Eco-Journey is the blog of the Environmental Ministries Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It will include a wide array of environmental topics: upcoming environmental events, links to interesting articles and studies, information on environmental advocacy, eco-theology topics, and success stories from churches that are going “green.”
About the author
Katie Holmes is the Associate for the Environmental Ministries Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). She enjoys working with congregations to tie faith to environmental justice. Prior to working for PC(USA), Katie worked with a nonprofit organization that helped local groups create watershed plans to restore and protect waterways in Kentucky.
On Tuesday, mayors and other local government officials from more than 80 cities worldwide called on the COP 15 at the Climate Summit for Mayors at the Copenhagen City Hall to consider cities in any future agreement on climate change.
Among the speakers were Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York (and we think we saw Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles on Danish TV). Cities account for more than half the world’s population and urban areas produce at least two-thirds of the world’s emissions.
Bloomberg talked about New York City’s effort on renovating existing buildings to make them more energy efficient as one contribution to cutting CO2 emission levels 30% by 2030. The mayors emphasized that local governments can implement changes immediately and effectively in transport, infrastructure and waste management. The mayors passed on their message in the form of a Climate Catalogue which documented 3,200 targets set by 2,800 cities to reduce greenhouse gases. According to The COP15 Post:
“But probably the most poignant message of the opening day came from Dar es Salaam mayor Adam Kimbasi who urged cities and nations to stop the climate injustice plaguing his city and other like it. According to Kimbasi, many developing world cities are being flooded with climate refugees that they cannot accommodate: ‘The young unemployed become a breeding ground for violence and extremism. Someone, somewhere, has to do something. We can’t just stand by and only listen,’ he implored.”
Of additional interest on this post:
A related December 17, 2009 article in The COP 15 Post concerns how “Mayors Say Private Money is the Answer,” where California’s governor spoke yesterday (among other speakers). On December 15 and 16, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke at the Bella Center and at the Climate Summit for Mayors at City Hall. He talked about local government efforts (state, province and city) and emphasized that officials can act on their own even without a climate agreement (something they should be doing). He also praised Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for the city’s effort to replace 5,100 old diesel trucks which has reduced truck emissions for this part of the city’s fleet by 70 percent. Concerning individual efforts, the Governor said, “You’ve got to make to whole thing hip for them to fight climate change.”
Bill McKibben adds a dose of reality: You heard us talk in yesterday’s post about Bill not being able to get into the COP15 at the Bella Center. Bill McKibben, of 350.org writes in yesterday’s The COP15 Post about “Inside the Bella Center Bubble.”
U.S. Ramps Up Its Effort; Will It Be Enough?
U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, arrived last evening and was at the Bella Center today for a press conference to announce a developed country proposal to raise $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change (the EU and Japan are already committed to contributing, but Clinton said that the U.S. contributions are contingent on reaching “a substantive political accord that would include ‘transparency’ in tracking emission cuts by major developing countries.”). To catch Clinton’s archive press conference, please go to the UNFCCC website video file.
Whether this will be enough to break the deadlock on other issues is the subject of much speculation. $100 billion sounds like a big number, and it is. Yet it is less than the estimated need for aid to the developing countries. Some commentators are openly identifying it as a negotiation ploy to put pressure on China by driving a wedge between the developing countries desperate for help, and their faster growing partner. Add to that the absence of a U.S. commitment to a strong reduction target, and you get even more skepticism. Nevertheless, prominent U.S. environmental organizations are praising the announcement in hopes that it will create some further movement.
Another announcement has come saying that U.S. President Barack Obama may not be coming to the COP15 in Copenhagen tomorrow. Secretary Hillary Clinton was somewhat evasive at her press conference. When asked, she only responded that he was still planning to come.
Monday, December 14: Twenty percent. Our specially appointed delegate has gone to the Bella Center to the specially appointed place, to pick up the specially prepared sealed envelope with the specially prepared second passes. Twenty-one: that is the number of WCC delegation members who will be allowed in the Bella Center.
