Copenhagen climate summit: How green is it?

The climate change conference will be telling the world to cut its carbon footprint. But what are the organisers doing to practice what they preach?

The message at the Copenhagen climate change summit is clear – the world must reduce its carbon footprint. Who would have guessed, then, that the 12-day summit is set to produce as much CO2 as an African country?

An estimated 15,000 people are travelling to the summit, along with 2,000 journalists. Many of them will fly although the organisers are officially encouraging people to come by train.

Whilst at the summit all these people will be guzzling energy. The organisers will lay 900km of computer cable and 50,000 square miles of carpet. More than 200,000 meals will be served and visitors will drink more than 200,000 cups of coffee.
 
To try to minimise the event’s ecological impact, the Bella Centre in Copenhagen – where the conference is being held – has cut emissions by 20 per cent, implementing a range of energy saving measures.

However, there will still be one big fat carbon footprint. The UN estimates the emissions from both international travel and living costs will be in the region of 40,500 tonnes – the equivalent impact of of the carbon emissions in Morocco in 2006. 

In a bid to be green, hotel owners have been encouraged to make rooms more environmentally friendly by letting residents use towels for more than one night and using insulation. Delegates are being encouraged to use public transport and drink tap water rather than bottled water. There will be no gifts or conference bags for delegates. Instead money has been invested in 11 scholarships for students from around the world attending a fully-financed two year MA degree course in Denmark.

Even the delegates’ social lives could be green if they make the effort. Delegates can hire bicycles, there is a ‘carbon neutral’ hairdresser in town and an ice rink that uses no water or electricity. There are even ‘carbon neutral’ hotdogs made from pork that is produced in factories where pig manure fuels electricity.

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