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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

German green expert discusses effects of Copenhagen conference

Published: February 26, 2010
Section: News

International political scientist Arne Jungjohann presented continuing plans of the global green movement to the university’s Forum on Environmental Crisis at the Faculty Lounge Monday

“Let us go around the room,” Jungjohann, who was on last December’s world climate conference in Copenhagen, said. “I ask you: ‘Was Copenhagen a success or a failure?’”

Most participants, including members of the faculty from the International Business School and the Environmental Studies program and Student Union members, responded that international conference failed to produce “meaningful results.”

Jungjohann, from the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Washington, D.C., a think-tank affiliated with the German Green Party, disagreed.

“As a European, when I am in Europe, I agree with you [and the negative assessment],” he said. “But because I work in D.C., I see the many internal divergences,” Jungjohann said, “and I’m actually an optimist about the future.”

Though Jungjohann acknowledged his position representing a progressive nation in terms of climate control would lead people to believe he would be a hard-liner for strong results at Copenhagen.  However,  he said that when the European-centric and strong climate change activists’ views are balanced against American and developing nations’ problems, Copenhagen was actually “a limited success, ” he said.

“The Copenhagen accord,” he said, “for the first time lays out the agreement that the goal is for the average global temperature to not rise by more than two degrees Celsius [in comparison to 1990 levels].”

Though the involved nations still need to agree upon details of how developing nations can afford to green their economies, Jungjohann said the conference also established a basis for eventual funding, which he deemed a success.

For there to be success on the issue going forward, he said that Europeans must “learn the lesson of the divergences that were felt at Copenhagen.”

“Americans understand markets, shares and new technologies—this is a language they understand,” Jungjohann said. “This is the way European nations and activists need to frame the debate: green economies are better economies,” he said.

“This is the argument that I hope Europe will make to the United States,” he continued.

After the lecture, those present again voiced their dissatisfaction with the Copenhagen Conference.   Seeing this, Jungjohann declared that though “everyone is unhappy with the process of Copenhagen … we can’t wait for weather, bad occurrences, to take action.”

Jungjohann pointed to the upcoming November conference in Cancun, Mexico as the next stage to find a “new agreement before the Kyoto Protocol, [which regulates international emissions and energy for the sake of climate change] stops being in effect.”