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Update from Copenhagen

A few weeks ago, I wrote this story, about a Bates student attending the Copenhagen climate conference that's going on right now. Here's his email update, from the global warming front lines:

Hello from day 3 of COP15 in Copenhagen!  

Things are getting off to an absolutely crazy start.  This will be only a quick update for you as  I'm currently sitting in a conference room about to be briefed by EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, who will be talking the CO2 endangerment finding that came out a few days ago. Now,  CO2 emissions will be regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act... about time they did that, eh?

Anyway, I thought I would paint a quick picture of what this conference has looked like thus far.  I spend from about 7AM-10PM each day in the Bella Centre, which is where the conference is being held.  There are about 25,000 people here on a daily basis, ranging from members of delegations, to NGOs, to the UN Secretariat.  It's an absolute madhouse. 

The first two days of the conference were mostly dominated by the laying of the land in the plenary sessions.  Today, Wednesday, is the first official day of negotiations, but that does not mean that secret negotiations have not already been happening.  Rumors are constantly swirling in the conference center, it's actually kind of entertaining to see what the press picks up on. For example, yesterday, a Danish draft text was leaked, which infuriated developing nations as it showed that the Danes were holding closed door meetings without any consultation of developing nations.  I just now received word that due to contention between Saudi Arabia and Tuvalu in the AWG-LCA (Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action) the conference has been suspended until later in the afternoon. Basically, anything can change in a matter of seconds. 

A few highlights/updates:
-We sat in on an NGO meeting with the US chief US negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, as well as Lisa Jackson.  More on that exciting meeting here.
-Had a wonderful discussion with the negotiators from Malaysia after I sat in their seats. Whoops.
-I've been hanging out daily with youth from around the world, it's been incredible to gain a perspective on climate change from the point of youth that live in developing countries.
-The Youth constituency at the conference has officially been recognized by the UN Secretariat under the title YOUNGO.  This essentially means we are a recognized group within the UN structure. Very huge!
-Everyone, including the Secretariat and chief negotiators cannot get enough of the youth presence at COP15.  There are 2,000 of us here with official accreditation, which is completely unprecedented.

Not sure what kind of press is making it back to you all about what is actually happening here, but if you have any questions at all about any details of the negotiations or just want to chat, feel free to email me back. And as always, live updates from the conference can be found on my blog, www.sscinternational.org and on my twitter feeds, www.twitter.com/bobbyhertz AND www.twitter.com/ssc_intl

One last note, there was some interesting news out of the Center for Biological Diversity yesterday that Obama can make a binding commitment for emissions reductions without approval from Congress, so anything could happen.  

Keep your eyes and ears open, this is going to be a wild ride.
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