After an overnight flight from Newark, the first sign I saw getting off the plane in Denmark read "Welcome to Hopenhagen, Population 6.8 Billion."
Hopenhagen signs were plastered everywhere. As I walked through customs I wanted to say, "I am the Hopenhagen Ambassador," and point to the signs on the wall.
Every bit of advertising in the airport appeared to be directed at the UN Climate Change Conference delegates. One sign argued that we needed to keep CO2 under 350 ppm if we want to preserve coral reefs (CO2 is currently at 390ppm). Another showed a computer generated image of Angela Merkel, the German Prime Minister, ten years in the future apologizing for not stopping climate change.
After meeting the Hopenhagen team, I did something that I've always wanted to do: ride a bike away from an airport. I've borrowed my father's folding Bike Friday for this journey. The Bike Friday is a transformer--it transforms from a bike folded inside a suitcase into a bicycle and bike trailer. I can throw my luggage into the bike trailer and then ride off.
Below is a one-minute video of riding from the terminal to my hotel in the center of Copenhagen, a trip that I was able to take without ever leaving a bike path. This city has some of the best bicycle infrastructure in the world, which is why I'm laughing or smiling in the entire video. Later this week, I'll write more about how easy it is to bike in Copenhagen.
Having arrived on an overnight flight, the rest of the day was a bit of a wash. I was supposed to have a group dinner with Al Gore, but then learned that he canceled and I didn't learn this fact until I had already skipped the huge protest and vigil (between 60,000 and 100,000 people marched in the largest climate rally in history).
That evening I took the subway to the Bella Center, where the talks are being held. I arrived after the main protest, but I did run into fellow Climate Rider and extreme skier Allison Ganett, who covered the talks last week as press and who I interviewed. If you watch the video, notice how remarkably quiet the subway is. (Allison has skis because she used them for the protest.)
Allison talked about the fact that Tuvalu held up negotiations last week. The country, which is a collection of eight islands in the Pacific, has no land more than four feet above sea level. Unsurprisingly, Tuvalu called for the strongest of possible agreements: a legally binding treaty that would set a goal of 350 parts per million CO2. Even though a treaty of this strength may be the only one that keeps Tuvalu from being swallowed by the sea, few of the big emitters, such as U.S. or China, would even discuss such a target.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a Desmond Tutu's response to the question "What gives you hope that we can solve climate change?"