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Sharing the COP15 Experience

Yesterday, the VLS delegation to Copenhagen reported back to the law school community about the COP15 negotiations and their experience at the climate conference.  Attached is a slide show sharing their adventures with you in pictures, enjoy!  COP15 Experience in Pictures

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.

Americentrism at its finest…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/18/obama-speech-copenhagen-climate-summit

COP15 coming to a close…

As the negotiations are coming to a close, a select number of world leaders are struggling to come to an agreement.

Here is a smattering of recent press:

World leaders come together to continue meeting

The world’s leaders have come together once again to move the climate negotiations forward, after having gathered in smaller groups during the afternoon.  At the same time the UN conference continues in the form of large meetings.  Barack Obama, Wen Jiabao, Ban Ki-moon and Fredrik Reinfeldt were among the speakers in plenary during the afternoon. Read More »

Millions Gather to Protest COP15

(Photo from http://pipec.ru

The world’s cutest and  most vulnerable gather to protest the lack of action at COP15.  Our own Christine Ryan from Vermont Law sent this to us.  A moment of brevity is needed in these dark hours. Let’s hope these snowpeople survive.  Let’s hope we all do.

Senator John Kerry: “Amateur hour is over. It’s time for science fact to trump science fiction.”

Wednesday, December 16, our last day in the Bella Center due to NGO restrictions, was an intense day.  In the first meeting, we witnessed the resignation of COP15 President Connie Hedegaard and several Heads of State statements, as well as the concern from developing countries regarding the imposition of the Danish text.

Senator Kerry at the Bella Center

I left the plenary to hear U.S. Senator John Kerry discuss the critical role of a global deal in advancing domestic legislation.  Kerry is the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and lead author of the Senate’s climate bill.

As I was attempting to enter the meeting, I ran into Brice Lalonde, Kerry’s first cousin and French ambassador in charge of international climate change negotiations since 2007.  I had the luck of finding a seat in the front row!

Read More »

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.

Full Bella Center Creates New Opportunities for Interaction

The recent crackdown in NGO participation has, as you may have seen from previous posts, left several from the VLS contingent “eventless” for the past few days.  As a result, events like Bright Green, KlimaForum and the International Energy Agency’s Policy and Technology Day have become increasingly attractive not only for those of us interested in the a legal perspective but for the general accredited-yet-Conference-less population.

As a result, I decided to make my way toward downtown Copenhagen this morning to Read More »

The Protest

Police block the highway en route to the Bella Center

Police block the highway en route to the Bella Center

Update: Click the pictures for better view.

After watching protesters get pushed around by police online in front of the Bella Center, I jumped on the bike and rode 3 miles on a wet and muddy bike path and took the following shots.

The main thoroughfares and highway bridges were blocked by strategically parked police vans surrounded by officers directing traffic. They were dressed, I believe, in riot gear and Read More »

Powerful Statements from the Plenary

I am not one of the three in our group in the plenary today, but I have been watching the live streaming for the past 4 hours.  Various heads of states are now giving their 5-10 minutes statements.  I just listened to the Prime Minister of Mali, Modibo Sidibe and the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.  Below are my hastily taken notes from their speeches (both through UN translators so these texts not the specific words of these leaders):

Photo source: Wikipedia

Mr. Sidibe  - “I want to tell you a story about my relationship for the past 50 years with a river – the Niger river – I was born in the central delta on the banks of this river.  I was 5 years old when my grandma warned me of swimming in this river b/c it was turbulent and deep.  She said a city of water spirits lived down in the depths. 

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Read More »

Activism Around the City

Here is a visual diary of things going on around Copenhagen yesterday (12/15) outside COP15:

Klimaforum 09 Welcome Sign

See more pictures here: Read More »

CMP Plenary: Report from the AWG for KP Track on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

Breaking News:

Meeting opens over 30 minutes late due to heightened security.  Brazil and India delegates upset about security, and both had difficulty getting into the plenary.  After several delegate statements, including a renewed call for action from Tuvalu, COP15 President Connie Hedegaard resigns.  Danish Prime Minister (PM) Lars Løkke Rasmussen is now also the COP15 President, and Hedegaard will be his special assistant regarding informal consultations.

Now waiting for high-level segment including statements from Heads of State…More to come!

For a flavor of the current discussion:

Rasmussen: “The whole world is seeking a solution to climate change, and not just procedure, procedure, procedure.”

China: “Not just procedure, but substance…not here to obstruct the process.”

As you can see, it is getting tense here.

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.  Read More »

Adaptation: Not Just for the Developing World

Florida with 2-Meter Sea Level Rise

Since a large portion of the negotiations at COP15 have been about the financing of adaptation projects in the developing world, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that climate change is already posing a grave threat to coastal communities and ecosystems within the United States.  The areas most at risk within the lower 48 states include the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Florida, and the Gulf Coast, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Oregon coast.  We’re talking about some of our most iconic American landscapes and population centers, such as Cape Cod, downtown Manhattan, and the Chesapeake Bay.  And, we’re not talking about the remote possibility of impacts far into the future.  We’re talking about dramatic impacts that are already occurring now and will continue to harm coastal communities and ecosystems in the years to come, even if we achieve an aggressive climate change agreement here in Copenhagen.  Hence, the U.S. government has recognized the need for adaptation programs within just about every federal agency. Read More »

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.  Read More »

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