Next week marks a crucial moment in history as the United Nations COP15 Climate Change Conference kicks off in Copenhagen! This monumental event will convene 20,000 official delegates from 192 countries who are banding together to acknowledge and solve the earth-threatening environmental issues we’ve been facing. The conference marks a milestone in climate change history, so if you’re not familiar with all the issues being discussed and the global changes we need to make to ensure a sustainable future, read on for our green guide to COP15!

Studio-Lindfors-Flooded-Cities-5th-and-35th Flooded 5th Avenue in NYC by Studio Lindfors

The earth’s temperature has risen by 0.74 degrees Celsius in the last 100 years.

An increase of increase of just 2 degrees Celsius more will lead to massive loss of species, 100 million climate refugees, and other major stresses.

We need to set strict emissions restrictions by 2012 in order to avert a worldwide climate catastrophe

1. What’s at Stake

The effects of climate change include more droughts and flooding, rising sea levels, a lack of drinking water, and more extreme weather incidents like heatwaves, heavy rainfall and severe storms. We’re already seeing these consequences manifest themselves and cause the loss of homes, destruction of property, an imbalance in ecosystems, and in many many cases, death.

2. What do we need to do to mitigate climate change and by when?

World leaders agree that meeting strong targets (cutting emissions, reaching cap and trade agreements, going carbon neutral) by 2050 is our best shot at ensuring a sustainable future.

3. What is COP15?

The name “COP15” actually has nothing to do with Copenhagen. It stands for Conference of the Parties. The goal of COP15 was originally to establish a binding global climate treaty to go into effect in 2012 when the Kyoto treaty expires. As the name implies, there have been 14 similar conferences before this one (yes, you would think that there would have been more progress made by now!)


4. What we can expect

Last month world leaders (including President Obama) deemed a binding global climate treaty too ambitious and instead decided to focus on coming to a less specific agreement. A binding agreement isn’t off the table forever — it will likely be discussed at a later summit in Mexico City.

Even though we know we won’t be reaching an all-encompassing treaty at COP15, the conference will be instrumental in making sure that the green tech and green building sectors continue to grow. That’s because international treaties and agreements will inspire confidence in private investors, who will in turn be more likely to give money to these burgeoning industries.


5. What COP15 means for building and technology

We’re hoping to see emissions targets and cap-and-trade agreements to be reached that would force companies to cut down on carbon emissions and adopt more energy-efficient buildings and technology. Many leaders are also looking to the summit to see how developed nations like the U.S. can help subsidize pricey green technologies for less developed countries.

6. What other topics will be discussed?

The conference will open the floor to conversation about the REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) program, which will potentially give countries emissions credits for stopping deforestation – an aspect of climate change that is often overshadowed by emissions talks, but is just as important.

7. Get Involved!

You can take part in COP15 without having to dish out airfare! Sign your name on the Hopenhagen petition here showing your support. Your signature, along with thousands of others, will be presented to world leaders in Copenhagen in just a few days!

cop15, copenhagen, climate change, co2

8. COP15 talks the talk, but it walks the walk too

The official pdf brochure offers tips to attendees on how to make their experience at the conference as green as possible — from where to find clean tap water to how to use the advanced teleconferencing system instead of flying colleagues out to Denmark.

9. COP15 will be climate neutral

The Danish government will be offsetting emissions including travel to and from Copenhagen as well as local emissions during the conference in the spirit of the talks.


10. Other cool ways that Copenhagen is setting a green example:

COP15 is one of the first international political conferences to use LED spotlights and solar-powered luminaires at the Bella Center, where the conference is being held.

In June 2008, 12% of all hotel rooms in the Greater Copenhagen Area were eco-certified. Today, more than 53% are certified with a Green Key or Nordic Swan.
Most VIP-limousines commuting to and from the event will emit less CO² than average EU cars. Many will be powered by alternative fuels like II.G bioethanol produced from straw or hydrogen.

Delegates at the conference who’d like to experience Copenhagen’s favorite way to get around town will be able to rent official COP15 bikes from the summit center for free!

Ultimately, COP15 will lead to more questions than answers, but it should at least provide a framework for future discussions in Mexico City. Want to check out a live stream of the conference? Check back at OneClimate’s streaming website on December 7.

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