Good COP, Bad COP

Carbon Footprint (with video).
by -- December 9th, 2009

How green is it to attend a climate change conference?

Since starting the MEM/MBA program at Duke I’ve given a bit of thought to my carbon footprint, especially the footprint I’m creating in attending climate conferences.  This past fall I attended the Linda Library Climate Change Symposium in Kansas City, Missouri.  The trip was underwritten with a generous donation by Crosby Kemper and organized by Andrew Dietrich.  And now, I’m here in Copenhagen attending COP-15.

What did it take for me to get here?

  • a 10 mile drive to the train station
  • a 25 mile train ride on NJTransit
  • a short trip on the Airtrain monorail from the station to Newark airport
  • a 3,849 mile plane ride on Continental Airlines
  • and 9 miles on the Metro in Copenhagen

What do I have to experience in Copenhagen to make this trip worth the toll on the environment?


  1. Neil Offen
    Dec 10, 2009

    Hey, I’m a reporter with The Herald-Sun in Durham. I’d like to do a story on all of you blogging from Copenhagen. What’s it like there? What benefits do you think your blogging will have? What are you hoping to accomplish with your blogging?

    Hope to hear from you soon.


  2. Carl
    Dec 10, 2009

    Little to nothing

  3. Bob Clemen
    Dec 10, 2009

    Jeannette, I think it’s a good question. I like to ask folks at sustainability conferences, “What is the carbon footprint for this conference?” I usually get a response to the effect of, “Well, it’s justified, because we are doing something that’s good for the earthin the long run.” Well, OK. But that sounds like a rationalization to me.

    I have no idea what the total carbon footprint for COP 15 is. It is not insignificant. Electricity in Denmark is pretty green — lots of renewables — so I’m not worried about that. The killer, though, is the air travel for everyone.

    All that said, the UNFCCC conferences are important. If there is one conference that does need to go on if we are to reach a global cooperative agreement on climate change, it’s Copenhagen and the inevitable follow-ups. — BC

    • Robert Sorice
      Dec 11, 2009

      Excellent question! The issue has to be faced somewhere, every citizen of earth needs to be a prudent stewart of our resources and not be selfish, hopefully this footprint will be small compared to the good coming from those concerned, and may those that come after us benefit inheriting a far more healthy EARTH.

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