Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another exhilarating 24 hours

It has been another busy day at the Bella Center! Certainly the most challenging part is choosing which events to attend from the multitude of choices. The Center buzzed with activity today and seemed a bit busier as more delegates continue to arrive.

Today I heard talks from Secretary Salazar, the European Space Agency, and Conservation International. The European Space Agency, consisting of 18 member states, spoke about Essential Climate Variables (ECVs), 28 data collection variables used in climate modeling and prediction. There are efforts made to ensure data are collected consistently and following uniform standards across nations. In the same session, Jacqueline McClade, Executive Director of the European Environmental Agency, provided a well-articulated account of adaptations nations are already making, including Greenland, which is planning for “fundamental shifts in culture.” Ms. McClade pointed out that average temperatures have not fluctuated by more than 1C during the last 10,000 years, during which our civilization developed. She optimistically said that we are on the verge of redefining ourselves, which she said is one of the main points of the conference.

Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy convened a panel of experts on REDD+, which is discussed a lot. REDD+ is the program of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, essentially the program by which incentives are provided for tropical forest conservation. The details are being discussed and deliberated at the conference. Two pilot projects in Panama and Indonesia were featured in an attempt to provide first-hand accounts and lessons learned of the realities of administering and financing such a program, which will be a critical component of the global carbon management strategy.

Last evening I attended a mini film festival and reception provided in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of indigenous peoples already experiencing the effects of climate change. The films were short clips featuring projects and interviews in various areas of the world ranging from the arctic to the tropics. It was a moving experience. Both events took place at the National Museum, which also featured a wonderful exhibit on the rainforests of the world.

Copenhagen is a beautiful city and I find it quite easy to get around. I am sharing an apartment with several other alumni in Sluseholmen, a trendy redevelopment area master planned by Danish and Dutch architects. The apartment overlooks a canal, and the grocery store is but a block away, making it a very convenient home base.

Photo from the Welcoming Reception for NGOs at City Hall

Rainforest exhibit at the National Museum

US Ambassador to Denmark, Laurie S. Fulton, introduced Secretary SalazarUS Secretary for the Department of the Interior, Ken Salazar

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