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Copenhagen Closeups: They Want Us to LeadPrint

Clean Energy | December 8, 2009 | By Brian Beauchamp

COPENHAGEN-Today I’m busy connecting with the team from 350.org, who all know Traverse City by name and are so happy to finally meet someone from a city that they have been hearing about for over a year, thanks to the good work of so many people who helped put TC350 on the map.

A common theme I’ve heard since arriving is a call for the United States and other developed countries to lead the way in cutting carbon emissions.

Over the decades, the U.S. has added more greenhouse gas emissions to our atmosphere than any other country. Even though China now ranks as the world’s top daily carbon emitter, many people want to know when U.S. negotiators will grab the wheel and steer this huge gathering toward a binding climate agreement.

There’s a lot of hope on this second summit day that the message about U.S. leadership is getting through, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what the outcome will be.

Among the throngs of people in Copenhagen right now are many from developing nations who are doing a lot of guessing about that.

Ben Vickers, a senior program officer from a Bangkok organization called the Center for People and Forests summed it up: “It’s really up to all of the delegates from both the developed and under-developed countries to work together. There’s a strong message coming form the nations in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the world.  What we’re here to find out is how they react to the information and how they use it.”

“Even though these civil societies of developing nations are not high up in the inner sanctum of the discussions,” he added, “their views are reflected and taken into consideration. But that does not necessarily mean they will be reflected in the final agreement.”

Meanwhile, the hope that Barack Obama’s presence for the summit’s last day will be just what it takes to strike a deal cannot be overstated.

There is so much going on here, so much to see and do, so many people all working together from every culture imaginable-it’s tough to conceive of anything other than a positive outcome from this monumental convening.

Brian Beachamp is a policy specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute, and coordinates MLUI’s work with TC350.org. Reach him at Brian@mlui.org.