SPECIAL REPORT: Live from Copenhagen, III

An update from our reporter on Al Gore's speech and more
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An update from our reporter on Al Gore's speech and more

In a series of special reports provided exclusively to BACKPACKER, Letitia Webster takes us inside the meetings currently underway at the global climate conference in Copenhagen. Letitia is the director of corporate sustainability and marketing for The North Face and one of the leading thinkers in the outdoor industry about reducing the carbon footprint of the products we play with outside. Our very own Berne Broudy, the usual author of this blog has worked extensively alongside Letitia on the industry's sustainability panel. (Berne is on assignment in Laos until next week.)

COPENHAGEN: December 16, 2009

Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

With two days left, tension and anxiety is building here. Demonstrations and riots are increasing, and frustration abounds. A lot of excitement was placed on “Hopenhagen” that world powers like the US and China would put aside politics and short-term issues to develop a long-term global climate strategy that can deliver strong emission targets and respectful financing options. But as the conference enters its final hours, doubt is in the air, and people I've met are wondering if we'll go away with any real or meaningful decisions made.

Which is what you might have predicted at a gathering dominated by, well, politicians--lots of talk and not a lot of action. So where do we go from here? If you care about the climate and the damage that global warming is wreaking on the wilderness, call your Senator, email your Senator, and have your friends contact their Senators, especially those in swing states, to let them know you want strong action from the US. Do it now, not later. Will the framework that could still be devised in Copenhagen be perfect? No. But it would be a very good start. And as the global leader and the largest polluter, the US has the responsibility to step up.

Also today, Al Gore announced his goal to have a climate change bill passed in the US by the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which falls on April 22, 2010. And US leaders such as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R, CA) and Senator John Kerry (D, MA) are here rallying the troops and trying to keep the “hope” alive.

For this attendee, hope does remain. While I came to this gathering with high expectations for real and positive action, it's clear that this is a journey of more than one step--and we must remain positive to affect the change we want. The truth is, no matter what emerges on Friday, this event has raised the global consciousness around climate change. And that's a very good thing.

- Letitia Webster