Over 100 world leaders, President Obama included, will converge in Copenhagen this week and next for the UN Climate Change Conference, but they are not the only ones flocking to the Danish capital. Thousands of young people from all over the world, 500+ from the United States alone, are pouring into the Bella Convention Center to make delegates take notice. They may come from every corner of the planet, but they all share the same message: Now is the time to fight climate change. Here are two awesome groups leading the charge. Expedition Copenhagen Will Steger, the renowned polar explorer, educator, activist, and National Geographic Explorer in Residence Emeritus, is among the conference attendees. With him is Expedition Copenhagen, a dozen of the Midwest’s most dedicated youth, intent on spreading the word about the impacts of climate change and elevating the status of youth voices around the world on this topic. As a Midwesterner myself, I am extremely proud of these young people and their dedication to the environment!
The United Nations Climate Change Conference is underway in Copenhagen. Over the course of the 12 day summit, participants from 192 countries representing governments, the business community, and civil society will attempt to agree on “an ambitious, global agreement that meets the challenge set by science,” although many officials doubt that a solid treaty will be achieved. Instead, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, outlined these four questions, and feels that if these questions are answered, a sufficient framework will be in place to solidify future plans:
1. How much are the industrialized countries willing to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases?
2. How much are major developing countries such as China and India willing to do to limit the growth of their emissions?
3. How is the help needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change going to be financed?
4. How is that money going to be managed?
Hammering out all the little details will be tricky, de Boer says, but if conference participants can agree on these points, he’ll be happy. So why do we care as geographers? This conference highlights environmental, political, and cultural issues… all topics that geographers study. The effect that this conference could have on climate legislation is clear, but just think about the logistics and cultural hurdles of getting representatives from every country in the UN together in one place to come to a solid agreement. A tricky game to play!