Copenhagen Blog



The Panel, the Danish PM, and the CSD Paper.

[BlogCOP15uuuno Dec7 pm.doc] The first day (Dec 7) for me was mostly involved with trying to get our CSD (Committee for Sustainable Development NY, UN CoNGO) one-page climate paper into the hands of people on a panel meeting in the afternoon. That turned out to include the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen. Actually, I was trying to get hold of Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace, who was speaking on behalf of NGOs (the CSD paper has over 90 NGOs signed on, and I had originally hoped on that basis to present the paper). After many phone calls, the paper was finally transmitted to him.

The auditorium was well hidden in the Bella Center, and it was difficult to obtain entrance through the security guards because of the presence of the PM, but eventually I got there. 

Kumi Naidoo was there, I met him, and he told me that the content of the CSD paper was similar to his ideas.

The panel discussion included representatives from business (David Blood, partner of Al Gore: “Blood and Gore”), NGOs (Kumi Naidoo), youth (A. Mamoon from the Maldives), and science (Katherine Richardson, Copenhagen). The moderator was José María Figueres Olsen (former President of Costa Rica). See Wikipedia for backgrounds.

The best presentation was from the young Mamoon. He spoke passionately. 

Notable quote (D. Blood): “Sometimes it is not enough to do your best. You have to do what is necessary.”

After the panel finished, I made my way to the front through bodyguards and photographers, managed to get to PM Rasmussen, and gave him the paper, which he folded and put in his coat pocket.



The IPCC Event, the UU-UNO, and a Question

[BlogCOP15uuuno 8Dec09 IPCC.doc] The IPCC had a major event Dec. 8 to summarize work done since the 2007 AR4 reports (there is a LOT of new information), and to outline the upcoming AR5 reports.  There were several hundred people in the large (Niels Bohr) hall. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, moderated.

The session began with the obligatory hacked e-mails, wasting 30 minutes. These emails have no bearing whatever on anything substantive, but serve as a loud propaganda tool for the right wing contrarians, and are a distraction. A number of questions were posed, starting with Andy Revkin from the NYT. Pachauri handled it pretty well.

Presentations followed for each of the three AR5 reports.

Yours truly managed to get called on to ask a question. As background: a lot of confusion exists because of short-term variability due to natural causes (e.g. 1 – 10 years) and the longer-term global warming trends (e.g. 10 – 100 years), and I asked what the AR5 would cover. The scientific panelist Thomas Stocker said “Thank you for that question”, and explained the AR5 would devote 2 chapters to these issues.

For you UUs reading this, everyone in the hall heard the words: “Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office” when I introduced myself.


The session agenda is at:

The presentations are at:

Video of the session is also available there.


A few impressions at the Kongens Nytorv (KN) plaza in Copenhagen:

[JanBlogCOP15_CopenhagenCityDec13.doc] Bicycles: There are bike paths everywhere, including major roads. Old and young ride bikes. Few, however, wear helmets. 

The 100 Pictures climate exhibit at KN is very powerful. These pictures show beautiful sites that will be impacted by climate change. See:

Yesterday there was a huge march / demonstration starting at KN to the COP15 site at Bella Center. There is full coverage in the press.

The Opera House is at KN. Operas have supertitles in Danish.

The Strøget pedestrian street with zillions of shops ends here.


The Kilmaforum, the Bright Business Forum, and the CSD paper

[JanBlogCOP15_14Dec.doc] The Klimaforum is advertised as “The People’s Climate Summit”. They have a concurrent climate program with an activist tilt; the location is in a pretty large venue next to the main train station in Copenhagen. I went there to present the CSD paper at a panel discussion on Dec 13 (Sunday). Lynn handed out the paper and lent support.

The whole Klimaforum scene reminded me of when I was a grad student at Berkeley in the 60’s. Lots of students with backpacks. Babies. Vendors selling the worst sandwiches that I’ve had in a long time. But lots of enthusiasm!

The panel consisted of Barbara Adams, who wrote a book on climate justice and worked at the UN, a South African woman activist Glenda Loebell-Ryan, and yours truly. I got to go first, which was a good thing. Most of the rest of the session was completely dominated by the South African woman, who actually had a non-climate related agenda.

Afterwards, Lynn and I went to the “Bright” Business Forum, in another location (metro stop Forum). This was a night and day comparison with the Klimaforum in style, although similar in enthusiasm. There were many businesses exhibiting in booths showing great alternative energy work etc. When the Klimaforum students grow up, they will be at the future Bright Forum.

Steven Chu, head of the US Dept. of Energy, gave a talk at the Bright Forum, quoting impressive innovative work on renewable energy being supported by the DOE. This is a welcome relief after the disastrous Bush administration. Then R. Pachauri (head of the IPCC) spoke. Good stuff.

All this was enough climate for one Sunday.


Here is a general description of the COP15 and the Bella Center where it is located.

