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Countdown to Copenhagen

05 August 2009

by Bill Bowder

THE COUNTDOWN to the $US62-million global-warming conference in Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December, where about 11,000 participants are expected, with thousands more coming to the Danish capital, is marked by apathy among young Europeans, a Europe-wide survey suggests.

In the survey European Attitudes Towards Climate Change, only half the respondents aged 15 to 24 had taken any action to fight climate change — the lowest percentage in any age-group. Among all ages, just over half said that they would alter their purchasing habits because of the environment, the

Euro­pean Commission, which released the survey, said. Nevertheless, 67 per cent said that global warming was “a very serious problem”.

UN leaders have said that there is still “a lot to do” before Copenhagen. The UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has said that proposed cuts in CO2 emissions by G8 are “welcome, but not sufficient”.

The UN has introduced an electronic clock to count down the seconds until the meeting opens on 7 December. The clock was to re­mind negotiators that “time is of the essence”, the UN said. It can be downloaded from the UN website, http://unfccc.int/home/items/4688. There were now only a few weeks left to get the negotiations right on how to limit global warming to between 2 and 2.4ºC.

Next Monday’s meeting in Bonn would continue the work on the negotiating text agreed in June. That would be followed by meetings in September of heads of state in New York, Pittsburgh, and Bangkok; a meeting in Brussels in October; and a final one in Barcelona in November, before the leaders gather to agree, “an ambitious and effective international climate change deal”.

Christian Aid is part of a “Countdown to Copenhagen” campaign, launched last year by APRODEV, an association of 17 development and humanitarian aid organisations in Europe that work with the World Council of Churches.

The campaign was intended to create “a mass movement that demands our leaders help deliver a fair and effective deal at Copen­hagen”. But this week its Copenhagen Pledge scheme had secured only 47,000 names throughout Europe. Last week it appealed for sponsored cyclists who would ride from London to Copenhagen.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has provided worship material for next month’s Creation Time 2009, which runs from 1 September to 4 October. Christian Ecology Link proposes a day of prayer on 4 October (the feast of St Francis of Assisi).

350.org has called for an international day of climate action on 24 October, based on the need to return carbon-dioxide levels to 350 parts-per-million. It asks for church bells to ring out 350 times on that date (www.350.org).

The Archbishop of Canterbury is preach­ing at an ecumenical service on climate change at Central Hall, Westminster, on 5 December, and at Copenhagen Cathedral on 13 December.

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