Thursday, December 17, 2009

As the World Turns...

Anyone remember that soap opera? It was one of the less "popular" ones. I myself was an All My Children (thanks Papa) and General Hospital (thanks Jen & Jor) addict. So, I can't comment on the plotline of As the World Turns but i think the beginning had a spinning globe and an hourglass - maybe not? in any case, the point is As the World Turns is a fitting name for the soap opera taking place at the Bella Center. As we last left our cast of characters:

African and Small Island Nations walked out of negotiations! will developed nations meet their demands and get them back?
The President of the COP resigned 2 days before the conference ends! Does this mean there is no hope?
Protestors raided the Bella and were met with tear gas and violence. will they try again?
Friends of the Earth was locked out of negotiations and won't take passes offered by the UNFCCC minister. How many passes would be "enough"?

In our next episode we find out:
Will China agree to transparency in its emissions reporting?
Will the developed nations agree to raise more than $100 billion a year?
Will Kyoto survive?
Will there be a treaty?
Will the US swoop in at the last minute and save the whole world!? (hint of sarcasm in that one...)

oh the drama!
oh the suspense!

To find out what happens - tune in to the last day of the conference live:

though these last 2 weeks have felt in some ways like an international soap opera i am not making light of the importance of tomorrow! It is vital that we end this conference with a FAB deal!!! too much time has gone by, too much momentum has been gained and too much rests on the outcome to end now. Failing to come out with something tomorrow is just not an option.

there are so many conflicting reports right now, my head is spinning! It seems on one hand that nations like the US and China acknowledge that Copenhagen is too important to leave empty-handed where the developing countries feel hopeless that the best offers by the developed nations just aren't good enough. It's a tough call - the developed nations are looking at this from an economic standpoint and the developing nations look at it from a survival standpoint. where is the middle ground between those points?

i will cover what i can as soon as i know - oh to be a fly on the wall at Bella tomorrow...

well all i can say is that if soap stars manage to be married 7 times, have 10 affairs, find their evil twin, be buried alive, shot, suffer amnesia while stranded on a deserted island after falling off of a ship, and still manage to come back unscathed- surely As Copenhagen Turns can manage to create a comprehensive climate treaty with more than adequate financing to support LDCs while reaching target emissions levels of 350ppm, creating green jobs, sustainably developing, and preserving ecosystems & cultures all in a legally binding framework, right?

tune in to find out...
Here is a link to a piece written in the Billings Gazette from the press conference yesterday.

you may also find it interesting to read the comments to this article - oh Billings! a good reminder that there is still plenty of work to be done... :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

bad blogger. good tourist.

I realized today that i had not yet blogged about a few of the panels i attended as well as updates from the "outside" - since i can no longer get into the Bella. My diligence to my blog will reign once more - but for now i am enjoying my role as a Denmark tourist.

Last night we went to the Rundetaarn (Roundtower) It was pretty amazing. Built in the 1600's, the tower now sits in the middle of shops, restaurants and the busy streets of Norrebro district in Copenhagen. To get to the top of the tower, you spiral up along a brick walkway. Halfway up is the library which is now an open gallery and area where concerts and other events are held. There was an exhibit called the Soul of Greenland which featured some amazingly beautiful photographs of Greenland. Up further are some of the original beams in the bell tower. At the top is an observatory built in the 1920's. The domed roof is wooden and weighs 4 tons, but is rigged on a pulley system so you can turn it and then open the roof to observe different parts of the night sky through a huge telescope. Sadly with the snow and rain we could not open the roof to look at any stars - but i get to move the roof which was pretty exciting! The man who conducts the celestial viewings was just the type of person you would expect to see at the top of a 17th century tower. :) i;m kidding - he was pretty great - a cute little old man who you can tell is very science-y and loves sharing the stars with visitors. we talked for a bit about light pollution and how that impacts the viewing from the observatory. He said his favorite thing to see out of the telescope are planets - especially Saturn with the moons! From the observatory you can also step outside onto a platform and walk along the outside of the tower and look out at all of Copenhagen! it was amazing - even in the rain/snow.

