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Countdown to Copenhagen

Crucial stepping stones on the pathway to a climate pact. There are plenty of folks who are calling December's climate...


Crucial stepping stones on the pathway to a climate pact.

There are plenty of folks who are calling December's climate treaty summit in Copenhagen "the most important meeting in the history of the world." You can include me in those ranks (though it's actually called the 15th Conference of the Parties, or, more simply, COP15). In the now dwindling weeks leading up to these talks, the world will bear witness to a truly unprecedented run of climate change-related events, meetings, and actions, each having the potential to significantly influence the fate of the international treaty. Here's how you should be marking your calendar.August 28: 100 Days to CopenhagenLast week, with considerable fanfare trumpeting the official 100-day home stretch to COP15, the TckTckTck (like the sound of a clock-or a bomb-ticking) campaign was launched. TckTckTck is "an unprecedented alliance of organizations," explains chair Kumi Naidoo, "including faith and youth groups, unions, environmental and development NGOs, such as WWF, Oxfam International, Consumers International and Kofi Annan's Global Humanitarian Forum." Considering all the heavyweights involved (each with vast constituencies), it's quite probably the worlds largest ever climate change campaign.Get involved: Join over a million others in voicing your support for a global climate deal that is "ambitious, fair and binding."September 20 to 26: Climate Week NY°COn September 23, the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations kicks off in Manhattan. Not coincidentally, the very same week has been dubbed Climate Week NY°C, with a number of partners-including The Climate Group, the City of New York, TckTckTck, and the UN itself-committed to underscoring the urgency of international action on climate change. Thousands of business, government, and NGO leaders from around the world will converge on New York City for an overstuffed schedule of "high-level meetings, panel discussions, cultural events, and public engagements." Meanwhile, at UN Headquarters, international diplomats will be paying attention.Get involved: Get thee to New York and take part in any of the dozens of events planned. They're also looking for volunteers.September 21: Global Wake Up Call By setting off alarm clocks, ringing cell phones, and participating in raucous events and stunts, thousands of concerned citizens around the world will together be making a massive amount of noise on the Monday before the UN summit kicks off a "global wake-up call" to awaken a sleepwalking public to the urgent climate crisis.Get involved: Find an event near you and help wake up the world.September 24 to 25: G-20 Climate Change SummitBack in July, President Obama called upon finance ministers from wealthy G-20 member states to come up with proposals for financing climate change mitigation plans, especially for developing nations, and to report back at this gathering in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A few draft papers in advance of the meetings have "posed more questions than answers," but the hope is that the leaders of these rich nations can agree on ways to fairly produce the funds for poor countries to deal in a carbon-constrained world.September 28 to October 7: UN Bangkok Climate Change TalksThe main goal of this "intersessional" meeting of the UNFCCC negotiators is to move the ball forward and close in on an acceptable draft treaty to be signed in Copenhagen. As these are the only such meetings to be held in the "Global South," where the impacts of climate change are already being felt most severely, we can expect considerable focus on hot-button developed vs. developing, rich vs/ poor, North vs. South issues.October 24: 350.org's International Day of Climate ActionWe've talked before about how 350 is the "most important number in the world." On October 24th, 350.org is rallying activists all around the world to celebrate this "bottom line for the planet," with actions big and small planned from iconic spots like the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Golden Gate Bridge, to small town greens and village squares. The goal: that the Copenhagen treaty uses 350 parts per million as a baseline target for the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.Get involved: There are already more than 1,400 events planned in more than 100 countries. Find one nearby, or launch your own here.November 2 to 6: United Nations Barcelona Climate Change TalksThe last intersessional meeting of the UNFCCC before COP15 will hopefully see a final (well, final-ish) draft of a global climate treaty hammered out.Mid-November: Obama Goes to ChinaTogether, the United States and China produce about 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama will be making his first visit to China less than a month before the Copenhagen meetings, and the latest reports are that the two countries will be signing a bilateral climate deal that could build much-needed momentum for the rest of the world heading into COP15.December 7 to 18: COP15, the United Nations Climate Change ConferenceThe Big Show. Everything else is just preparation. We'll be breaking down, thoroughly dissecting, and over-analyzing pretty much everything about COP15 in weeks ahead, both online and in the next issue of the magazine. Stay tuned.
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