Live in Copenhagen: Turbines, Thousands and Tutu

This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | December 12, 2009 | Climate Change, Energy Policy, Wind

Today marks the end of Week One of the Copenhagen Climate Negotiations and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s first day on the ground.  Within minutes of landing, I saw dozens of clean energy and climate-related adverts and posters throughout the airport and on the metro elevating the issue and its importance for the thousands of people who transit through that airport each day, whether they are attending the conference, or not.

Even more exciting than photos of wind turbines was the chance to see one in action – helping to power the Bella Center where this conference is taking place.  Earlier this year a Vestas-built wind turbine began generating the Center’s power.  Within a year, this single turbine will produce approximately 1,600,000 kilowatt hours, which translates to enough power for approx. 300 average Danish households for an entire year.

As I was arriving and getting my bearings, thousands of citizens here in Copenhagen and millions around the world marched in climate rallies as part of an International Day of Climate Action. Between 25,000 and 100,000 citizens marched to demand that the delegates gathered here in Copenhagen seek a ‘real deal’ – a fair, ambitious and binding agreement to solve climate challenges.

Tens of thousands of people marched all the way to the Bella Center with signs, baby carriages and candles (photo at right taken by Carl Ganter, USCAN) and only a few dozen arrested, despite the media coverage that focused on that entirely.  The march ended at a candle-light vigil at Greenpeace’s Climate Rescue Center that featured none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu: South African cleric and activist who rose to worldwide fame in the 1980s as an outspoken critic of apartheid.  Tutu’s words were most inspiring:

They marched in Berlin, and the wall fell.  They marched in Cape Town, and apartheid fell.  Today, they marched in Copenhagen so that climate change will fall.

If you are able to bail out the banks with undreds of billions, surely you can give a few billion so the world’s poor can use clean energy and clean fuel.  For your own sake, for your childrens’ sake – pay up, please.

As Week One of the talks and Day One of SACE on the ground draws to a close I realize there is much work to be done by everyone here – and everyone at home.  Call the President and urge him to work for a “real deal” here and Copenhagen, and then consider a call to your Senators for a strong, clean energy bill that will enable the US to lead at home and abroad.

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