Welcome to HOPENHAGEN !



In fine Hagener (I made that one up) style, I cycled to the metro station, left my bike by the entrance, and hopped the train south towards the Conference. As the small (by New York standards, the cars are about the size of the AirTrain) train rose above ground to offer an overcast expanse of parks and sheik buildings sporting modern design, I found myself in the midst of 30 odd people from India clad in white smocks with the slogans “Only Need, Not Greed”, & “Change System, Not Climate”.

This seemed in keeping with the Indian government’s recent declaration that it would only slow the growth of the nations greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but that it was open to more drastic reductions if an “Equitable” deal could be reached in Copenhagen. India currently ranks 5th globally in overall emissions, but has a low per capita level.


I greeted them, and when I mentioned I was doing some writing for a magazine based in India (its called Beyond Profit Magazine, will send details later), their animated chatter rose a couple levels.

Heading down together to the police barricade (just a lineup of officers that control the 10 foot wide opening in a long fence that serves as the only public access to the Conference complex),

I had to leave my new friends as they had not picked up their accreditation badges, a process that required long waits (thankfully I’d taken care of this Sunday). We snapped some photos of each other, and bode each other a fruitful conference.

Inside, the Danish Prime Minister issued a formal welcome to the throng of “Climatocrats” (another term of mine I feel is rather apt, lets see if it catches on) and the Don in charge of the UNFCCC process, Yvo de Boer, went through the opening formalities (you needed a ticket to get into the big room (Plenary) it was going on).

Setting the table as a reference from a scientific point of view, the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented that global emissions must peak no later than 2015 for a global temperature to be limited an increase of 2 to 2.4 degrees C.

Frankly, the proceedings that go on in the official body meetings have the consistency of cold molasses. It can really be mind numbing, and helps you to understand why so little has actually been accomplished as far as an international agreement goes. Still, there are important details to come out of all this. If you want info on what is happening in the negotiations, the International Institute for Sustainable Development does a good job of reporting a daily recap of the highlights.

Check www.iisd.ca/climate/COP15 for the daily bulletins.

At lunchtime outside the Plenary the much anticipated Flash Dance was staged by a healthy youth contingent. To the credit of the UNFCCC the process has actually allowed a considerable number of activist/youth organizations to have access to the meetings.

It went a little something like this:

“Oooooh, It’s HOT IN HERE.”

“There’s too much carbon in the at – mos – sphere

“take action, take action, and get some satisfaction” x2)

“No more delay”

“NO MORE DELAY!”

“Climate justice now”

“CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW

I shot some video but Blogger doesn’t like the file. To view it check it out on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sWHCEaNmNE

A small assortment of the multitude of talks going on included a press conference held by the Climate Action Network, where representatives from Oxfam, Greenpeace, and other orgs stated that people needed to be aware of various loopholes in an agreement as it appears on track to result in. These include credits owned by Eastern European nations under the Kyoto Treaty being used after 2012, differing counting methodologies for credits in the forestry sector, and the double counting of financing from the public and private sectors. They also took the European Union to task for not living up to its progressive image and laying money on the table to sponsor green development.

Speaking of, the EU later held an informational side event on Biochar, a form of pyrogenic (created through the thermal conversion of biomass) carbon that holds promise as a soil amendment to aid agriculture, and as a way to sequester carbon from biomass that would otherwise decompose into carbon dioxide and methane, the two main greenhouse gases. When pressed by someone from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (one group looking to promote biochar), an EU representative was non-committal on whether the body would officially support biochar projects (perhaps they are a bit gun-shy after their ill-fated biofuel enthusiasm). More on Biochar later from a side event to be held on Wednesday.

In the evening a reception was held for the conference attendees in the grand old City Hall building downtown. Local delicacies were to be had, but before too long we were ushered outside to hear the same folks from the beginning of the day address the city before the start of a concert by a popular Danish pop music group (they actually kicked off Yvo de Boer so that the concert could start on time for television).

Here we were officially welcomed as “Citizens of HOPENHAGEN”, the slogan of the conference through the city. They gave the delegates bright green SIGG water bottles and plastic ponchos. Hope it doesn’t rain too much, at least we are prepared.

Bright lights, wildly swinging cameras on long crown skimming booms, flaming cauldrons, it appeared the climatically PC Danes could not resist a bit of pomp and fanfare with the world spotlight.

I retired to a bright side pavilion that featured a collection of electrically assisted bikes. There I met a couple young folks who it turned out were MIT students (one from India, other east Asia) who had designed the cycles. They were of course pleased to see people gleely zipping around the enclosure of their contraptions, though they made it seem like it had been the easiest thing ever to put them together. We chatted about the batteries for a time to round out the evening.

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