causes of climate change, demands for binding 50% emissions cuts on 1990 levels through Kyoto for the 2012-2017 period, and the expected proposals for an international court for climate crime based on the rights of the earth.
The million dollar question will be how this text is used and how it is responded to. The plan is for an intercontinental delegation to present it to the UN, and that it be used as a basis for a negotiating position at the next COP in Mexico. Indeed Chavez called for a Global Movement for the Rights of the Earth to mobilise to Cancun and even offered to pay for people to go there, unless I missed something in the translation.
It seems that it’s actually a good declaration. Despite earlier concerns, and after much effort in the forests working group, it comes out against REDD, the market mechanism for forests, which is great. The main points will surely be reported and analysed elsewhere but importantly it also criticises GM technology, false solutions, extractive industries and in general the whole process of climate negotiations through COP.
One small extract from the section on migration says; “(The developed countries shouild be) accountable for the hundreds of millions that will have to migrate because of climate change, which they have caused, and to remove their restrictive policies on migration and provide migrants a decent life and respect their rights in all countries.”
Seeing Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales etc, presenting these quite radical discourses obviously raises questions about how their political projects, based as they are on the wealth from exploiting natural resources, will be justified at the same time as promoting this declaration.
It would be easy for some to cynical about the intentions of the ALBA, (Alliance of Bolivarian states in the Americas) in terms of using climate change as just another stick to beat the capitalist North and to promote their vision of global socialism that still relies on exploitation. However, even if this were true, there seems to be something much more complex going on as well. Bolivia glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities. All around this country and the region people are experiencing the effects of climate change that they did not cause, and that they know they are impotent to stop; impotent in the face of the current global system of capitalism. As for the concept of the rights of Pachamama, which has surely been co-opted to an extent for political purposes, it is also a very compelling argument that comes from the indigenous or original knowledges from Bolivia and beyond. We do indeed have a lot to learn from this with regards to re-discovering a respectful relationship with the earth.
Throughout the conference, there have been strikes, occupations and blockades against San Cristobal mine. One of Evo’s biggest social movement support bases, CONAMAQ, were reported in the paper as saying that they will withdraw their support if the MAS government continues with its megaprojects and extractive industries.
The people here know that they have brought down governments and kicked out corporations. A Bolivian friend said last night, “This isn’t about one man, or one party, this is about bigger structural changes. We are not duped.” And it’s true that people are aware of the contradictions, and yet have still been engaging with this process. Just as we can suspect that the government is using social movements for its own ambitions, individuals and social movements may also be playing the same game. Only with time will really enable us to analyse the contradictions, until then we keep asking, listening and trying to understand.
We spent the morning in our working group, trying to agree on the final text. This will be then edited down to a few paragraphs for the final declaration of the conference. But it was still important to get it right! There was a lack of a clear process and at times it was really frustrating. But when we saw the final version of the text that the presidents of the group had worked on, we thought it was pretty good, and a huge improvement on the pre conference text. For example, the refeneces to the IOM had been taken out and Freedom of Movement is mentioned twice.
It was quite chaotic looking for the venue of where the final texts from the 17 working groups were being presented and we missed ours but got a paper copy. It is in English here . It’s a rushed translation.
The rest of the day was spent chatting with people from our working group, who included a woman from Oruro who is a quiona farmer, an organiser from the local Regantes, (people who work in irrigation) union and a immigrant rights organiser from the US.
We weren’t sure about making the early morning trip to Tiquipaya for the opening ceremony, but in the end our curiosity got the better of us. We were soon installed in the stadium with thousands of others, as the sun ravenously ate the bit of shade we had found. The atmosphere was quite incredible with hundreds of flags, the majority being the Wipala, the pan-Andean flag. There were also loads of banners from local unions, some against mining, and again the massive Jesus flag!
There was a curious mixture of military bands, chants from the Argentinian youth and indigenous people’s ceremonies, at times all of them happening simultaneously. Whilst we waited for the speeches to begin there was a range of live folk music from across Latin America, and a lot of merchandise being distributed by Entel, the state telecommunications company. Their slogan is “technology to live well.” They are the co-sponsor of the conference with Coca Cola, although they are less visible. We’re not sure what they think about Coca Colla, the Bolivian alternative, which apparently does contain coca! There are many contradictions here.
After a false alarm, in which other VIPs emerged from fancy cars, Evo arrived. An array of different flavours of police, military, and men in suits with ear pieces scuttled about as the several hundred strong military band with bayonets stood to attention. Met with cheers, Evo walked down past the crowd, gave a short speech to the military which ended with “Patria o Muerte” (recently added to the army slogan), and then made his way up to the stage.
