Highlights from Opening Day at COP15

Exped CopToday’s opening session of COP15 kicked off with speeches from top world leaders, including UN Seretariet Ivo de Boer, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Dr. Rajendra Pachauri and new COP15 President Connie Hedegaard.

I really enjoyed what these three individuals had to say. All three spoke about the need to end these negotiations by passing meaningful emissions reduction targets and a just treaty. They stressed that we have had the past two years since COP13 in Bali to draft a new treaty that either replaces or strengthens the Kyoto Protocol. They also emphasized that the time to act is NOW.

Pachauri highlighted what we all were hoping for – the need to reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2 from 387ppm (parts per million) to 350ppm. this fall Expedition Copenhagen delegates planned events for the 350.org International Day of Climate Action helping to spread the message of 350. Scientists from around the world we are beginning to support this initiative, including Pachauri and NASA scientists Dr. James Hansen. But the IPCC has not released a full report since 2007 putting Pachauri in a unique position.

“As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) I cannot take a position because we do not make recommendations,” Pachauri told AFP in an interview.

“But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target,” he added.

Ivo de Boer began his speech with a story about a young boy who experienced a massive monsoon in his community losing his mother, father and younger brother. In it he stressed the importance to take bold actions so that we can avoid more repetitive events in the future. And he ended reminding everyone that children are our future. This video gives some great highlights of the first day at COP15.

COP15 President Connie Hedegaard – a tough and demanding Danish politician and public intellectual, gave the last speech of the opening ceremony. Again, the message was that we must make decisions as Copenhagen that leade to a treaty next Friday.

“Let’s get it done. And let’s get it done now,” said Hedegaard. I agree.

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