18 December 2009

From Copenhagen to AGU Fall Meeting to Capitol Hill

Posted by Michael McFadden

COP15The Copenhagen talks, or COP15, have seen organized mass protests, some of which turned violent, but there has been some progress, too. At this point, one of the few concrete successes to point to is the REDD (Reducing Emissions and Deforestation and Degradation) agreement. Under REDD, the carbon dioxide stored in forests would become a commodity to be bought and sold on a global market. Polluting companies could buy emission offsets through credits for carbon stored in forests. The money from the REDD endeavor would go to developing nations to protect forests.

Additionally, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced yesterday the US would contribute to a $100 billion global fund to help developing countries combat climate change. President Obama also gave a speech at a plenary session of 119 world leaders earlier this morning, urging them to come together, noting, “The time for talk is over.”  The President’s remarks seem to have been directed at China, which has refused to accept international monitoring of its emissions levels.  More details on a global agreement are still being worked out.

While the world’s policymakers have convened in Copenhagen to try to come to a global agreement as a result of decades of Earth science, many Earth scientists from around the world have convened to discuss their science at the AGU meeting in San Francisco. Furthermore, many AGU scientists expressed an interest in participating remotely in the proceedings at COP15. Over 650 AGU members volunteered to be a resource for news reporters as questions arose on the science behind the political agreements. AGU was very encouraged by the number of volunteers, which signaled that AGU members are concerned with the public policy outcomes of their science.

Many AGU members have also become involved in public policy activities through AGU’s Congressional Visits Days or the Congressional Science Fellowship, where fellows spend one year in the office of a Member of Congress or a Congressional Committee on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, nearly 100 members attended an informational luncheon about the Congressional Science Fellowship Program and had the opportunity to speak to AGU’s current fellow, Maeve Boland, as well as the past fellow, Maggie Walser.

Julie Stuart, of Making Ideas Visible, was also on hand to draw up the discussion.

Fellows Snapshot

You can view her complete mural on the second floor of Moscone West.

If you are interested in other public policy activities with AGU, please visit our website.

—Kaitlin Chell, AGU Public Affairs Coordinator, [email protected]