I am currently writing from Copenhagen, Denmark where I am attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference . The conference began on Monday, December 7th and I arrived on Thursday morning. The conference center is almost an indescribable chaos of international people. There are heads of states, ministers of environment, “parties” to the countries, and thousands (literally) of non-governmental delegations, including at least 500 American youth and who knows how many other youth from around the world and Europe. More and more people are arriving every day– there are an estimated 30,000 people accredited to attend the conference (also referred to as the conference of parties “COP” and this is the 15th one, hence COP15). The Bella Center, the home of the conference, can only hold 17,000 people so starting on Tuesday, delegations will have limit the number of people they allow in to accommodate everyone, especially given that the VIPs and heads of state mostly arrive next week. This means that I may not make into the center after Monday, but I am sure that there will be a large number of activities, demonstrations, workshops, etc for me to attend.
Thus far, my experience here is very hectic. The days are spent participating in a number of NGO and largely youth-student led “actions” which are put on largely to pressure the negotiators to take certain issues into account. Attending the actual negotiations and meetings between the government representations is difficult: most meetings are closed, or, if they are open they are difficult to get a seat in. Right now I am watching today’s plenary, but from a different room where they are projecting it on screens. From my standpoint currently it sounds like there are huge discrepancies between the nations on how they wish to proceed. Whether or not they will be able to determine something by the end of next week remains to be told. A rift between those who wish to abandon the Kyoto Protocol and who wish to continue is a significant problem. Of course, this is largely between the developing countries and the developed countries, and a general feeling that there is lack of fairness between these groups.
Currently, in town, there is a march starting right now from the city center all the way to the Bella Center. Apparently they are expecting over 50,000 people. I will probably go, but after this plenary is over. The activist atmosphere in the city is very invigorating, only further evidence that this is a global problem that the US public doesn’t fully understand. Here in Copenhagen, though, you would never know. This conference is inundated by climate justice activists from the US who want nothing more than a binding international climate change policy.
Well, I have to run because my computer is dying. More to come soon! 🙂 Greetings from Denmark! Love, Anna