Monday, December 14, 2009

politicians talk, leaders act

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is in Copenhagen harbor with a sign reading "Politicians talk, leaders act." Many of the protesters this past weekend carried signs reading "blah blah blah." Today talks have broken down as developing countries walked out in protest of the lack of concessions made thusfar by developed ones.

If there is success by the end of the week, immense credit will be due to the president of COP15, Connie Hedegaard, but she probably won't get much attention outside of Copenhagen. She just completed a question-answer session with NGO representatives, and forcefully stated that she is not putting up with the political tactics that are currently plaguing the talks, calls to delay action to future meetings, or attempts by certain heads of state to pull a new kind of agreement out of the air at the last minute. She urged NGOs to keep up the pressure that is bringing more than 120 heads of state here later this week, pressure that she credits with bringing climate change to the forefront of political leaders' attention, despite all sorts of other pressing issues - as she said (paraphrasing) 'recessions, mid-term elections, wars in Afghanistan, whatever.... Now is the window of opportunity, this pressure can only lessen, it cannot increase from what we have here in Copenhagen'

She concluded by saying "It’s not just the climate at stake…it is the growth possibilities of the future, the sustainable possibilities of the future."

Hedegaard is on the side of action, and is well regarded by many - including less developed countries and NGOs - for her clear thinking, her forceful positions, and because she is on the right side of the issues in what has to be an excruciatingly pressure-filled role. She is smart, articulate, funny - and the unsung leader of these negotiations.

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