Q&A: University of Michigan professor discusses climate change conference in Copenhagen
Henry Pollack is traveling with the University of Michigan delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
The global climate change conference in Copenhagen just began heating up last week, and a delegation from the University of Michigan hopes to witness it all.
That group, which is being led by Richard Rood, a U-M professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences; Paul Edwards from the School of Information; and Henry Pollack, a U-M geophysicist, includes several students.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference started in Copenhagen, Denmark, a week ago. Events are planned through Dec. 18. Group members wlll be blogging about their experiences while they are there.
Before leaving for Denmark, Pollack recently answered some questions about his expectations for the trip. Pollack served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which received the Nobel Peace Prize, along with former Vice President Al Gore in 2007. Gore wrote the forward in Pollack's recently published book on climate change: “A World without Ice.”
Q: Can you explain a bit about what is going on in Copenhagen this month?
A: The broad agenda in Copenhagen is to draft a mitigation treaty, or a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two big topics are how more developed nations are going to help and what kind of monitoring and enforcement aspects will be part of the treaty The main thing is putting a treaty in place.
Q. What sort of access will you have at this conference?
A. My role will be an observer. I’m part of the official University of Michigan observation committee which will give us access to many of the official activities (at the conference). One day I’m going to go out of Copenhagen to Aarhus, and I’m going to get a tour of the Vestas (Wind Systems A/S) research facility because I have a special interest in wind energy.
Q: What sort of agreement would you like to see come out of this conference?
A. I’m interested to see them put as much meat on this framework as possible because a treaty with no meat on it is just conceptual. Since China, India and the USA have already, more or less, made statements about agreements, I think there will be meat on it.
Q: Can you offer some context on how big of a deal it would be for the U.S. to make any climate change agreements as a result of this conference?
A. Number one: The U.S. has never signed onto an international climate change agreement of this scope before. There is the Kyoto (Protocol), which the U.S. helped draft, but the senate never approved. It is a big deal It will be a big statement even though we over here have carbon-based fuel, we are trying to move away from that.
Q: As a researcher traveling from Michigan, what would you want to see at this conference?
A. I’m keen to see how the policies are shaping up. The science, despite all the leaked emails, is well accepted It will be interesting to see the urgency expressed by the different nations. It will be a learning experience for me.