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November 29, 2010

VT Law School Student and Prof Blogging from COP16 Climate Change Conference

COP16 Remember last year's global climate change conference in Copenhagen? The one that, despite Barack and Michelle Obama's best efforts, failed to produce a binding U.N. treaty to slow global warming?

Well, it's happening again, this year in Cancun, Mexico, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10. A Vermont Law School professor and student are attending the COP16 conference and blogging about it.

VLS assistant professor Katherine Garvey and third-year law student Dan Miller will aim to provide a local perspective on the U.N. "conference of parties," or COP16. According to a VLS press release, Garvey is there to see what Vermont can learn from Latin American countries that, like us, have greenhouse gas emissions from land use, agriculture and forestry. Miller is focusing on financing adaptation and mitigation projects, with emphasis on the role of the U.N. Development Programme, the release states.

Pyramid After last year's big let down on a binding U.N. treaty, incremental progress is the name of the game at this year's conference. Miller writes:

The climate change solution is a structure at the summit of a Mayan pyramid that can be ascended from different sides, a step or a few at a time, on each side. REDD-plus is one such expanse of steps: counter-deforestation, reforestation, agriforesty, improving the lives of native peoples around and in forest carbon sinks. Technology transfer is another stair. Imagine what would have been the greenhouse gas reduction accrued since the time of Edison and Tesla if an advanced society had provided the now-developed countries detailed plans for solar panels and wind turbines, and startup grants thereto. Or if Henry Ford had been handed the plans and necessary technical assistance to manufacture Toyota Priuses.

Garvey's first post aims to answer the question some might ask her about trip to the conference: "COP16? Really? Why?"

No heads of state are even to attend COP 16. Expectations are very low. So why even go? I hope to learn from Latin American countries who, like Vermont, have significant greenhouse gas emissions coming from land use, agricultural and forestry.  I hope to share with them what is being done in Vermont and other parts of the U.S. I’m not holding my breath for internationally binding commitments to solve this problem, so I am interested to see what is being done locally and regionally in different parts of the world.

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