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Claire Campbell Post-Copenhagen Debrief

Dal prof Claire Campbell offers her thoughts and feelings on the weeks that were at the Copenhagen climate conference


I asked Dalhousie College of Sustainability History prof Claire Campbell for her post-Copenhagen thoughts. What were her feelings about the conference and the outcome, and what's next for the climate movement? Here is her response:

Of course I'm very disappointed at the lack of a comprehensive, enforceable, effective treaty. The past two weeks at Copenhagen showed there is an enormous amount of public support in both the developed and developing worlds for prioritizing climate change issues in both domestic and international governance.

And yet, is anyone really surprised? The scale of the problem coupled with the range of parties amplifies the byzantine nature of international negotiations. More forgivingly, consider the historical dimension to this: we have relatively little experience in successful transnational governance, particularly when it comes to challenging nation-state sovereignty, and very little when it comes to environmental issues (maybe two decades). We need many Copenhagens to figure out /how/ to do it but we don't have endless amounts of time to repeat
the learning exercise. We're caught between a lack of historical memory and a lack of future time.

So there's the realist. The romantic part of me sees tens of thousands of people converging on one spot because they have made environmental or climate change issues part of their lives. The negotiators in Bella Center were only one (depressing) part. You also had researchers, inventors, community organizers, activists - all of whom, in their own way, saw this as an opportunity for dialogue with their counterparts from around the world.

Sustainability needs people from all walks of life. You have to be true to your passions and your abilities, whether as an historian, or an architect, or a biologist; but then bring those to environmental concerns. For every conversation mired in molasses at the Bella Center, there was one coloured by energy and action somewhere else in the city.

There is amazing work being done out there, and that was inspiring to see.


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