We think that Monday may be our last day in the Bella Center and attending events, so we want to make the most of it. We prepare our plan: At 11:00, the WCC event with CARITAS International, “Faith-based Approaches to Climate Justice,” (this is our WCC delegation’s event, so we will be there). There is an update at the U.S. Center where Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, will announce a new initiative to promote clean energy technologies to help developing countries. At 3:00, 350.org is sponsoring “Faith and Climate Change from a Youth Perspective.” International CAN and US CAN (both very important for sharing intelligence on who-knows-what-from-what-official-delegation-member), Fossil of the Day award at 6:00pm, church delegation meeting. We will try to get to as many events today as we can.
There are two ways to the Bella Center, either by special COP 15 bus (which stops right outside our hotel), or by metro, which is a ten-minute walk at the Copenhagen Central train station.
As we prepare to leave the hotel, buzz, buzz, buzz, there is an email flash announcing that the police have closed the Copenhagen metro station at the Bella Center. No one can arrive or depart from that station. Too bad for folks that need to travel by this method (we will find later in the day that this has not deterred people, many of whom go to the next station and walk the ¾ mile back to the Bella Center). This is OK for us since the special bus is our best transportation.
10:45am: We arrive at the Center ½ hour later and to find the registration line is now over 600 people and several hours long (about half snaking their way from the bus stop, and the other half from the metro station). Too bad for them; lucky for us. Our digital passes receive their first check, and we go right through the doors and into the security check. Since virtually all lines are open, we are through in five minutes.
Soon we are in the center and in our seats at our WCC side event. It is always good to arrive early. The event rooms usually contain 150-200 seats, and most events end up being standing-room-only.
NOON: At noon, and still in the meeting, buzz, buzz, there is another email flash announcing that the Bella Center has reached its 15,000 person capacity and has been closed by police. OOPs, too bad for all those people still waiting in line. Is this true? Is this a rumor?
2:00pm: It is 2:00pm, and we arrive at the International CAN meeting. Buzz, buzz, and another email flash. The UN Secretariat has released new information about building access, and there will be more restrictions and more special badges. By Friday, you will need at least three passes to get in (the two previously mentioned, and a third which will permit just 90 NGO members to enter). The first special badge for use on Tuesday and Wednesday will allow just 7,000 NGO people to attend. Another will be issued for Thursday, which will allow just 1,000 people to attend (1/7 of the delegations’ numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday). By Friday, this number is reduced to 90, approximately one percent of the registered NGO participants. OOPs.
I hear an intermittent buzz of Bill’s Blackberry, which goes off (accompanied by a flash of red light) every time an email comes in.
It has been like this for more than a week, long before we arrived in Copenhagen.
It is Friday, December 11, and we are preparing for a typical day at the Bella Center. We have arrived to get the Daily Program, Part Two, checked off the side-events that have made our list of finalists.
“Climate Justice from Copenhagen: Sharing the Global Effort Adequately and Equitably: with Christian Aid," definitely.
Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Laureate for her work with the Greenbelt Movement in Africa) talking about her work, on the list.
“An Integrated Science and Policy Approach for Real Impact, IIASA and TERI” by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis I think is a pass.
The emails keep coming in. The International CAN(the international environmental NGO umbrella group) is now at noon, not 2:00pm. (Tough luck for folks not on a Blackberry). The US CAN meeting will take place at 5:00pm in the Piet Hein room (our rooms are all named after famous Danes, and with each with a little biography lesson near the door—Karen Blixen, who under the pen name of Isak Dinesen wrote Out of Africa; Victor Borga, the famous comedic pianist who left Denmark just in front of the Nazis in 1940; Niels Bohr, Danish physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, an expert in quantum mechanics and atomic structure who was also a member of the Manhattan Project). For those like Piet Hein, we read the biography. (Danish scientist, mathematician, designer, inventor, writer, and poet, who joined the Danish Resistance in World War II and whose poems became anti-Nazi graffiti across Denmark*). An email announces the Sierra Club meeting at 6:00 in the same room.
Photos by the World Council of Churches Media Services
We started the day outside Copenhagen Rathouse at the Hopenhagen Live (the events to include all local people in the COP 15 program). Thousands gathered to see Archbishop Desmond Tutu receive Countdown to Copenhagen petitions and watch local bands.*
Bishop Tutu dancing with Outlandish at the rally.
