As the first day of COP15 winds to a close, Klimaforum09, a “people’s summit” in downtown Copenhagen was swinging into action. Over the next eleven days, the alternative summit will feature international activists, scientists, and academics discussing and debating issues related to the climate negotiations taking place a few kilometers across town in the Bella Center.

Klimaforum media liaison Niels Faster said: “We don’t think the politicians are up to solving the climate crisis. In the meantime, we at the Klimaforum believe that we have to commit to taking action and creating an open, public space in order to discuss how to combat the problem of climate change and how to create an international climate justice movement.”

The forum kicked off this evening with a panel discussion that featured Nation contributor Naomi Klein, Via Campesina’s General Coordinator Henry Saragia, and Friends of the Earth’s Nnimmo Bassy. The panel was followed by live music by Danish percussionist and composer Lisbeth Diers, and the Bimbache openART project. Faster estimated a thousand people attended the opening.

Many of the panelists at Klimaforum will be the very fisher-folk, farmers, and urban poor who stand to be the most effected by warming temperatures and rising sea levels. Additionally, the panels feature scientists, political theorists, activists and artists. Each evening, the Klimaforum screens films. And there are musical and theatrical performances as well as art installations thematizing climate change.

Patrick Bond, a Durban, South Africa based academic, author and cofounder of Durban Group for Climate Justice, attended the opening events. "The KlimaForum has enormous potential,” says Bond. “Right from day one, leaders from Via Campesina in Indonesia and Oilwatch in the Niger Delta, followed by Naomi Klein, made clear that capitalism is the problem.”