[JanBlogCOP15_Dec15.doc] Right outside is a huge wind turbine. Denmark may be dark in the winter so solar power doesn’t work, but Denmark has wind, wind, and wind.

The metro stops right at the Bella Center. The metro is automatic (no conductor in sight), is a short train, and there is an interval of only a few minutes between trains.

Outside the Center is a stalwart group of vegetarians with large signs. A few wacko contrarians are also out there. Really wacko.

Passing through a phalanx of friendly but firm Copenhagen police, showing your badge over and over, lands you in a long line waiting to go through security. You can bring in a water bottle; you just have to take a sip of it in front of the security personnel.

Inside are thousands of people, dozens of exhibits, many conference rooms, and hundreds of computers free for use of the participants. There are even printers, and they work.

I spent a good deal of time at the Holland Climate House, which had excellent presentations. The presenters are very available; I had a very informative discussion with one of Holland’s head climate modelers. They also consistently have food and wine, which definitely helps understand what’s going on.

The US Center has a huge techy globe that can project data as a movie to illustrate scientific findings. There were excellent presentations in a side room, including one by Lisa Jackson, head of the US EPA.

There was also a very interesting event involving college students in the US Center interacting live over the Internet with elementary school kids in the US, discussing climate. One kid said: “I think that if we don’t reach an agreement in this conference, global warming will get worse and we might not be able to stop it”. Out of the mouth of babes.

The youth have been very active at the conference.

Then there are the occasional demonstrations: people dressed as polar bears or as trees, for example. Yesterday I happened to walk past some people who, at a sharp signal, all put on blue raincoats and chanted in support of Africa.

For the second week for NGOs, only a fraction of participants are being admitted since there are thousands more people who want to get in than the 15,000 that the Bella Center can accommodate. You now have to wear not only your main badge, but also a “secondary” badge. On Monday before the restrictions the place was so crowded it was hard to walk. At the end of this week, very few NGO members will be admitted. Today Wed Dec 16 may be the last time I can get in.

However there are some interesting side events being held at a nearby hotel on climate finance topics hosted by IETA (International Emissions Trading Association). I went there last night.

There was also a very interesting scientific presentation at the IETA side event on calculating the average global temperature increase in 2100 given some specified emission reductions in 2050 or 2020 (which is what the politicians are negotiating).

Conclusion: the current reduction plans (committed or contingent) are NOT enough to prevent disaster in 2100.

I’ll go to the IETA events on Thursday if I can’t get into the Bella Center.

And there is always the Kilmaforum.


National Security and Climate Change – 

[JanBlogCOP15_Dec17.doc] presentation by Department of Defense / Navy / Marine Corps / Coast Guard

The US Center held a very important event yesterday on climate change and national security. A Navy admiral with a PhD in meteorology and head of the Navy Task Force on Climate Change was present. High-ranking military personnel were live by Internet from the Pentagon. All made short presentations. I took pictures of the slides, which will be available online at .

The military is now on board with mainstream science and current mainstream thinking on impacts and mitigation/adaptation. Global warming and climate change are recognized officially by top military as having broad security implications. This includes conflict and tension globally, which we need to “prevent and deter”. There have been previous reports, but this is the first time I have heard official military leaders on duty saying this. How refreshing after the dinosaur Bush period. Global warming is “irrefutable for the Navy” and the contrarians are misreading the trends. The DOD/Navy “do not wait for perfect knowledge”. Leadership can have positive “outsized effects”.

The Navy is looking at scenarios with 1 to 2 meters of sea level rise by 2100, and is engaged in planning an ambitious modeling effort with NAS/DOE to develop the capability to run scenarios from 0 hours to 30 years, with regional spatial and seasonal/decadal time-scale resolutions.

Energy conservation and renewable energies are “Good for the country”, and numerous examples were given in which the above military branches are engaged.

During the question period, I asked the admiral whether there would be more efforts for equipment for observations at sea level and also for mixing between different layers in the ocean, which is relevant for ocean-uptake of CO2. The answer was that there have been improvements such as floats and underwater gliders, and they are evaluating whether to put more in place. I introduced myself as I usually do when I asked a question at the conference as being from the UU-UNO and the Committee for Sustainable Development UN. The question was streamed live over the Internet.

Here are notable quoting directly from my photographs of the slides:

National Security Implications

Human consequences

* Crop degradation or failure

* Water scarcity increasing

* Hunger and disease

Challenges to governments

* Increasing inequality, resentment and potential radicalization

* Increasing stress within and between states

* Resource competition

* Increasing migration and social instability



Summary of COP15 action for the CSD paper [1].

