TAG | anticipation
“I would rather see no deal at all than a watered-down version that doesn’t help anyone,” fellow U of M delegate Ahmed Tawfik told Keith Schneider of Circle of Blue and Climate Action Network. Ahmed isn’t alone. Only half way through the conference, already many people are beginning to fear that the bureaucratic powers-at-be won’t be able to deliver at the end of all of this. The problem as I see it is that there is such a disparity between the climate proposals that each nation has brought to the negotiating table, making it virtually impossible for anything but more dialogue and digress to emerge. But there isn’t time for more dialogue—our time is running out to make a change that can actually save lives.
However, the estimated 5,000 climate demonstrations planned for today—both in Copenhagen and around the world—might be the united front that all of these factions have been looking for. Maybe next week’s talks will “get serious” enough, following a weekend of international action, and the more than 50,000 expected to march today in Copenhagen.
This morning I woke up early to start researching the Global Day of Action, hosted in large part by many different groups in the TckTckTck coalition and Global Climate Campaign. In fact, there are currently more than 527 organizations and networks from 67 countries (85 from Denmark alone) that have signed on to be part of what is assured to be the largest demonstration on climate change to date.
In Copenhagen, a rally begins today at 1pm (AMS), with speakers and music at Christiansborg Slotsplads (Parliament Square). After mobilization efforts to energize the crowd, fifteen large recycled sails—each embellished with climate messages—will be carried more than three miles over the course of 2 hours, arriving at the Bella Center where they will be given directly to Yvo de Boer, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Executive Secretary. (Watch a video of Greenpeace preparing banners and signs for the event here.) A candle light vigil will immediately follow at 5pm.
Talk, from casual to argumentative form, has exhaustively covered environmental issues, climate change, global warming, or whatever political term you choose to describe the past, current, and future state of the planet. A lot of good has come from talking but at the same time, a lot of talking can lead to gridlock action (action = policy, decision making, implementation, regulation, etc..). I do not know what the talks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) will produce but there will be a lot of talk. As I will be making the trip to Denmark in just over a week to observe the largest congregation of nations discussing climate action, I am preparing myself to be overwhelmed with the complexity of talk surrounding the negotiation and design of global climate policy. Every environmental organization and interest group who can afford the trip will be present and talking in one form or another which will either create an endless learning environment for synthesizing information or the competition for attention will overpower the important take away messages. It will be interesting to see this dynamic in action. As for me, I will be doing a lot of listening.
At some point there is enough talk, assuming it is well supported scientifically, to make informed decisions. Decision making is the most actionable component of “talk” from which real action results. In global talks, infinite amounts of “good” information may never result in an agreeable decision as there are so many interests, but on smaller scales, decisions are made every day by individuals, households, businesses, and governments. In some cases, those who are responsible for making decisions in prevention for, or response to, climate change do not have the resources to make informed decisions. In response to the need for better tools to aid in the communication between scientists, who may or may not be the “talkers”, and decision makers, the climate services sector is emerging. Being a new type of service there is much to be learned and improved upon and it is in my interest to be an effective leader in furthering the communication between those who provide information and those who use it in decision making in order to have a positive impact on the environment.
As a person with interests ranging from the funding of micro-finance projects to restore rain-forests, to the emerging studies of emergy and water footprints, to the engendering of climate change as an issue to display the imbalance of risk posed by global warming onto women, I am beyond thrilled to be going to COP15.
Coming from a communication background, I am eager to see how people who are in complete denial of climate change(like Senator Inhofe from Oklahoma) will respond to meeting citizens of Arctic regions, Maldives, or Seychelles who are already in climate adaptation mode.
Actually being in Copenhagen allows for the opportunity to document the differences between on the ground blogging and eyewitness accounts versus the corporate media coverage of the conference proceedings. I have never been to a conference with state-level implications, let alone one which will decide global policy for years to come.
This will be a return trip to Copenhagen for me, having spent 5 days in Denmark in May during a month-long traveling course here at Alma College. While studying renewable and alternative energy related issues in Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, we visited with engineers, academics, government officials, and even an organic farmer in England working to make their countries more sustainable. While in Copenhagen, we met with graduate students and professors at Danish Technical University who were working on making both fuel cell and wind powered cars, an engineer at DONG Energy working on testing coal burning technology reaching close to 50% efficiency, and an official from the Danish Energy Agency working on setting Denmark’s own ambitious emission targets. It was an eye opening experience, though this trip promises to open them beyond what I can possibly imagine sitting in a computer lab in Alma, Michigan, waiting for my plane to leave DTW.