Can COP15 Be Trusted in Your Neighborhood?

As crucial agreements are made in Copenhagen, we should question how these decisions will directly affect our local communities.


cop15First of all, many folks have heard the term, but what exactly is COP15?  Copenhagen, Denmark, is hosting the 15th  United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) from Dec. 7-18.  Participants from more than 192 countries representing governments, business communities and civil societies will convene to try and reconcile international protocol on global climate change.

As these nations gather to decide on policies and guidelines that will set the stage for global transformations, it is important that we analyze each agreement and make efforts to ensure that, once these well intended decisions trickle-down to our local communities, we are not left with negative side effects that bring us even more troubles.

Malcolm Brinded, executive director exploration and production, at the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers, in Amsterdam, says, “We need balance between the three Es of Energy security, Economic development and Environment.  Policies aimed at a too hasty displacement of fossil energy might well help mitigate the risk of climate shocks, but would at the same time condemn many of the world’s citizens to energy poverty.”

There is no doubt that something has to be done to combat global climate change, and better provide sustainable energy for the entire world.  But we should make sure that these changes do not force more difficult conditions on segments of society that are already burdened with many other problems.

Will COP15 bring new guidelines that force local oil refineries to suddenly close-down, and be replaced by wind turbines set far away from minority communities?  Will the protocol force families to personally pay huge amounts to retrofit homes and cars?  Will new “green jobs” initiated by the protocol require advanced degrees or expensive training?  All of these questions should be asked.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has been granted Civil Society Observer Status for COP15, and has sent six members of its Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change, and three staff members, as representatives in Copenhagen.  The delegation is led by Carolyn L. Green, managing partner, EnerGreen Capital Management, LLC.  Green is also chair of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, and has been selected to serve as a panelist for Black Enterprise’s “A Conversation on Energy” forum that will be held in Washington, D.C., on January 12, 2010.

Green says, “The re-emergence of American leadership on climate change in Copenhagen will be an excellent opportunity to elevate the concerns of African Americans in the global warming debate as we draw closer to Congressional action. As a respected body holding close relationships with members of Congress and Administration officials, the Joint Center’s Climate Change Commission is uniquely positioned to do this, and we plan to advance our key policy principles with respect to climate change and communities of color.”

Now is the time for conscious leaders of our community to step-up as representatives of people who want clean air, AND good jobs.  If we are represented at the forefront of these decisions, we can better prepare for a gradual transformation that carries minimal discomfort.

COP15 is not a super-human police officer programmed to rid our neighborhoods of crime; but it should be a mechanism set in place to “protect and serve” our communities, and not “hustle and steal” our good jobs and hard-earned money.

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André Williams is the founder and principal consultant of Energy Relations—a full service firm that specializes in providing public relations and communications services for businesses and organizations in the energy industry. He has over 11 years experience providing consultation in the energy, environmental, and government sectors.

One Response to “Can COP15 Be Trusted in Your Neighborhood?”

  1. George Brooks, Jr Ph.D. Says:

    December 21st, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill

    Last week (December 11, 2009) I had the pleasure of being interviewed by New America Media for my opinion on COP15 through an African American lens. In summary, I am pleased and proud that President Obama was able to “rescue” some value from the conference. However, taking Churchill’s words to heart, I believe that in waiting for the “powers that be” to take action we are missing a significant opportunity. Instead of worrying about what the new regulations will do to us, we should be planning what we will do WITH it.

    As I have written in earlier posts, to make sustainability sustainable, it must be useful. To make it useful, it must be put to work. This means to move beyond the regulatory framework and apply sustainability, including actions to reduce our CO2 footprint, as development tools to reach our short and long term societal and economic goals. This will encourage innovation, build competitive advantage and create jobs. It will also allow us to capture additional economic and social value from the CO2 regulations as they are implemented.

    Americans normally seek the better mouse trap. As we are now seeing more and more across the nation, 40 years of Green innovations are now providing the best and most cost effective means of achieving our goals and desires. The more individuals and businesses understand that Green solutions can best meet their needs today, the faster these practices will be adopted and the faster our CO2 footprint will drop.

    To listen to the interview and additional readings on the subject, please click on the link below:

    http://bit.ly/6dBvGb

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