The opening ceremony for the Copenhagen climate talks just kicked off with a video of a child’s nightmare of global destruction, followed by a Danish girls choir. Solving climate change for the next generation is clearly a big theme throughout the event. The intro music was followed by a series of speakers that took the stage, including, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, Ritt Bjerregård, Mayor of Copenhagen, Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief.
Pachauri addressed the issue of the leaked climate emails, noting that the breach showed how far some would go to try to discredit the climate work. But Pachauri said that the various, independent organizations that have tracked climate data from numerous sources (atmosphere, oceans, temperatures, land and ice levels) shows how the data still stands. Here’s notes from the speakers:
First up, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark: Welcome to Denmark, welcome to Copenhagen. Global warming knows no borders. It does not discriminate. It affects us all. We are here because we are all committed to take action. Climate change is higher on the agenda than ever. The grim projections from science grow more alarming each day. It is our mission to come to the aid of those that already suffer and deliver a long term solution. This is our task. This is why we need a strong and ambitious agreement here in Copenhagen. The magnitude of the task is only matched by our commitment.
We need all the technical skills and entrepreneurship for this task. As I speak to you this morning 110 heads of state and governments have announced they will be coming to conference next week. Their presence is an unprecedented commitment to fighting global warming. Your leaders don’t just come to talk, but to act. To agree to an effective deal based on our fundamental principles. We must unlock the potential for low carbon prosperity. But to reach potential our citizens must make it happen.
While you’re here in Copenhagen, I hope you will also find inspiration around. We can change and we have to change. We have no bottled water, only tap drinking water. We’ve tried as hard as possible to limit the carbon footprint of the conference. We have chosen to cut back on gifts and instead invest in 11 scholarships (nice, I hate all those conference tchotckes). The world is depositing hope with you for a short while in the history of mankind. For the next two weeks Copenhagen will be Hopenhagen. Be vigilant in your efforts to reach agreement and show regard for restraints of other negotiators. You must also be courageous and visionary. Welcome to Copenhagen.
Ritt Bjerregård, Mayor of Copenhagen: Welcome. I look forward to host you and to show you how the city hall square will deliver Hopenhagen. There is a long journey ahead before a strong result in Copenhagen. Next week mayors from more than 70 of the biggest and important cities will come here and stand side by side with you in the fight against climate change. Cities are 50 percent of world’s population and the world’s largest economies — we are part of the problem but also part of the solution. In Copenhagen we have a goal of being the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. We have 50 specific initiatives of 20 percent reduction of CO2 emissions between 2005 and 2015. We are on our way. Ninety percent of households have district heating. Almost 50 percent of residents ride bike every day. Please help us turn Copenhagen into Hopenhagen, please seal the deal.
Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Chair, IPCC: Beginning of historic meeting. This conference must lead to action. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal (quote). The global community has a moral and material responsibility of limiting the growing impact on vulnerable societies across the globe. Lists effects of global warming: loss of sea ice, water resource losses, extreme rainfall and hot weather extremes, rise in temperatures, rise in sea levels, effects on Greenland and more acidic oceans. Societies must adapt. There are technologies now available with lower cost. This conference must put in place measures for financing projects in some of the most vulnerable places in the world. Also action in the developed countries, which must take the lead in adapting to climate change.
Temperature must be limited to between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius. Carbon emissions must peak by just six years from now. Some question that limitation ceiling.
We can learn from our host country Denmark. Look at wind industry — modern Danish wind turbines can make 100 percent more power than ones made in 1980’s. German and Denmark industries can show that employment will be created. The world has benefited from tech that is state of art and the country has also benefited from this sector.
This recent incident of stealing emails shows that some go to the extent of breaking the law to try to discredit this work. The panel has a long record and the findings are based on measurements made by many independent organizations worldwide, and based on findings from land, the atmosphere, the oceans and ice levels on the earth. The consistency supports the work of the climate community, including the work singled out in these emails. We give you our assurances of our duty and the trust you have bestowed on us.
Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary: Starts his talk by quoting the words of a young boy after suffering at the hands of a cyclone. Ladies and gentlemen its repetitions of this that we’re looking to avoid. Welcome to Copenhagen.
Copenhagen will only be successful if delivers immediate action the day this conference ends. Focus on a practical proposal that looks at mitigation, adaptation, finance, REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), and technology. The time for formal statements is over and the time for restating known positions is past. I urge you to build on your prior achievements. Deliver. Reach for success.