Copenhagen, Day Eleven: Collisions Of Science And Politics

The Wonk Room is blogging and tweeting live from Copenhagen.

Security at Copenhagen’s Bella Center has ratcheted up, excluding nearly all civil society representatives. Negotiations to craft a concrete deal continue behind closed doors as rumors swirl like the new-fallen Yuletide snow, but it’s impossible to discern political brinkmanship from irreconcilable differences until the final moments.

The Overwhelming Science

Even as the Copenhagen conference nears its conclusion, the largest climate science conference — the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union — is taking place in San Francisco, where the National Snow and Ice Data Center is discussing the Arctic’s uncertain future.


A new paper published in Nature warns that “an additional 2 degrees of global warming could commit the planet to 6 to 9 meters (20 to 30 feet) of long-term sea level rise,” which would “permanently submerge New Orleans and other parts of southern Louisiana, much of southern Florida and other parts of the U.S. East Coast, much of Bangladesh, and most of the Netherlands.”

A leaked United Nations document confirms analyses by leading climate scientists, Climate Interactive and the Center for American Progress that the mitigation efforts proposed by major polluting states — while dramatically better than continued inaction — are not yet sufficient to avoid catastrophic climate change.

World Leaders Take The Podium

Here are a few of the top quotes from the today’s speeches by some of the 130 world leaders now streaming to Denmark’s capital:

Gordon Brown, United Kingdom Prime Minister: “In these few days in Copenhagen, which will be blessed or blamed for generations to come, we cannot permit the politics of narrow interest to prevent a policy for human survival.”

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia: “Our objective is to save humanity and not just half of humanity. We are here to save Mother Earth.”

Shimon Peres, Israel Prime Minister: “By 2020, the government of Israel intends to make best efforts to reduce its CO2 emissions by 20% compared to a business as usual scenario.”

Apisai Ielemia, Tuvalu Prime Minister: “We will leave this meeting with a bitter taste in our mouth. The true victims of climate change have not been heard here.”

Following the Sarah Palin playbook, the right-wing prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, has announced he will boycott the talks. The world is waiting for President Barack Obama and Premier Wenjiabao to speak tomorrow.

Congress In Copenhagen

The U.S. Congressional delegation held a press conference at the Bella Center today, saying that President Obama is “committed to making a difference.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “It’s about jobs. It’s about jobs that are sustainable for the future. New jobs, new technology, new green jobs for a green revolution to follow the industrial revolution of 100 years or longer ago, over 100 years ago the technological revolution of the last century and now this green revolution.” Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) urged the international community to seize the political opportunity to fight the “common problem” of global warming, noting that “it is rare in history that different countries agree to work together rather than work against each other.” Global Warming Chair Ed Markey (D-MA): “The planet is running a fever. There are no emergency rooms for planets. . . . We want to work with you, we want to partner with you because the alternative is unacceptable…Our goal is to work with the world to make it possible that children will have to look to history book to find if there ever was such a thing as global warming.”