Wed, Dec 16, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Climate conference taking a heavy toll on the environment

REUTERS , COPENHAGEN

The Copenhagen climate talks will generate more carbon emissions than any previous climate conference, equivalent to the annual output of over half a million Ethiopians, figures commissioned by Denmark show.

Delegates, journalists, activists and observers from almost 200 countries have gathered at the summit and their travel and work will create 46,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide, most of it from their flights.

This would fill nearly 10,000 Olympic swimming pools, and is the same amount produced each year by 2,300 Americans or 660,000 Ethiopians — the vast difference is due to the huge gap in consumption patterns in the two countries — according to US government statistics about per person emissions in 2006.

Despite efforts by the Danish government to reduce the conference’s carbon footprint, around 5,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be created by the summit and a further 40,500 tonnes created by attendees’ flights to Copenhagen.

The figure for the flights was calculated by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, while the domestic carbon footprint from the summit was calculated by accountants Deloitte, Deloitte consultant Stine Balslev said.

“This is much bigger than the last talks because there are many more people here,” she said, adding that 18,000 people were expected to pass through the conference center every day.

“These are preliminary figures but we expect that when we do the final calculations after the conference is over, the carbon footprint will be about the same,” she said.

Deloitte included in their calculations emissions caused by accommodation, local transport, electricity and heating of the conference center, paper, security, transport of goods and services as well as energy used by computers, kitchens, photocopiers and printers inside the conference center.

Accommodation accounted for 23 percent of the summit’s greenhouse gas emissions, while transport caused 7 percent. Seventy percent came from activities inside the conference center, she said.

“We have been forced to put up some temporary buildings in order to provide the delegation rooms because the number of participants is so much larger than expected,” Balslev said. “For instance the US delegation has ordered an area that’s five times as big as last year.”

The temporary buildings housing delegation offices are not well insulated and are warmed by oil heaters, so this area is the most wasteful, she said.

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