The ceremony continued with speeches from a first nation woman (Alaska), someone from India, Friends of the Earth International (Africa), Via Campesina, (Brazil), Izquierda Unidad, (Europe) and finally a message read from Eduardo Galeano. When an envoy from the UN got up to speak about how the UN process was reflecting the need for climate justice, a strong boo and hisses emerged from the crowd. The reaction was so strong to her unpopular statements that she ended up saying, “You invited me here, if you want I will go, but the international process is still important.”
Following several other local dignitaries, Evo finally began his speech. Starting about three hours after we arrived and lasting for more than an hour, we left towards the beginning. Friends report that he was very much focussed on a popular explanation of environmental problems and did not give much time to the complexities of the international processes. He talked a lot about the differences between the Bolivian traditions and the importance of these forms of knowledge in fighting climate change using metaphors of traditional ceramics v plastic plates, woven ponchos v modern plastic fabrics, Alka Seltzer v herbal treatments. It seems that this is a major theme, to establish pride in national customs as a way to resist patterns of consumption and living associated to El Norte, (the north.)
Climate and Migration Panel
In the afternoon, one of us spoke on the panel about forced migration due to climate change. Despite some early problems with the translations, which were heartily corrected by various attendees in the audience, it went well. What was most interesting was that while one of the speakers gave a very dense and technical speech about legal frameworks, the two other speakers from both North and South America made very similar political points as those that were given from a European context. Summaries of these two talks will be posted soon.
An informal meeting was held between activists from Rising Tide in Australia, Rising Tide UK, folk from the USA, and a selection of other European based climate justice activists.
Much of our discussions were around ongoing work on coal issues in both the UK and Australia, and experiences of taking direct action at points of extraction, distribution and production into electricity. This was a really interesting chat that allowed for the sharing of tactics, both of direct action and of movement building, and ideas for collaborative call outs.
Another key discussion was the call for a Global Day of Action on October 12th. Historically the date of “Colombus Day”, there has been a subverting of this pro-colonialist celebration and many indigenous groups have been using it as a day to take action around the protection of Mother Earth. An original call came from the Global Minga, a network of indigenous groups, and is being developed and built upon by activists from a variety of networks. We’ll post the call out once it is finalised, and we urge people to share it with their groups to build for worldwide autonomous direct actions.
CJN Side Event
Later we went to a Climate Justice Now (CJN) meeting, entitled “How should social movements enagage with the UNFCCC process?” There were reflections on Copenhagen and looking forward to COP-16 in Mexico later this year. One of the big questions was whether we should mobilise to Mexico, and if so how? And what other transnational strategies for action were available to us?
Over dinner we chatted with some of the folk from Mexico (including other Rising Tiders), who reflected on how weird it is for them being in the position of living in the place where the next big summit is coming, and trying to decide if/how to mobilise locally and internationally.
There is really so much other stuff going on. These are long and intense days and it gets more difficult to keep up with daily reports!
I didn’t get round to blogging yesterday, I fell Ill at a meeting and made my way back to the hostel where I collapsed with a fever. I’m not exactly feeling better now but this is the first day of the conference so I am going to try to get out there.
I didn’t sleep much, what will the muscle cramps and the fact that a women was mugged outside my window. I awoke to her screaming. Cabs drove around the fight without intervening so I fumbled around in the dark for some clothes. I had no intelligent plan on what I’d do when I got out there and my hesitancy meant her attacker had moved off up the street by the time I was dressed. She sat crying in a doorway and the occasional passer by walked on without any inquiry. I couldn’t decide what to do and to my shame I eventually got back into bed where I lay awake feeling guilty for not doing anything.
Anyway, yesterday was the last day of the water forum and there was a lot of discussion about the so-called 18th table – an 18th working group which will look at issues within Bolivia. The discussion revolved around concerns that the existence of the 18th table would be misrepresented as being anti the conference and anti evo which is not the case.
I videoed a large part of the session in which they talked about the need to ensure these issues are heard (see http://qik.com/wpccc). Before the session there were rumours that there’d be a proposal to boycott the conference if the 18th table wasn’t recognised but in the end it turned out to be a proposal to produce a declaration which I’ve not yet seen.
In effect, the water forum provided a pre-conference platform for discussion of the road building, damn schemes, mining developments etc which are effecting people in Bolivia but are off the agenda for the climate conference.
There was also a meeting of Climate Justice Now which worked with Climate Justice Action on elements of the COP15 mobilisations. Additionally I attended a meeting to plan the ‘building bridges’ workshop which follows the open letter and discussion paper the the CJA. One of the aims is to look at how groups around the world can work together through initiatives such as the October 12th Days of Action in Defence of Mother Earth. I hoped to be able to feed in news from the Camp for Climate Action national gathering in the UK, as to whether they’d be supporting the day of action but that information hadn’t materialised by the end of the meeting.
