Day 10-- Copenhagen Blog: Flames of Hope

In the streets, cafes and restaurants of Copenhagen candles are lit everywhere.

It is truly one of the things that distinguish this city from others. You can enter a sporting goods store and a candle is there to greet you at the entrance. 

Today is the last blog I will be writing from Copenhagen. As such I am reflecting on the last week and a half and all that I have seen, heard and experienced. I, like a good part of the world, am eager to see what will ultimately emerge out of this global gathering.  With two and half days remaining now is when the ministers and heads of state swoop in to conduct the final negotiations and quite possibly sign their name to a document that could change the course of history. 

…. I went walking the streets early today to get a sense of the energy here.  Now officially banned from the Bella Center I am relying on the TV, Internet, word on the street and word from my colleagues to hear what’s really happening. Protests are in full swing, security is in force, rumors continue to circulate and every few hours another world leader arrives.  Should I feel hope? Anger? Failure?  I see a man sculpting an image of Obama in ice with the words “yes we can”. I see signs of protest. And I see those candles in every other storefront. In my reflection and struggle to determine how I would write my final blog it hit me. Kind of corny but in the context of Copenhagen those candles represent hope. It is truly a choice to look ahead with hope rather than with despair. Personally, and with a bit of an internal fight, I feel I have no choice but to forge on with hope. I’ve been moved many times over the last 10 days – in particular by the activists who have gathered here with no security detail, no entourage, no fanfare -  who at home in most cases toil away in obscurity fighting to save our planet. 

In my reflection I am also reminded of something my very wise and insightful boss Terry Tamminen has been saying for months: The real work will start on December 19th. The day after the talks close. This will be when, regardless of whether we get a strong agreement or not, the world will have to move forward. It’s at the point that both collectively and individually we decide whether we will keep the flame of hope alive.  

I will not soon forget this experience, which truly is one of a lifetime. I have felt many emotions while here – I won’t lie – the negative feelings have slightly outweighed the positive (I thank God for my colleague and friend Sasha Abelson who has provided me with nothing but the positive!). However, as I prepare to leave I will let the many candles that light the windows and storefronts of Copenhagen remind me that even in the bitter cold of winter, a flame of hope will endure.  Cliché I know, but a fitting image to hold in memory.