From there we headed over to Hopenhagen for the Gogol Bordello show. there were a lot of people despite the weather - the power of music - especially good music! They were a really entertaining band.

Most of the day today i worked on a paper for class but this evening we had a press conference with some Montana media. I think it went really well. Yaicha read a statement on behalf of her, Zach and me (which is posted on her blog, i believe) and then KC, Keegan and Payton were also on the call in Copenhagen as well Dr. Steve Running and Beth Berlin from back in the States. I think it was a great call and it will be interesting to see how the media covers it - so be on the lookout and let me know if you see or hear anything!

It has been snowing all day today and has now begun to stick. The lit tree in the courtyard of my flat is now covered with the perfect amount of white snow that brings with it the reminder how the simple things in life can be so beautiful. In the waning days of this conference i can only hope that the simple things like the calm quiet of heavy white snow on pine trees serves as a reminder of just how beautiful our world is and how snow is just one of the millions of reasons to do everything we can to "save" this place we call our home. Speaking of, the snow also reminds me of my home and the friends and family i have there. Though i love Copenhagen, i miss my friends and family and look forward to being back home - hopefully with the triumph of a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty!!!

To ensure that i can come home - head held high - PLEASE take just a few moments tomorrow and Friday to call the White House and urge Obama to action!! The number for the White House switchboard – 1-202-456-1111. - and simply say: “President Obama, please show real leadership on the climate issue, not just a greenwash deal. Deepen our cuts, put long-term funding on the table and stop waiting for other countries to go first. Prove that America is the world leader we always claim.” - or whatever you want to prompt climate action!

Then working off of the adrenaline rush you now gained from dialing the White House, use that energy to call up (and call out) your Senators and Reps. - piece of cake after conversing with the President! :)

these final days are so important and will make or break Friday's outcome. One of the questions in our press conference today and one that the media has been covering a lot is the notion that a treaty is hopeless. - that with the US, China and India playing the "no, you first" game of emission reductions and Africa, small island nations and other LDCs walking out in frustration at the lack of aggressive action, nothing is going to be accomplished.

My response is that you must expect obstacles - great obstacles - in this process, but that you have to believe that our world leaders care about the fate of the forests, glaciers, water, sky, people... I talked about the potential power of belief in an earlier post and i think we must. We must believe AND act. The sheer energy and momentum both from the gathering of activists to the gathering of world leaders at this conference is unprecedented and is cause for a type of hope that could not be found in negotiations past. So, fuel that momentum from wherever you are on this beautiful planet and tell those representing you that you want a FAB - fair, ambitious and binding - deal come Friday!!

well, it is way past my copenhagen bedtime - so until tomorrow!

god nat (goodnight)

Monday, December 14, 2009


see photos of our adventures so far:

Farvel Bella!

I am feeling that kind of pang of sadness you feel when something is coming to an end, that you don't want to end, but know is inevitable.

I am hanging out in the Bella Center - for no other reason than i know i won't be coming back again. I have no more sessions to attend. It's dark out. I've been here all day. I've already had two cups of strong coffee and my snacks are gone. i want to go home - but i don't want to leave...

I like the routine i have established - i like all that i have been able to see, learn, the people i have met, and the experiences i have had - and not that it is over (when one door closes and all that jazz...) - but this one part is. My routine of pastry shop, bus, Bella, security, coat check, coffee, plenary, side event...will be no more. It's not so much that i will miss the Bella Center itself (which is like any huge convention center anywhere) - but more so what it has represented - my ability to be a part of this historical and meaningful gathering- my ability to lend my voice in a way i would not have been able to, had i not been here. And i am so grateful and feel so lucky that i had the opportunity to be here. (I have decided that the COPs have not seen the last of me - i will be back for the next one and in a position to lend an even heavier, more vocal opinion. Watch out COP16!!)

We just received an e-mail that on thurs. they are only admitting 1,000 people representing NGOs and on Friday, only 90 people!! I feel bad for all of the side events planned for those days, as attendance will be sparse. But, given the communication we recieved late last week as well as the presence of so many heads of state, i can see why they are severly limiting attendance. Not to mention that the entourage that each official brings cuts out that many others from being able to attend. Over 110 officials with aids, security, etc. cuts a large chunk out of the 15,000 person capacity at Bella.


