Strolling the streets of Copenhagen on Sunday, December 6th feels very similar to the last time I was in Copenhagen, some years ago.
Tourists and locals alike are hustling down the small, auto-free streets, doing Christmas shopping and sitting in cafes sipping lattes. However, despite the atmosphere of normalcy, this Sunday is quite unlike the last time I was here 6 years ago because this is the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Tomorrow, on December 7th, this charming Scandinavian town will host 15,000 delegates from 192 countries who are here to negotiate the next international agreement on climate change. But today, on Sunday, there is little indication of tomorrow’s events.
As I walk through the gray, cold streets, I wonder how everyone can be so calm, given the monumental task before us. There are posters here and there advertising an event at the Bella Center or a lecture with Al Gore but aside from that not too much emphasis on the conference which begins in 24 hours.
And then I see it, a life size polar bear carved out of a single block of ice and conspicuously yet slowly, melting drop by drop into a puddle beneath it. At first, the carving strikes me as somewhat of a cliché and I walk away. But I turn around and snap a photo of it because though it is a cliché, I have to admit, it perfectly summarizes the issue before us. In my head I wonder if the polar bear will last 11 days until closing ceremonies? Will it last a week? At the rate it is melting it is hard to tell.
And this brings me back to the events that begin tomorrow, will there be an agreement? Will it be enough? Where will we be in the next 6 years? In the next 60 years? Tomorrow world leaders, scientists and environmentalists from around the world have the opportunity to take action on this issue and come to a meaningful agreement on climate change. The time to act on climate change is now.