Michigan at COP15 Blog |

Follow the U-M Delegation to the Climate Change Conference

United Nations Climate Change Conference Dec 07 - Dec 18, 2009

TAG | Climate Services



Aubrey Parker

Welcome to Bike Town, E.U.

I had heard from friends who studied abroad in Copenhagen that traveling by bike is “the only way to see the city,” but I was totally unprepared for the number of bikes that they have here.  The bike lanes are serious—clearly marked, and if a pedestrian dares to step out when the crosswalk is flashing red, there is no stopping on the bike’s part.  And the flow of traffic by the bikes is continuous: I would guesstimate that there is about one bike for every two cars on the road, or maybe in all actuality the percentage is even higher and I just don’t realize it because bikes are so much smaller than cars and take up less room on the road.  Whatever the case, it is amazing that in such a cold, dreary climate there are so many people willing—and somehow appear to actually enjoy—to ride around in the cold, adorned in mittens, scarves and hats, with any sort of belongings or groceries stowed away in the wicker baskets attached to the front.

What might be even more amazing to me is that virtually no one locks their bike here: I would say the rate of bikes with locks is probably less than 20 percent.  Which makes economical sense, to some extent—if everyone already has a bike, there is high supply and therefore very low demand, so not only the cost of new bikes from a store is low, but also those that are hocked on the black market.  Why steal a bike if you already have one yourself and you have no one to sell it to?

Read more about the how public transportation promotes green initiatives in Copenhagen at my blog for the Detroit Free Press!

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Laura Bell

Talking to Deciding to Acting

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.

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