The Sun has Set on Copenhagen and the COP-15

Actually, the sun set here in Copenhagen several hours ago, but it seems to have also set for the COP.  A new accord appears to have been reached this evening, but it falls short of most expectations.  This morning, President Obama flew in to deliver a disappointing speech in front of the UN and then ducked through a closed-door to spend the rest of the afternoon in private talks with a handful of world leaders.  Shortly after, accusations flew from other countries that these secret talks violated the democratic process necessary for the UN to function.

After a long day of waiting on the edge of our seats, Obama held another brief press conference to say that his meetings had been “successful.”  However, he had little substantive points to offer.  Needless to say, our team feels let down that Copenhagen failed to be the shining moment in history when the world united to focus on our common future.  Most of us leave here tomorrow feeling disappointed and exhausted, but we have a renewed sense of commitment to gain ground on the domestic front.

Even if the United States was unable to be the leader during these talks, the long road ahead of us is clear.   We hope that our readers have enjoyed our thoughts and observations during our time at the COP-15.  Even in disappointment, we each feel privileged to have been here to witness this historical process.


Hillary Clinton Arrives

Clinton addressing the COP (Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix)

At a press briefing today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged that the United Stated will contribute its “fair share” of the $100 billion dollars needed for developing countries to deal with the negative effects of climate change IF the parties can come together on an agreement by the end of the COP.  This has been categorized by the prime minister of Tuvalu as dangling a carrot in front of the poorest countries in an effort to get them to agree to a less binding agreement.  Tuvalu, and many of the other low-lying island countries, still insist that they will not sign an agreement that allows for more than a 1.5 degree celsius increase.

Along with announcing a financial commitment from the United States, Secretary Clinton pressured China to agree to outside monitoring of its emissions levels.  The stand-off between the United States and China, the top two global emitters, continued into the latter portion of the day.  China has now made a few statements implying a commitment to transparency, but has yet to specify exactly what those statements mean.

Only one day left for the UNFCCC to pull off an agreement here in Copenhagen.


Via Campesina & Sustainable Agriculture

 

Ecologist M. Jahi Chappell, PhD discusses the impact the globalization of food distribution has on climate change.

While a portion of our team was able to make it into the Bella Center for the COP yesterday, a few of us headed over to the Kilmaforum for a fantastic presentation by La Via Campesina called “Small Scale Sustainable Farmers are Cooling Down the Earth.”  This diverse panel included small-scale farmers and activists from Tanzania, Brazil, Canada, Korea & Japan.

Accompanying Via Campesina was M. Jahi Chappell, PhD from Cornell University to report on a study his research team completed which showed the impact industrial agriculture has on global climate change, versus the low impact of small-scale, local farms on the environment.

The numbers tell the story.  Continue reading


Transparency & Civilian Participation Falls Apart at COP15

After a disappointing day for many of us, who waited in seemingly endless lines to nowhere, the COP has essentially come to an early end… at least for observers.

As anticipated, COP15 has become the most attended climate COP to date.   Unfortunately, the Bella Center in Copenhagen (capacity of 15,000) is not large enough to handle the overwhelming number of parties and observers that traveled to Copenhagen (over 30,000) to view history unfold.  Today at the COP, it was announced that a new system for entry would be instituted for the remainder of the convention.  As a result, our ability to observe has been significantly restricted.  The VLS delegation was issued only 4 secondary badges that we can use at any one time to enter the Bella center to view negotiation and side events.  However, even the secondary badges are not going to ensure our access.  Continue reading


Half Way

With the first week of the COP 15 coming to an end, a draft proposal is finally on the table, although it leaves many of the details still “to be determined.”  http://unfccc.int/files/kyoto_protocol/application/pdf/draftcoretext.pdf

During negotiations this morning, Tuvalu made another impassioned plea for the world to realize that its very survival depends on a binding and effective  agreement.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuG5vR3HJDU]

Negotiations this afternoon went back and forth as the parties are still divided about whether or not to abandon the Kyoto Protocol  in favor of a totally new agreement.   

Continue reading


How to Respond to a “Climate Change Skeptic”

Suspended globe from official COP15 US Center - US agencies/entities running the US center include: Departments of State, Agriculture, Transportation, Commerce, Energy, Interior & Treasury, along with the EPA, NOAA and NASA. Check out the US Center at: http://www.cop15.state.gov/

With the “leaked email scandal” from last week that many climate change opponents have turned to as “proof” that scientists have been falsifying, exaggerating, or just plain lying about climate change data, I think it is important to reflect on just how proven human induced climate change is.

If you aren’t convinced by the scientific bodies such as the IPCC, NOAA and the EPA (who finalized its endangerment finding to kick off the COP-15), then perhaps you would prefer to hear from some lesser known “climate science acknowledgers.”

First up at bat, who can forget our former President George W. Bush, a climate change denier for years, when he finally admitted that the effects were real and man-made and that  we need to “take this issue seriously“.

Continue reading


View From the Plenary

The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) met today for the 1st Plenary II meeting.  (There are two major plenary, the other by the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).)  The SBSTA’s agenda for the day included issues surrounding the development and transfer of technologies, research and systematic observations, and how to reduce emissions from developing countries.

One of the largest programs potentially coming out of COP-15 is the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD).  I will be focusing most of my personal research on this program during my time in Copenhagen.  The REDD programme reports that “[d]eforestation and forest degradation, through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging, fires etc., account for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector.”

With this in mind, many organizations and countries are eager to see an agreement about how best to implement and fund this program.  Today, the representative from the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) gave a call to action but reminded delegates that “Forests are more than carbon.”  He stressed the spiritual and cultural connection that indigenous peoples share with the forests, as well as their reliance on these ecosystems for their own livelihood.