I had to hunt around my hotel room this morning to find my badge for COP15.
Last week, this badge was a highly coveted piece of paper attached to a UNFCCC lanyard. This week the same badge is of no value without the "special ticket" now required to enter the Bella Center. Last week, I spotted delegates marching around town, chests puffed out, badge proudly displayed at all times. This week, those same delegates are slumped over hot chocolates at cafes all around Copenhagen, badges nowhere to be seen.
Thousands of delegates have literally been locked out of the Bella Center. These delegates, including myself, have traveled thousands of miles to be here and be part of this process and now have been left out in the cold. Today it was confirmed that in the midst of all of this, the President of COP15, Connie Hedegaard has resigned. There is little media coverage of any of these issues and no formal explanation by the UN, just mutterings around town by disgruntled delegates in restaurants and coffee houses. However, the delegates seem to have taken it all in stride and after regrouping and a warm beverage, continue to be productive. People are traveling through a light dusting of snow to attend side events all over the city.
In some ways this lock out has served as a valuable lesson. We cannot simply rely on the UN to come up with a deal on climate change. Rather, we must continue to address the issue at every level. As individuals we can turn off the lights, drive less and reduce consumption of meat to reduce emissions. At the local, state and regional levels, climate plans which include renewable portfolio standards and cap and trade programs are powerful mechanisms to reduce emissions.
So, on this chilly day in December, I have hung up my COP15 badge. But I have not given up hope. Despite confusion, frustration and assorted shenanigans at the UNFCCC, I believe that the momentum on climate change will continue regardless of what does, or does not happen on Friday, December 18th.