Day 9-- Copenhagen Blog: Sub National Day

A story that has not been widely reported by the media is that nearly all of the NGO groups and observers are no longer able to access the Bella Center where the negotiations are underway at COP15.  Why does that matter? Many activists, including us, traveled thousands of miles and spent a lot of money to come and get their message delivered to the negotiators – whether from a small village in Africa or, like us, the urban jungle of Los Angeles – thousands have traveled here to get their voice heard. 

Today was supposed to be a big day for the work that we do – in Copenhagen today is being coined as “Sub National” Day.  Many events are scheduled to highlight sub national work.  Our Governor is scheduled to speak to delegates about the importance of action at a local level.  It’s a fact that over 33 U.S. states have developed plans to combat climate change and hundreds of U.S. cities are doing the same.  Action on climate change at the local level has also taken hold throughout the world. Ultimately nearly 80% of action to mitigate climate change will be implemented at the sub national level. That said I was eager to hear our Governor and other leaders speak about this issue, as it has been the focus of our organizations’ work for the last few years.

But alas we were locked out, left out in the cold (literally as today it finally snowed in Copenhagen). Feeling like a refugee I was determined to get into the Bella Center nonetheless.  I’m the type that even if I don’t want to go to the party I still want to know that I can go even if I change my mind. 

What to do, what to do as I got word that there were no passes to get in and even if you did have a pass the wait to get in was up to 7 hours. So my determined mind began searching the UN website – knowing there had to be a way to get access.  And indeed after a quick couple of searches I hit paydirt.  Most of the side events and press conferences for the conference are accessible via the UN’s webcast and there amongst them was the Governor’s speech listed for me to view. So take that UN organizers-- I might not be able to get in your doors but at least I can be a fly on the wall.

I intently viewed the governors’ speech which was an extended version of an inspired speech he gave last night at a private event. He hit it out of the ballpark and instead of trying to articulate the details here I will point you in the direction of the speech. I will however quickly summarize the crux of his message - we cannot wait for the governments of the world to do this for us – we must do it ourselves and in fact that’s what states, regions, corporations, activists, individuals, entrepreneurs and universities are doing. He drove the point – all great movements were born from the people, from the grassroots. He spoke about transformation and how we each individually and collectively have the power to transform our world into one that is sustainable and green and equitable. As critical as international government agreements are they will never agree to do enough. So what if we just take that as a given.

After viewing his speech and feeling sufficiently renewed I started eavesdropping on a conversation in the lobby of my hotel. A woman was talking about a meeting she had just been to – the theme was sub national action and how states and corporations are not waiting for the international leaders to move forward – they are going to do this stuff anyway!!!! And so will I.  I mean, just because the big wigs in Copenhagen don’t make a deal, I will not change my recycling, non-meat eating ways.  I doubt the Danes who use their bikes to travel around town will now ditch them for a gas guzzling, CO2 emitting car either. In fact, strangely it makes me want to forge on even more passionately.  And with that I took a look at the UN website to see what else I could get a window on . . .ah right up my alley. . .Friends of the Earth’s Angry Mermaid Award for worst business lobbying on climate change results! Onward!