Greenpeace to send U students to UN global conference

by Seth Woehrle

When the United Nations holds its next meeting on climate change in the Netherlands, two University students will be watching the proceedings unfold along with students from colleges across the nation.
Randall Sanderson, a senior in geography, and Eleonore Wesserle, a junior in fisheries and wildlife management, will attend the Sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at The Hague in the Netherlands from Nov. 18-25.
Sanderson, Wesserle and 198 other students from other colleges across the nation will travel to The Hague as part of Greenpeace’s delegation. After arriving in the Netherlands, they will meet with more students from around the world.
The students will lobby U.S. representatives to the conference, act as watchdogs against industry representatives and talk to the media on Greenpeace’s behalf.
The U.S. student group was originally organized by Ozone Action, an environmental group that has since merged with Greenpeace.
The COP6 conference that they will attend is part of the UNFCCC, which was created at the Rio De Janeiro Summit in 1992. This particular conference will involve fleshing out the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol, developed in the Third Conference of the Parties, is a proposal to make mandatory emissions standards for all countries involved in the UNFCCC. The purpose of COP6 is to hammer out the specifics of the protocol.
“Our pledge, if we sign it, is to decrease our emissions by 7 percent (from 1990 levels),” Wesserle said of the United State’s position at the conference.
The need for measures to reduce emission is especially evident after new findings from an international organization of scientists affiliated with the U.N.
Barbara Freese, a former Minnesota assistant attorney general writing a book on global warming said recent revelations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have shown that global warming is more serious and rapid than they had estimated in previous reports.
“Basically (the IPCC) said,’It’s worse than we thought,’ and they upped their predictions to what I think are alarming numbers,” said Freese. “They have done this in a way that lends added urgency to this upcoming meeting.”
The fate of any agreement or negotiations at COP6 is uncertain during this election year.
George W. Bush, who was said he is against ratifying the Kyoto agreement, may not support the Gore-backed U.S. delegation agreements if he is elected president.
Sanderson says he is unhappy with the Gore delegation’s attempts to make exemptions for things like nuclear power in a provision called the Clean Development Mechanism.
“The delegates from the EPA under Gore have been trying to put in a bunch of loopholes that would basically make it, as a treaty, ineffective,” said Sanderson.
Meghan Conklin, one of the Greenpeace organizers of the delegation stressed the importance of the November conference.
“It is the most important meeting on global warming in years,” said Conklin. It’s a turning point for the Kyoto Protocol.”

Seth Woehrle welcomes comments at [email protected]