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On Our Way To Copenhagen

Copenhagen Closeup

December 7, 2009 | By Brian Beauchamp
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

  Brian Beauchamp displays his local pride with Team Climate and TC350 apparel at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, on his way to the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

COPENHAGEN—The first person I spoke with at the airport on my way to what could be mankind’s largest-ever gathering of world leaders for a single policy issue was the airline check-in attendant. When I told him I was heading to Copenhagen, he gave me a quizzical look. 

At first, I thought maybe I was at the wrong airport or in the wrong line, but his response quickly explained his puzzled look. 

“What’s happening in Copenhagen?” he asked. Apparently an inordinate number of travelers were checking in this morning for flights to Copenhagen.

And so it really is happening, finally! Young people, old people, seasoned travelers, climate experts, students, and activists from around the world are on their way to what is to be the world’s biggest stage for negotiating climate solutions.

Kimberly Hill, a staff member from Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice—a wonderful Detroit non-profit working to enhance the lives of people in inner city Detroit—joined me on our flight. She is part of a Michigan youth delegation of more than a dozen people who will report, blog, research, listen, and learn.

They are hardly alone. Hundreds of students from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and colleges across the state and country are arriving in Denmark from every continent and nation for the same kind of experience.

So, what will happen here? That seems to be the question that no one can answer yet. I, for one, look forward to sharing the story of TC350 with the people I meet here, and bring a taste of Michigan’s commitment to working on climate solution to the leaders meeting here over the next two weeks.

Whatever transpires—science panels, meetings with heads of states, an Obama frenzy, high level international treaty negotiations—one story is already abundantly clear: People from around the world are paying attention.

And that will most certainly affect the outcome of this historic gathering.

Brian Beauchamp is a policy specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute and coordinates TC350.org activities. Reach him at brian@mlui.org.

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