In the middle of writing this post, my internet totally cut out. Ok, Bella - i get the hint, i'll go. I may have a hard time letting go of things - but i also know how to bow out gracefully. :) So, now i am finishing my post at home, in my pj's, while watching a German program subtitled in Danish - hmm? I do have to say a warm house, no more heels and dresses and bare legs, a hot meal and my cozy bed is kind of lovely. Bella who? ah, love is so fleeting... :)

Anyway - before leaving Bella, I happened upon a briefing by the President of COP to civil society. She basically updated us on the status of the negotiations and took questions from the audience.

I really like her and i think she is a great President for this COP. In the times i have heard her speak, this evening being no exception, she seems adamant about ending this conference with something comprehensive and meaningful. She said that the events of today - with African nations walking out, was a normal thing for COPs. But - not in the sense that it was an unimportant event - but just that these are the obstacles that delegates go through in creating a treaty - it's part of the process and no matter how frustrated people seem now and how doubful we are that something comprehensive will result, in the end we always get something. (the hope of course is that the "something" we get is a comprehensive, binding, aggressive, and fair deal!).

She also emphasized her committment in creating a binding deal by Friday - because if not now, then when? In her words, there is no better time than now to create a treaty. Though the form of the treaty may take until next year to finalize, we need to come out of this conference with substance. There is no time like the present - Never will this many heads of state be together - never will there be so much momentum and pressure as there is now. And she is right. We need a deal now and there is no point in waiting - because at this point another year or two will not bring about a different situation and countries would not likely bring any different negotions or more ambitious cuts to the table a year from now. So, it's now or never.

what she did ask is that citizens keep up the momentum (even though we can't be in the Bella Center) and keep putting pressure on leaders and we need to show we believe in the ability of our world leaders to create a binding and aggressive deal. I found that statement to be an interesting twist and found myself wondering if i actually did have faith in the leaders of the world - and should i have faith? Should i change my attitude of skepticism? Maybe i should start saying "i believe" - i believe that the leaders of the world will do the right thing. I believe that the leaders of the world will negotiate and come out with an aggressive, fair and binding deal - aimed at reducing GHG emissions so as to avoid a more than 1-2 degree C rise in temperature and to find long-term funding to support the sustainable development of both developing and developed nations... and maybe if i say that enough times, i will begin to believe that i believe?

Being a stones throw from Sweden, I will quote a Swedish proverb that says, “Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours”

So, "I believe..."


Read this article by Bill McKibbon in Mother Jones. He really echoes the sentiment that i am feeling and what i conveyed (or hoped that i was able to convey) a few posts ago. you may want to have a handkerchief handy, glad i did. :)

are we doing enough and if not, what else can we do?

today's theme: WAIT

I guess you could say the theme of this enire conference is waiting - waiting to see what what parties negotiate; waiting to see what kind of treaty comes out of this conference, but today was the manifestation of a different kind of waiting - the standing around kind.

We got to the Bella Center at our usual time - around 8:30 am and were met by a huge line or queue as it is called here. there was a queue for people who have not yet registered - which has been long every day - but then there were also 2 huge lines for those people with badges to get in. We stood in this line - outside - for almost and hour and a half! It was sooo freazing i could not even feel my toes any longer - and we had no idea what we were waiting for or for how long.

At one point, though, they were playing some pretty good music (dancing helped a bit to warm us up) - Bob Marley and James Brown - nothing like a little "sex machine" at 8 am in the cold.

But then, the music stopped and the people's climate action demonstration started. They had a pretty awesome painted mural/banner of world leaders from what i think might have been the G8 - Obama was in the middle and all the other leaders were pointing to him - except Canada who was for some reason drooling? weird. anyway, it got even weirder when they begun throwing shoes at the mural. no joke. they had a bucket of shoes that they pelted at the mural. At first i thought it might have been a mock of when Bush got the shoes thrown at him - but i think they were saying something about how we will all be walking barefoot because of climate change. I am not sure, but it was mildly entertaining for the moment and took my mind away from the on-set of frost bite to my toes. (of course this was the day i decided to wear a dress, heels and no tights).