Anyhow, today the conference begins with the first sessions of the 17 official working groups. Apparently there are 15,000 people expected to attend so I’d better hurry up and get down there as I’m in no condition to stand in a queue.
The big news of the morning is that the Forests working group have got a provisional statement that uses the language of REDD, and seems to be supporting this disaster initiative. It has also been discovered that the appointed moderator of the working group is a REDD supporter from the UN. See the Durban statement on REDD in our list of articles to know more, and please encourage groups to sign it as soon as possible.
The conversations we have already been having with people regarding REDD are increasingly worrying. While it is clear that REDD projects pose an imminent threat to the land rights of indigenous communities, and threaten the integrity of areas of the Amazonian rainforest, there have been cynical moves within the UN and pro-REDD groups to co-opt a minority of indigenous leaders. These leaders have been offered financial incentives to speak out against any dissent, claiming that an anti-REDD position is racist, and this is dividing the communities. Numerous groups and communities from around the world are here to ensure that the declaration of the Forests Working Group does not present a pro-REDD statement in the planning for COP16 in Mexico.
A Brazilian friend, who has just returned from meeting with Amazonian communities, explained that satellite technology is being used to monitor and control areas of REDD plantations. The technology is so advanced, along the lines of the CCTV we are used to in Europe, that she said “they can even see you taking a piss in the forest”, and night vision is being used to ensure that areas can be managed and monitored at all times. These incursions into the Amazon have dramatic impacts for uncontacted indigenous tribes, and for other groups living and working in the rainforests.
We’re off to find our working group and see what happening there.
Each border I successfully cross, the right to move freely feels more and more fragile. This feeling, familiar to many crossing lands around the globe, is new to me. It heightens at the sight of the policeman’s gun, at the thought of my vacant passport gaze scanned and delivered to desks across Europe via Interpol or whatever else they choose to do with my 2D face and the map of my movements.
Did the guy at the coach check in desk have a cheeky glint in his eye when he asked ‘What’s happening in Copenhagen then, so many people going?’ Was I equally mischievous when I replied ‘These big climate talks and massive climate justice protests.’ People are making such journeys to here. To meet, to connect, to create, to fight for justice. Swarming from such varied starting points, thousands and thousands of different routes finally joining together.
To Copenhagen, December 2009. Why? Bureaucrats have said ‘Impossible’. Corporations, from their watchtowers, have said ‘Only if we get paid’. Presidents and prime ministers have ummed, erred, blushed and wanted to resort to ‘There’s a recession!’ without calling it that. Friends have naively queried ‘How do you know the outcome before it’s happened?’, media commentators have leapt on controversy, big NGOs have asked for more of the same and navy blue base layers are the new anarchist black. To anyone new to climate politics it must seem like the entrance to Debenhams at the start of the January sale: too loud and too many elbows.
The favourite description of the historical moment seems to be ‘Last chance’. But to me, riding from one consensus meeting to the next, meeting people from places I’ve never been, connecting, organising, discussing, dreaming, plotting and planning…this mobilisation feels like the beginning of something that from here will only grow. Like a bright dawn with corporate lobbyists shut out and stuck under expensive umbrellas. Like morning grey on sullen besuited bureaucrats, forced to remain in their hotel lobbies making calls, disparate and un-smugged. Like a 6am rise, giddy and determined, before a day to take over streets, tear down fences, block bridges and Reclaim Power.
I cross all the borders no problems, no questions; a few groups on the bus get asked about their accommodation and plans, and produce printed documents corroborating their lobbyist status. My bags weren’t checked once and I long for the goggles and stink-a-room capsules I left behind – but I shudder to think of the extensive bag searching that the Climate Camp coaches will probably be subjected to. In the convergence spaces in Copenhagen people are busy building everything from sleeping spaces to bikes to meetings structures to movements. One person says to me over a midnight tea, “I’m looking at these two weeks like one long day – right now it’s early in the morning, we’re getting ready, and I’m excited!”
Someone told me the temperature can drop to -10C in Copenhagen which is probably outside most people’s experience and certainly outside their comfort zone. Googling for weather statistics for Denmark however, reveals that that -10C figure looks very much the exception and around freezing point seems to be the norm there for December. Copenhagen is on the same lattitude as central Scotland though so it may feel distinctly nippy there for us soft southerners. Since the British are notoriously crap at dressing for cold conditions and since I’ve ventured onto a few cold mountains in my time, I’ve necessarily learned a bit about staying warm in such conditions which I’m thinking may be useful to pass on to those going to Copenhagen. I could just suggest everyone goes to a good outdoor shop and buys loads of high tech survival stuff but since many activists are on low incomes this advice wouldn’t go down very well so here’s various cheapo options.