Climate change effects are being felt most "by those who did not cause it, the poor and the vulnerable", Tutu said, speaking before a crowd at Copenhagen's City Hall Square. This is the "injustice of climate change," that poor countries are the ones "that have to pay for something they didn’t cause."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu addresses rally when presenting over 500,000 signatures for the Countdown to Copenhagen pledge.
We then walked to The Copenhagen Lutheran Cathedral, The Church of Our Lady, where the Ecumenical Celebration for Creation took place (See the order of worship). We all joined Danes in standing for the Queen’s arrival, and listened to music before the ceremony began.
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark in the Processional.
By Bill Somplatsky-Jarman. Photos by Carol Somplatsky-Jarman.
On Saturday, the two of us headed for the Saxo Grammaticus Room at the Bella Center where four business leaders recounted their experiences in moving their companies toward sustainability, and more climate-friendly practices at a seminar (called Side Event in UN parlance). Sponsored by the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), the seminar featured Nike, The North Face, Sempra Energy and Johnson Controls.
All four companies, active in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, came to Copenhagen to lend their voices to the need for the U.S. to pass comprehensive energy and climate change legislation, and for the world to achieve an ambitious, post-2012 international agreement.
Moderator Beth Daley, the Boston Globe’s environmental reporter, elicited amazing stories of current practices. Hannah Jones, Vice President for Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike, described significant reductions that have already been achieved simply by working on energy efficiency in the nearly 1,000 factories in 52 countries that produce Nike shoes and gear. Letitia Webster, Director of Corporate Sustainability and Strategic Marketing at The North Face, noted how valuable the process of developing a corporate sustainability report had been to the company. It helped identify their carbon footprint, and ways to measure and reduce emissions.
Candlelight Vigil (photo by Carl Ganter of USCAN) as part of the 40,000 strong march on December 12 for a climate change agreement. The faith-based contingent was sent off with a rallying cry from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Big interfaith service in the cathedral slated for Sunday afternoon.
Bill and Carol Somplatsky-Jarman are attending the United Nations Climate Change talks in Copenhagen with the World Council of Churches delegation and will be sending updates that will be posted on Eco-Journey and the Mission Crossroads website. Bill is the Coordinator of Social Witness Ministries at PC(USA) and Carol is the Associate for Mission Connections at PC(USA). Bill and Carol's first update is below:
Greetings from United Nations Climate Change talks (known as COP 15). We arrived yesterday, Thursday, December 10th, the fourth day of the event.
There are reportedly at least 30,000 people attending the COP 15, including 5,000 press representatives, the largest ever. As a UN event, it is a snapshot of the global human family. But this year, the huge increase in youth is the most noticeable difference.
The young people are trying to make their voices heard, visible in their orange T-shirts, with the question “How Old Will You Be In 2050?” on the front, and “Don’t ‘Bracket’ My Future” on the back. The question emphasizes that they have a shot at being around in 2050 when the goal of 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needs to be reached. The back points to the UN process where nations can put “brackets” around words in the negotiation documents to signal disagreement. Others are sporting green T-Shirts with “350.org” on them, referring to the parts per million level of carbon dioxide that scientists say will prevent human impacts on the atmosphere. FLASH: as we are finishing this up, hundreds of youth just froze in place on cue, most of them in the center of the atrium. The youth know that they will inherit the ecological legacy we will leave behind, and are getting their message out through smart use of new communication technologies.
Just as background: there are governmental delegates here to negotiate the issues, as well as representatives from many organizations affiliated with the United Nations. Over time, the NGO community has developed a series of acronyms with a similar sound for the constituent groups:
BINGOs: These are business and industry related groups, including Chambers of Commerce, companies, etc… RINGOs: Environmental and other research groups. TUNGOs: Trade union groups are also included among the NGO groups. ENGOs: Environmental NGOs, which include many groups whose names have become part of our environmental vocabulary, such as Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and the Sierra Club. CAN: Climate Action Network, a member of the ENGO group, which is a global umbrella organization bringing together environmental groups, including the church groups related to the World Council of Churches (these last two are us). LGMAs: Local government and municipal authorities.
And there is a new official group on the scene:
YOUNGOs: Youth non-governmental organizations providing more official status to the burgeoning presence of international youth.
Other groups are drawn together in informal ways, these include the indigenous groups, farmers (perhaps soon to be known as FINGOs), women and gender NGO’s, faith-based groups, etc…