At one point during the wait, some Britsh news station came over and interviewed me asking how long we had been waiting outside. At that point it had been over an hour - which means i was a frozen popsicle - i am sure my nose was red and running and then to top it off, they zoomed in on my badge - which if you read my previous entry - was not the most flattering photo. Great - my "15 minutes" of fame marked by wind-swept tresses, barely audible speech from my frozen lips, a red runny nose and a close-up of my mug shot-esque badge photo! All who read this are strictly banned from attempting to find said news tidbit on the internet.

After (FINALLY) being let into the Bella Center - and walking past throngs of people waiting to be registered, we got in and through security with hardly a wait. I still don't know why we had to wait outside for over an hour?

After picking up the daily programme, grabbing a cup of coffee and slowly dethawing - we realized to our disappointment - there were not many great sessions to attend. Usually there are are multiple panels and talks that i want to atend each day. This is most likely my last day in the Bella Center and there are no sessions i really want to see - or the ones i would have wanted to see started and ended as i watched people throwing shoes in subzero temperatures.

There was, however, a plenary session that i was excited about and decided i would just sit through that the whole day. It was a President's informal consultation inviting all parties to address major issues requiring political guidance. On the agenda were issues ranging from long-term emission reductions and sustainable development, mitigation, market-based approaches, financing, trade, etc. Perfect! what a great way to end my conference-attending experience. We got into the plenary an hour early (because that is the only way to ensure you won't be locked out) - and we waited. The hour went by - the room filled up, yet they did not start. Then they made all NGO's move to a certain part of the room (which has not happened to me yet. Usually you can sit anywhere in the back section). Wait. Wait. Wait. Announcement: the plenary ois delayed (really) but everyone please stay where you are. hmm? ok. wait. wait. wait. Annoucement: the plenary will start at 1:30 (it was supposed to start at 11:30 and we had been waiting in the room since 10:30.). By this time, it was 1:10 - so 20 more minutes is no big deal. snacks and more waiting. Until, 1:45 when security came around and announced that all NGOs had to leave the room. they were closing the session and only parties were permitted. No one knew why, but we had to pack up and leave immediately.

So, yaicha and i decided not to completely leave, but rather hang out in the lobby - incase they let us back in to the plenary. But outside of the lobby - they were turning away anyone that was not a party (not even press is allowed where i am right now). So, right now in the lobby we are covertly acting like "party" members and hoping not to get kicked out.

As a side note this is where the benefits of proper attire come into play. In preliminary meetings before coming here the youth delegation that we are with discussed how they did not want to dress up but would rather just dress in normal "street clothes" as a statement of non-confomity. And, i think that is fine. For me, i knew that i wanted to dress up and look professional - you never know who you will meet - or in this case where you get to be. I think because I "blend" in at the moment - and i am sitting quietly on my computer, no one is questioning me being in this room, where technically, i am not allowed to be. Had i been dressed differently, i think security would have singled me out and made me leave. Not that it means anything - it's just a very interesting aspect of society that i have been thinking about lately - presentation matters.

Anyway - the reason for being kicked out for closing the plenary is that there is a flury of activity. African nations have walked out of negotiations until the developed nations agree to step it up (YAY for them!). They have said they will not come to the table until an agreement is reached that developed nations will increase their emission reduction targets.

It has been awesome to sit in this lobby to the plenary! No one but parties are allowed in, so you can see the flury as they are rushing around! At one point i looked back and the President of COP15 was right behind me!!! She said something about the issue being resolved. I really really wish i could be in that plenary right now!! I imagine the discussions are so intense and contentious!

If i could be granted one wish right now, it would be to understand all languages - so i could hear what groups of people are saying as they furiously gather, chattering in the lobby.

Outside the lobby there is some sort of demonstration going on - i can hear the clapping and chanting - but i dare not move for fear that my covertly turned badge would betray me to reveal my yellow NGO badge status.

i am currently sitting in the middle of what i believe to be the entire India delegation. need a genie in a bottle - pronto!

So much going on in here, outside!!! but i have no idea what!!

check out these articles for more information:

here is an interesting twist?