[JanBlogCOP15_Dec18.doc] * Handed to important players from the US at COP15: Jonathan Pershing (climate negotiator, US delegation), Lisa Jackson (Administrator, EPA), and Gina McCarthy (Asst. Administrator, EPA)

* Handed to the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen

* Supported in communications from CoNGO after being presented at the CoNGO Board meeting in Vienna in November

* Sent to all permanent missions to the UN in NY

* Emailed to 2,000 NGOs worldwide

* Many copies distributed at COP15, including to some conference speakers

* Over 100 NGOs signed, some with large constituencies, faith-based and environmental

* Presented at a session at the Klimaforum (parallel climate events to COP15)

You can see the paper, to which many contributed and helped, and for which I was the editor, at:


Musings just before the end of the Conference, waiting for results like everyone else, in front of the TV:

[JanBlogCOP15_Dec18bis.doc] The COP15 climate negotiations have gone up and down. The big players are all here. The scientific information is known to all. The global warming trend of climate change irrefutably exists, and we are irrefutably causing it. We study the history of civilization on a scale of hundreds of years, but if business-as-usual continues, horrible future global warming impacts will probably occur in less than 100 years, and impacts are visible already. There will be no safe haven for anybody. The future of humanity on the planet is at stake.

The next few hours will tell if the will exists for a politically significant accord that can lead to a legally binding treaty.

The U.S. contrarians have played an especially destructive role by obstructing a robust climate bill through pseudo-scientific deceit and right-wing media propaganda, thus limiting U.S. action here. If the negotiations fail, these characters will bear a large responsibility and will be judged very harshly by history.

There are no quick fixes, the potential drug of geo-engineering notwithstanding. The technology for mitigation and adaptation exists, will get better, and some positive efforts are being made now, e.g. by cities. If there is no accord, we will need to keep going anyway.

I pledge personally to continue to do my best to make the world livable for my grandson and all children by fighting global warming.


Yes! Agreement! We did not solve the problem of global warming, but we did take a big step. All we could have hoped under the circumstances.

[JanBlogCOP15_Dec19.doc] The framing of the last-minute brokered agreement between the U.S., China, India and others last night, aims to limit global warming to 2 degrees C (that’s 3.6 degrees F). Even agreeing to the concept is a huge accomplishment. 

But what does it really mean?

From the scientific point of view, an a-priori guarantee of a temperature increase limit, due to the global-warming trend of climate change, does not exist. Model results – which depend on what humanity does - are expressed as probabilities of limitation.

From the political point of view, nothing more could have been accomplished at COP15. The cumulative emissions so far are dominated by developed countries (the point that developing countries make), current emissions have China as the front running polluter (the point that developed countries make), and future emissions of developing countries with increasing per-capita emissions will pass those of developed countries (a point few make).

From the social-justice ethical point of view, the glass is half full or half empty. Long term financing aid from developed countries (that “caused the problem”) to developing countries (that will suffer most and “did little to cause the problem”) is present: $100B/yr by 2020. While this is probably not “enough”, it is not zero either. Terms should be specified: while Africa undoubtedly qualifies for such aid, China should not qualify.

From the national security point of view, the agreement with long-term aid is in the interest of developed countries, in order to at least ameliorate potential vicious military conflicts over food and water shortages due to global warming (widespread crop failures and melted glacial water sources).

From the finance / economic risk-management point of view, the agreement is a minimal investment to prevent potential future collapse. Global finance is an inherently fragile international system that exhibited manifest collective instability in the recent meltdown, and which could be strained to an unrecoverable breaking point by severe global warming impacts.

From the negotiation point of view, other countries should approve this agreement (it’s the only game in town, and opposition will lead to nothing). The agreement should be turned into a legally binding treaty. However, action should not wait for a legal climate agreement (which could take years). There should also be follow-on agreements in the years to come as the impacts of global warming become more severe.

From the action point of view, individuals, corporations, cities, states, and nations should augment substantially what they are doing now in terms of mitigation and adaptation, consistent with economic goals. This is of course the really hard part. We are all interconnected by global warming, whether we like it or not.

Again from the action point of view, we need to resist the tempting but dangerous “drug” of solar-radiation-management geo-engineering for a quick fix to replace mitigation but that solves nothing (and will cause “withdrawal symptoms” of unchecked global warming if we stop “taking the drug”).

From the science education point of view, contrarian pseudo-science and its use by right-wing propaganda media should no longer be ignored. Scientists need to come out of the lab and counter this frontal attack on the very nature of science.

From the impacts point of view, an increase of even 2 degrees C may be too much for long-term sustainability. If so, the globe already has too much greenhouse gas. If so, not only will we have to go big time to alternative energy (a point everybody makes), eventually we will also probably have to get rid of excess greenhouse gas by some sort of sequestration (a point few make). 

From the generational equity point of view, if humanity substantially delivers on the above, we will be able to look our grandchildren in the eye and say we did our best under the circumstances.

If we do not deliver, not only developing countries but also developed countries will be hit hard, very hard. There is no safe haven.


[1] The paper is “Summary and Recommendations to Governments” by the UN NGO Committee for Sustainable Development NY (CoNGO). CoNGO is the Conference of NGOs in consultative relationship with the UN.


Note: This blog was unfortunately erased due to a system glitch. It was reconstructed from backups.

Last edit 3Nov2017

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