Offsetting Copenhagen's carbon footprint

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Offsetting Copenhagen's carbon footprint

Offsetting Copenhagen's carbon footprint
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Sealing a climate deal at a carbon neutral summit – that is what COP15 organisers are hoping for.

And in that spirit, eco-friendly transport is everywhere, laid on free of charge. The Danish organisers want the UN summit to be a showcase of sustainable living. Champion of the cause is the man known in Copenhagen as the ‘Mayor of Bicycles.’ Klaus Bondam, the city’s Deputy Mayor, spoke of some of the preparation work his team has been doing:

“From the city of Copenhagen’s point of view we have invested 30 to 40 million euros in the COP15. It is of course a lot of investment which also benefits our citizens afterwards.

“We have created the space for a lot of activities for the COP15 on the town hall square with a lot of rock concerts and so on, so we hope that will attract some of the young people coming to our city and hopefully make them stay away from violent action.”

The large number of delegations from different countries has taken organisers by surprise. As it’s hoped this could be THE climate summit, no-one has wanted to stay away.

But critics argue that far too many people have been allowed to come – leaving a hefty carbon footprint. One visitor described her journey to the summit:

“I come from Nepal and I came via aeroplane- from Kathmandu to Dehli, Dehli to Vienna, Vienna to Copenhagen.”

The hosts are trying to find ways to offset all that travelling: a wind turbine set up outside the summit centre, water cups turned into biofuel, uniforms from recycled plastics, kitchens serving organic food, to name just a few. Jan-Christoph Napierski is Head of Sustainability at COP15. He says:

“COP15 will create about 40 thousand tons of C02 equivalent. We are not only counting CO2 but other greenhouse gas emissions. These greenhouse gas emissions will be offset in Bangladesh by a project where we are going to make two factories much more energy effective, by using less coal in the production. This will not only be positive for air quality in the region but reduce the CO2 significantly.”

Such initiatives make COP15 truly unique. It is one of the biggest ever UN conferences and the first ever to attempt to be carbon neutral. While some argue its sheer scale is over-the-top, most agree that reaching an agreement is so critical that nothing should stand in its way.