Jan 172010
Authors: Matt Minich

Among the thousands of politicians, activists and speakers at the United Nation’s climate conference this week in Copenhagen, at least one face will be familiar to CSU students.

Former president of the Associated Students of CSU Taylor Smoot has established a place for himself at the historic conference just months after graduating in May.

“The atmosphere is really amazing,” he said. “It’s like a mini planet.” Delegates from environmental groups and 192 countries have traveled to the conference, many dressed in traditional attire.

Smoot is attending the conference as one of the European coordinators of the international non-profit Mediators Beyond Borders. The group is attending the conference to provide mediation in the event of any major disputes.

While the goal of the MBB is to play the role of an objective mediator, Smoot said they had taken a stance supporting the drafting of a treaty regarding climate change and would mediate with the intention of reaching that goal.

The treaty will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first treaty developed to fight global warming, when it expires in 2012.

As of October 2009, the Kyoto Protocol, signed in Kyoto, Japan, has united 184 states under the goal of reducing four greenhouse gases: Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluouride and the two groups of gases produced by them — hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons.

“In the situation of a break down, we will not pick side but look for a way to help the countries and their delegate make an agreement or compromise,” Smoot said.

In the first four days of the conference, Smoot and his organization have been in contact with delegates from 14 of the countries present, including Nigeria, Australia and Malawi.

The delegates have spent their days hearing talks on and holding discussions on a variety of climate issues, ranging from the scientific proof and ecological effects of climate change to the economic and social responsibilities of the United States, Europe and China. So far, no major conflicts requiring mediation have arisen.

Smoot is not the only CSU community member to attend the conference — members of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability are representing the university in a more official capacity.

“It’s important for the university to know that (their own) people are involved in climate research,” said Steve Ogle, a CSU researcher who will give a presentation at the talks intended to help Southeast Asia reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Though most delegates have arrived and discussions have begun, the most serious decisions regarding a treaty on global climate change will not be resolved until later in the week, when President Obama and other major global figures visit the conference.

“There won’t be a plan or one signed contract by Dec. 18. That’s unrealistic,” said Patrick Canavan, the education coordinator for the School of Global Environmental Sustainability.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira and staff writer Chris O’Toole contributed reporting for this article.

Senior Reporter Matt Minich can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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