Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 1 in Copenhagen

As we descended out of the clouds into Copenhagen airport, the bright yellow sail of a small boat in the harbor demanded End Climate Change Here!! A recently-erected 30 foot sculpture of three emaciated African women stands in a field across from the conference center, the figures’ large cloth headscarves being thrashed by the strong winds blowing off the Baltic. Coca-cola sponsored billboards proclaim "HopenHagen." There is a palpable sense of urgency and promise here as the delegates began assembling for the UN Climate change conference.

The long line we stood in to obtain our credentials was marked particularly by its youthfulness (many of the delegates appearing to be in their 20s and 30s) and broad international diversity. Among the many hundreds of non-governmental observers, press, and official ‘parties’ to the convention around us, I saw a young man in his traditional Sami (Lapp reindeer herding) clothing, several people from sub-Saharan Africa, an International Brotherhood Worker from the U.S.... conversations in most any language you can imagine were taking place. It brought home to me just how deeply the issue of climate change is resonating in all parts of the globe, and has so many implications for so many people. The presence of many young people makes clear that the generations now coming of age have a disproportionate stake in the decisions being made here, and they are out in force to ensure that policy makers recognize that it is they who will have to deal with the consequences of the choices made today.

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