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Former Air Pollution Chief Off to Copenhagen

The next round of major climate treaty negotiations kicks off today in Copenhagen, Denmark, with more than 100 world leaders slated to attend, including President Barack Obama.  Louisville’s former Air Pollution Control District Director Art Williams will also be in attendance, as part of the Sierra Club’s national delegation.  Williams says the focus will be not only on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also on renewable energy.  In that regard, he says Kentucky’s economy has much at stake.

“The outcomes in Copenhagen and after that will probably make coal additionally more expensive as we price carbon in the energy system to encourage other types of energy use,” says Williams.

As a Sierra Club delegate, Williams will participate not only in formal United Nations meetings but also so-called “side sessions,” where delegates present ideas and discuss solutions in more informal setting.

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Big Climate Meetings Before End of '09

This week, they’re meeting in Geneva, Switzerland for the World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3). The administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jane Lubchenko, heads the U.S. delegation. At the conference, she and the other delegates will be learning more about how best to share climate information with those who need it to make decisions.

The overall goal of the conference – the third of its kind in 30 years – is to work toward developing a global “climate services information system,” bringing together the various climate modeling and prediction efforts worldwide into a single source for climate information, to help policy and decision makers act on that knowledge. In other words, this conference is about managing the risks we know are already here from climate change.

In December, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 15th meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That’s where it’s hoped they’ll come up with a post-Kyoto treaty agreement on a global strategy to mitigate climate change going forward. There have been several negotiation sessions in the run-up to the conference, including in Bonn, Germany this past August. At stake is the extent to which countries agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help developing countries do the same, and participate in the development of strategies and technologies for adapting to climate change.

But it’s not looking good, according to the UNFCCC web site’s account of the closing day at Bonn:

“Briefing the media on the last day of the informal consultations in Bonn, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said that while selective progress had been made to consolidate the huge texts on the table, ‘at this rate, we will not make it.’…Mr. de Boer stressed that ‘a climate deal in Copenhagen this year is an unequivocal requirement to stop climate change from slipping out of control.’”