I have been reflecting on what I have gained from COP15 and Denmark. And interestingly enough the most memorable moments aren’t as much from their connection to the conference but to the people.

During the one week course I met extraordinary people who were engaged and involved in what some have called the Environmental Movement, but also people who just simply wanted to help each other. That is what I recall to be the most poignant aspects of COP15, is citizens worldwide who were committed to addressing and adapting for themselves and for others.

Politicians have recognized this aspect as well

COP15 did not quell my suspicions about politicians negotiating in vague terms with no strong commitment to addressing climate change, but it showed me all of the individuals who aren’t waiting for their politicians to take action, but demanding those changes through their own actions. Some have led the Copenhagen fallout to indicate “Climategate” and global warming hysteria that has no authoritative science backing it.

Others recognize how their actions affect people.

Some think American politicians have invested interests in non renewable resources

Others think Developed Countries are hoarding and polluting without helping to sustain Developing Countries:

All the various opinions in mind, I find it important that they are at any rate being expressed.

Aside from the public activism regarding the conference, I was also inspired by the kindness of the Danish people. There were several instances during my stay that had they happened in America may not have ended as pleasantly;

At one point I left my purse on the train and immediately a women noticed and called out, the guards noticed the situation and were able to obtain the purse for me by getting off the train and switching back to my stop. All the while another guard had his walkie talkie and assured me my purse would be returned. Sure enough it was, in the span of two minutes. Something tells me American guards may not be so considerate.

Another instance was during the day Adam Ellsworth and I volunteered at the REDD+ Gala event at the Royal Theater, of which I had originally thought to be in the Opera.  After finding my way to the Opera, I spoke with the security guard there whom gave his best effort to help me determine where I needed to be.  He even allowed me to use his computer to find the contact information and gave me a cup of coffee saying, “it is too early, you are thinking too much!”

And of course, my host family. As mentioned before Samantha and I stayed with a Danish family that was placed for us through New Life Copenhagen. Besides being more than hospitable by feeding us meals, waking us up in the morning, and driving us to and from the train station. They were lovely people whom I connected with and hope to see again. On the last day of our trip, they took Samantha, Ben, and I to Sweden on a day trip. My experience with them was a pleasant surprise and will leave a lasting impression on me.

Interacting with all of these individuals showed me something many Americans have seemed to forgotten; their sense of community. Reestablishing the importance of community and local support in areas can stimulate local economy and potentially make citizens more conscious of the products they consume.

Tak, Denmark.



No longer in Queuenhagen

Samantha and I are back in America after some interesting days of confusions and flight cancellations with missing luggage. Thankfully we have our luggage back and are in one whole piece. To express our frustration I am posting the chanting from us Queuing on Monday.

UN, let us in

Some Pictures

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu, December 15th, 2009

Arnold Schwarzenegger giving a speech

Arnold Schwarzenegger Dec 15, 2009

Naomi Klein and others discuss climate justice, Dec. 9th, 2009

Al Gore, Dec. 14, 2009

Al Gore, Dec. 14, 2009

— Adam Ellsworth

Time to Negotiate

President Obama arrived in Copenhagen in the early morning, as we are all slowly gathering the proceedings of the negotiations, some aren’t as enthusiastic about his speech before they began and have claimed it to rerun everything discussed in the past ten days without any further commitment of lowering emissions as some have wanted from the US. COP15 is coming to an end, and it has been said that an agreement will come soon, whether it will be binding, or something that will effect change is yet to be determined. The time has been extended for the treaty, but whether that is enough time is hardly certain.

Things have been rather hectic here, hence my lack of posts.  I am also in the process of finishing a project simultaneously, but there is a plethora of information and experiences I want to express here, more information to come soon.


Final Days and Snowstorms

On Wednesday, Renee Willoughby and I served as the lead ushers at the REDD+ Gala at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, an awards ceremony honoring various environmental and political leaders for their work in the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) Program (We did not actually get a chance to watch the ceremony, however, so we could better fulfill our volunteering obligations). Among the persons honored at the ceremony included our own University of Michigan Delegation member Gabriel Thoumi, the presidents of Papua New Guinea, Guyana, and Gabon, along with the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council Francis Beinecke, Rainforest Alliance Senior Vice President Richard Donovan, Bonobo Conservation Initative President Sally Coxe, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall designer Maya Lin, and many more. It was an honor to be among such people who are working to save millions of acres of forests around the world through various projects.

