In spite of the recent weeks of roller coaster-like expectations for a positive outcome from the COP15 climate conference that got underway yesterday, the sense of urgency is keenly felt here at the Bella Center, home of the climate negotiations and exhibitions for dozens of NGO’s and observer organizations.
The road to Copenhagen has been long and hard, but the moment is here and, as UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer said yesterday at the opening press conference, “time is up.” It is incumbent upon world leaders to seize the momentum that has coalesced at this place and in this moment.
Despite the continued recalcitrance and obfuscation from some in the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others with vested interests for business as usual, the sense of global public urgency is at an all-time high, according to a recent GlobeScan/BBC World Service poll.
Even resistance in the US isn’t predestined to halt progress in Copenhagen, or in the US (despite how much the forces of resistance are now trying – see the links above for more). Yesterday the EPA formalized its endangerment finding stating the greenhouse gases constitute a threat to human health and welfare. Also recently reported in SolveClimate is a working paper from the Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia School of Law that suggests a broader scope than generally assumed for a president to enter into international treaties. All this means that Obama needn’t come to Copenhagen next week with his hands tied.
So the process is begun. A colleague recently told me that history is rarely an even, linear process, but happens in fits and starts. The next two weeks will undoubtedly unless countless fits – and hopefully a good start to sustainability and climate change action.