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World leaders start critical climate talks in Copenhagen

Copenhagen COP15 LogoEditor’s note: Greenbang will be providing daily dispatches and ongoing updates from the climate change talks in Copenhagen, and is covering the conference virtually to keep our carbon footprint low.

COP15, the global talks on climate change, kicked off today in Copenhagen with thousands of delegates in attendance.

The gathering launched with a screening of “Please Help the World,” a four-minute long film directed by Mikkel Blaabjerg Poulsen. The film depicts a young girl who implores politicians to help the world after waking from a nightmare about the devastating impacts of climate change.

“I hope that the film can affect politicians in a positive way, so that they may raise their goals a little higher, because their emotions have been touched,” Poulsen said.

After the film, the negotiations began with speeches from Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Yvo De Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Denmark’s prime minister; and President Connie Hedegaard, president of COP15.

Other developments on the first day of COP15 include:

  • UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband writes from Copenhagen, “Today’s the first day of the formal talks and now 110 leaders have agreed to be there in the end game. I’m convinced that will make a difference. We have to go for maximum ambition — there’s no way this is a done deal. News today is that China have said their emissions will peak between 2030 and 2040, South Africa have put a number on the table and India’s PM is coming. Check back here for more updates.”
  • THINK, the Scandinavian electric vehicle maker, and its largest fleet customer, Move About, the Norwegian car-share fleet operator, are providing 15 THINK City courtesy vehicles for delegates attending the conference.
  • Ode Magazine is in Copenhagen to distribute 75,000 copies of a special publication called “The Solutions We Need Now” to delegates, business leaders and activists. A free digital version is also available via www.solutionsweneednow.org. The publication highlights a host of innovative ideas for tackling climate change, storing carbon dioxide and developing clean energy. “We may expect a lot of doom and gloom about rising sea levels and drowning polar bears in Copenhagen over the next two weeks,” said Ode co-founder and editor-in-chief Jurriaan Kamp. “However, the challenge of climate change also presents an unprecedented opportunity for humanity to clean up the environment, create jobs, and build a fairer and more just world. The technology to do this is available and affordable.”
  • Specialist tax advising firm Taxand says then carbon border taxes look to be the likely long-term legacy of the Copenhagen talks. However, it notes that such legislation should encourage developing countries with sustainable growth rather than “beating them over the head with a potentially unworkable and blunt instrument; implementation would be counterproductive to the over-arching aims of Copenhagen.”
  • Live webcasts of COP15 talks can be viewed here.
  • Scientists attending the COP15 conference today held a side event aimed at highlighting nitrogen’s role in climate change, saying there is an immediate need for a global assessment of the nitrogen cycle and its impact on climate. On a planetary scale, human activities, especially fertiliser application, have more than doubled the amount of reactive nitrogen in circulation on land. This massive alteration of the nitrogen cycle affects climate, food security, energy security, human health and ecosystem health. The long-term consequences of these changes are yet to be fully realised, but the human impact on the nitrogen cycle has so far been largely missed in international environmental assessments.

1 Comment

  • John Glover
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I can’t help thinking the organisers of this summit missed a trick here. Is it entirely appropriate for all delegates and observers to be flying in and out of Copenhagen, sending carbon footprints rocketing? Even if face-to-face networking is considered essential in some measure, wouldn’t it make sense to expand discussions to a wider audience of stakeholders over and extended period with a little helping hand from energy efficient technology?

    Have online collaboration and consultancy exercises across web 2.0 platforms been completely overlooked? It certainly seems so, as far as the wider public audience are aware, and it’s a complete mystery as to why this is. Why would world leaders with access to the best technology advisors available to choose to ignore this route? Yes, it’s perhaps great visual PR to have line up luminaries on a stage together, smiling and shaking hands for the cameras. But there surely has to come a time when the photo opportunities are put to one side in favour of a strong, forward-thinking environmental message that emphasises the valuable and practical role technological development can play in protecting our environment.

    It would actually have sent out a more positive image for many of these delegates NOT to have been seen together, and instead allowed themselves to be pictured using environmentally friendly alternatives to consult and engage together online remotely, without spending all those damaging air miles.

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