First off, don’t just dress for fashion. Fashion clothes are normally fairly hopeless at keeping you warm so even complete style junkies are going to have to compromise and dress a bit more functional. Besides which, it’s a situation where you probably don’t want to stand out from the crowd too much. Next check your garment fabric labels. In particular, avoid cotton as this is a cool summer fabric and not good for winter. Not only is cotton a very poor insulator compared to other fabrics, but when it becomes wet, (do the Danes have water cannons anyone?) it has no insulating effect at all and also takes days and days to dry. Anyone who’s ever been drenched while wearing jeans or a cotton sweatshirt will have noticed just how cold they became so avoid both of those garments.
The secret to dressing warm is to trap static warm air using several layers of insulating clothing. Firstly an absorbent but low cotton content garment should be worn next to the skin that can draw sweat away from your body should you have become too hot at any stage of the day. Next, wear one or two well insulated fluffy layers. Two or more thin layers are much more versatile than one thick one as you can regulate your temperature more finely. Wooly jumpers are good but can take ages to dry should they become wet and you will smell like a wet dog during that time Acrylic ones don’t suffer from these drawbacks. Best by far are synthetic fleece jackets or shirts as they are light and absorb very little water and even if they do become wet, their insulation value doesn’t drop much and they dry in a trice. You can sometimes find fleeces at second hand shops, car boot sales or Lidl often sell naff looking but functional ones at this time of year. You can buy cheap new ones at street markets but they’re often the shape of a sack and fall apart quite quickly. Dunno if he’s still there, but last year there was a guy selling some really nice second hand ones in Sclater street off Brick lane Sunday market. You can also try an outdoor shop called mountain warehouse in Southampton St below Covent Garden that sells all sorts of stuff much cheaper than its more up market neighbours. Your outer layer should be something densely woven or waterproof to prevent the wind from penetrating your fluffy layers and blowing the warm air away.
For your legs, no jeans but low cotton content or acrylic track suit bottoms from street markets are good or you can go for the trick of wearing thick woolly women’s tights underneath some regular closely woven trousers. On your feet, obviously boots and thick non cotton socks – wool is best. Good gloves can be quite expensive although Lidl again often do affordable ski gloves at this time of year. If you’re really skint then one thing I’ve found is that during cold spells, loads of people drop gloves on the streets especially at bus stops which you can hoover up if you ride a bike around town regularly. If you keep finding same sided gloves then turn one inside out. If you can find widely differing sizes then you can stack small ones inside larger for double the warmth.
People often complain that their hands and feet always get cold no matter what they wear on them. This is to do with humans having evolved as social animals and the trick to prevent your extremities becoming cold is to really concentrate on keeping your core temperature high. If your core temperature drops even slightly, your body minimises its chances of developing hypothermia and so starts to shut down the blood supply to the peripheral parts of the body in order to prevent that chilled blood from cooling the vital organs any further. So if you’re wearing insufficient warm clothes on your torso then even with the most expensive gloves, your hands will continue to feel cold.
Don’t forget to cover as much of your head as possible. Peruvian(?) hats are probably good but I’ve never worn one. Balaclavas are brilliantly warm though scary looking and if everyone wears them it’ll give a very negative image. They’re quite versatile though as you can fold the sides up and wear them as a regular non-threatening wooly hat if conditions aren’t so bad. They’re actually very expensive to buy from outdoor shops – often 20 quid though you can try army surplus shops. It may well be that conditions there are quite mild so remember to carry a rucsack of sufficient size to stash excess clothing if you become too hot. This is why wearing several thin layers rather than one thick one is important.
I’m guessing some of the sleeping accomodation may be fairly basic and heating could be minimal. If so, the best sleeping bag you can acquire and a sleeping mat is equally important. It’s worth knowing that most heat loss when camping is downwards into the ground so try and put as much locally acquired insulating material such as layers of carpet or cardboard beneath you and not on top. Watch how homeless people do just this. You can wear some extra clothes inside your bag but if you try to wear too much inside a tight sleeping bag, you can actually prevent the sleeping bag from working properly. If you know it’s going to be a very cold night then it’s important to go to sleep while still feeling warm, ideally immediately after having some hot food inside you otherwise you will never recover lost heat once your metabolism drops and you’ll get crap sleep. On the subject of food, remember that in cold conditions, your body is having to work harder just staying warm so eat more than you normally do.
Finally where you place yourself outdoors can greatly affect your warmth level. Do your utmost to stay dry. Standing on anything metal or in a puddle will chill your feet and sitting or leaning on anything cold and hard will suck the heat right out of your body so try and stand/sit on some wood or cardboard. If there’s much standing around and it’s windy then avoid the effect of wind chill by ducking into the lee of any kind of obstruction like wheely bins, barricades etc.