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Making sense of COP15


Preparations for the conference are underway in Copenhagen
(© Claus Starup / Bella Center A/S)

THERE is already a flurry of heated debate and innovative awareness campaigns in the run-up to the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference, which will be held in December 2009 in Denmark. Expect more as government officials, scientists, civil society organisations and the media converge in Copenhagen for what is expected to be the most important climate change event in recent years.

But how do we make sense of the different views and official positions that will come out of this conference? In view of the gravity of the climate change challenge and the widespread global effect it has, civil society organisations and the media are organising themselves to provide rapid or meaningful responses to the conference discussions.

Many are using the online media to network and publish information and commentaries on what the conference discussions mean to society and the environment. And chances are, instead of actively searching for the relevant articles and videos being churned out, some of us will rely on subscribed and forwarded alerts via e-mail and social networks like Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop.

COP15

logo
(source: cop15.dk)

The Copenhagen conference is also known as COP15, as it will be the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Running from 7 to 18 Dec 2009, COP15 will include government representatives from 192 nations. Meanwhile, UN bodies and inter-governmental and civil society organisations can be accredited observers of the conference.

The government representatives are expected to negotiate a new protocol, which commits industrialised countries to meet certain emission goals. What makes this new treaty such a big deal is that it is supposed to determine how to improve the implementation of the goals of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol was the first binding international agreement which set greenhouse gas emission targets to address climate change. Under the Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialised nations were required to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5%, from 1990 levels, by 2012.

Many are not meeting the target, as governments of developed economies, the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, face pressure from industries and dispute the prescribed reduction targets and mechanisms. The “Copenhagen Protocol”, if one were to emerge in December 2009, would need to figure out how to overcome the hurdles that its predecessor faced.

Fresh Air Center

sprouting leaves
(© Liyana Y / Flickr)

TckTckTck, a global alliance of individuals and organisations calling for a fair, ambitious and binding climate change agreement, is roping in bloggers and campaigners to make sense of the conference discussions and decisions. It has set up a rapid response digital media hub in Copenhagen for these bloggers and digital campaigners.

“Our goal is to help civil society define the narratives coming from COP15, align our messages and actions to emerging strategic priorities, encourage sharing and collaboration, and break through the noise by connecting powerful NGO, blogger, and independent digital media channels together,” TckTckTck says on its website.

TckTckTck’s partners include civil society organisations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Oxfam and Amnesty International. Also part of the alliance are the World Council of Churches, the Global Campaign Against Poverty and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Bella
Bella Center being set up (© Claus Starup / Bella Center A/S)

The digital media facility, called the Fresh Air Center, comprises two spaces. One of them is the Bella Center, which provides the space and facilities for accredited bloggers, communications staff and digital campaigners to work. They can use it to correspond with their organisations, write about COP15 and conduct interviews in a dedicated space equipped with live streaming and video archive capabilities.

“We will manage daily briefings and bring in experts and other stories providing inside [information], and all content will be live-streamed to the larger, downtown space,” TckTckTck says.

While the Bella Center can accommodate about 35 people, the second space is a larger community centre in a building called “The Husset” (house) in downtown Copenhagen. The space, large enough for 120 to 200 people, has a hot desk section for bloggers and campaigners to write, publish, communicate and conduct private meetings. There is also a lounge area for them to network or just chill out. The Fresh Air Center aims to “align our messages and amplify them from COP15 to the world while also serving as a fun space where members of civil society can connect and relax,” TckTckTck says.

Climate Insider

With the limited space, bloggers and digital campaigners are required to sign up to be able to use the Fresh Air Center. They can also join the Climate Insider rapid response network, a private, by-application-only, e-mail list. The list aims to help the “insiders” collaborate, be alerted about new stories before they are officially made public, promote each other’s work, and support rapid response communications needs.

The “insiders” are generally digital or social media campaigners from climate change oriented organisations, bloggers and the news media. As at 24 Nov 2009, the list of participating digital campaigners includes the WWF, The World in Action, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Climate Action Network, IndyAct, Natural Resources Defense Council, 1Sky, UN Foundation, 350 and the David Suzuki Foundation. Among the participating bloggers are those from news and opinion sites like The Huffington Post, LeMonde, Daily Kos, GlobalVoices, The Uptake, Treehugger, OneWorld UK and On Earth.

It looks like there will be no shortage of information and commentaries on COP15, which is no surprise considering the gravity of the issue. The Nut Graph will also do its bit, through reporting by our contributor and former intern Gan Pei Ling. She will be participating in COP15 under the Malaysian Youth Climate Justice Network. favicon


Cindy Tham is getting updates from The GOOD Guide to COP15, TckTckTck and the Malaysian Youth Climate Justice Network on Facebook and Twitter.

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2 Responses to “Making sense of COP15”

  1. Cindy Tham says:

    My initial description of the new agreement coming out of COP15 is that it is supposed to “succeed” the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, to mean agreeing on the next and more effective steps to achieve the protocol’s underlying goals and commitments. However, I learnt that some governments and campaigners understand “succeed” to mean replacing the existing protocol, including its commitment levels and binding mechanisms, with a new and different deal.

    So, the word “succeed” can be misleading in this context. I’ve replaced it with “to determine how to improve the implementation of the goals of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol”.

    The Third World Network has more information on the complexity of the climate change negotiations here: http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/climate/barcelona.bp.021109.htm

  2. megabigBLUR says:

    I am really worried about COP15 and the pressure that governments will face from their industries, as well as from citizens who are “climate deniers” and think that global warming is a bunch of propaganda. You see it a lot in the USA, which is a huge country both geographically and in terms of weather. [The US will be] isolated from the worst effects (warming will actually be beneficial for their agriculture). It’s selfish and ignorant and I really hope and pray that the Obama administration will have the courage to stand up to that political pressure. On the other hand, tiny Pacific countries like the Maldives, and those that have been hit badly by floods and famine like China, are having no illusions that this is a problem that must be dealt with urgently.


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