Before the ceremony and continuing throughout the night and the following day, around three inches of snow fell in Copenhagen with more in some areas by the coast, delaying train schedules. I thought it was metaphoric that as I was walking out of the Royal Theatre at midnight to catch one of the last trains home, the snow was untouched and gave me the feeling that the following day, when more of the world´s important leaders would arrive to the Bella Center, there would be clean slate. However, by the next morning when they would begin to gather, the snow had become blackened by cars, snowplows, road salt and de-icing compounds, making what had looked promising in the beginning turn to a mess.

On a different note, we learned last night the police in the town seem to have been given almost Martial Law-esque orders to arrest anyone who even looks remotely suspicious.  Multiple conversations with people on the bus have supported this, with one teenager saying he was detained and essentially strip searched likely because he was wearing all black outerwear with his hood up due to the cold.

— Adam Ellsworth

There is Still Hope

The last couple of days have been very exciting and informative.  On Tuesday, we got into the Bella Center and I saw Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Al Gore speak.  On Wednesday, I went to a couple of side events in the Bella Center that talked about green jobs that will come from an agreement in Copenhagen.  I also saw a panel of mayors from around the world that talked about how they are reducing carbon emissions in their own cities.  Their overall message was that they will continue to work toward making their cities more sustainable even if the UN does not come up with an agreement—it was very reassuring.  Today, we went to some of the side events in the city such as the Klima Forum which is a side conference about climate change and we went into the center of Copenhagen to an event called Hopenhagen.  We explored a lot of the exhibits and I was very impressed.

I was extremely moved by Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s panel discussion that was sponsored by Oxfam.  I did not know that countries are being so negatively affected by climate change already.  He brought four people who live in different parts of the world that are being affected by climate change and invited them to tell their stories.  Archbishop Tutu was very firm in his message that listening to one another is the key to ending climate change.  He wanted to convey that, “We are interconnected…we are bound together.”  He wanted to remind us that those that are being affected by climate change are not the ones that are causing it and he is calling for the largest polluters to do their part and help these countries. 

A man from Peru talked about the changing seasons in his country due to climate change, “Weather seasons have changed completely.”  He told us that there is rain followed by drought and cold fronts with hail.  Their water sources are depleting which causes less food to be available because there are fewer crops.  A woman from Papua New Guinea also believes that the world’s leaders need to start listening.  Her opinion on industrialized countries is that they need to, “Learn to care and love other people.”  A woman from Bangladesh had an extremely tragic story.  Their family owned a farm, but due to climate change and changing sea levels the soil has too high of a salinity to farm anymore.  Her husband started collecting honey in the jungle to feed their family and was eaten by a tiger.  Several months later, their village flooded and her home was washed away and their village is still under water.  She said that the climate has changed dramatically and describes it as, “Very unpredictable.”  They have long, hot summers and short winters with little rain.  She told us, “I want my life back.”  The final panel member was a woman from Uganda who has flooding in her village as well.  The flooding brought on drought and sickness—especially in infants.  She told us the homes and schools are still empty.  They once had two seasons a year and now they do not have any.  They are having a hard time growing crops because they have no signs telling them when they should plant and harvest. She told us, “We want our seasons back.”  Many of the panelists also called for developed countries to do their part and start helping the developing countries that are being affected by the pollution from the developed nations.

Designating funds for the countries that have been affected by climate change has been a big part of the negotiations in Copenhagen.  Many of these countries brought delegates so that their voices can be heard in the big debate.  With many of the world’s leaders arriving today and tomorrow, I am still hopefully that an agreement will be made.

-Samantha LaChance

The Oil Sheik Dance

I apologize for the shaky video.  Things were just stating to get busy in the square so there was a lot of people walking by.  I really liked this performance,  I think this group really made the atmosphere less tense.  Even the few cops that came over to watch seemed to like it.

Ben Roberts