The mood in Copenhagen after the arrests of almost 400 people was a bit more polarized today. There were no official events at the United Nations Forum on Sunday but plenty of activity around town. I went to the industry event called "Bright Green" -- a forum on technological solutions to climate change and also to the activist's shadow forum called Klimaforum.
Luminaries were speaking at both events -- Nobel laureate (Physics) and Energy Secretary Steven Chu spoke at the industry forum and gave a convoluted powerpoint about all the innovative research projects that DOE was supporting. He was articulate and came across as "knowing the stuff." However, I could also see many on the other side of the aisle saying "the Obama administration is too professorial." He was quite vocal in support of nuclear power with a new generation of reactors and indicated that the was problem "could be solved" -- though no specifics were offered. There was more of a focus on energy efficiency technologies, conservation and new ways of storing energy. He mentioned that during a recent visit to Norway he was impressed with the use of solar and wind for hydropower pumping into reservoirs at an elevation from where electricity could be generated at peak times using hydropower. Also, geothermal building technologies for heat exchange were presented with great enthusiasm. Dr. Chu was clear about some high-risk, high-reward strategies such as manganese-antimony cells and enzymes for harnessing biotic energy which DOE was also supporting.
At the activist's forum there was a presentation by famed Indian environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva who spoke about a "Manifesto on Climate Change and the Future of Food Security." She continued with her usual anti-technology stance about farming and was championed by a contingent from Italy where the government of Tuscany has been supporting her call for GMO-free farming. According to Dr. Shiva, the Italian support stemmed from how activists were shot at the trade talks in Genoa three years back. The Tuscans have also supported an ad hoc "International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture" which has apparently been adopted by more than 50 regional governments in Europe (see my previous blog post about local government and regional action on climate change). While I found myself agreeing with her concern about the estimated €350 billion subsidies for agriculture worldwide versus a paltry €1.5 billion for adaptation to climate change that the Europeans have pledged, her anti-technology stance was disturbing. She even dismissed biochar as an "industrial trick" of "carbon colonists." However, the minions at the Klimaforum were all applause. Debi Barker, often credited as the mind behind the Seattle anti-trade protests was also critical of Obama's plan and call for more protests and action.
The polarization continues..