Regardless of what might be taking shape behind the closed doors of negotiating rooms, a COP 15 is like a trade fair for the lifestyles of the future. You don’t have to wait for the deal, the message is, to get on with a cleaner, greener life.
This time last year the parties were meeting in Poznan, which, like other cities in Poland, depends on coal for its energy. As the COP opened in Poznan, Polish government was arguing in Brussels that it needed to go on burning large quantities of coal. On the subject of a future low carbon life, Poznan was silent.
Copenhagen is different. Ever since the oil shock in the seventies, the Danish government has taken energy security very seriously. With no Danish oilfields, it took the route of efficiency. conservation and investment in renewables – so successfully that Denmark became a leader in the design and manufacture of wind technologies.
It has had an impact on every aspect of life: an estimate 40 per cent of Copenhagen’s citizens now cycle to work; the public transport system is comprehensive and efficient and only one third of the city dwellers own a car, according to City Hall. The city has put the cyclists to work, powering the municipal Christmas tree.