Optimism for Copenhagen talks emerges from Al Gore’s training

DSC05854Adianto P. Simamora ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Melbourne   |  Tue, 07/21/2009 2:26 PM  |  National

“Tonight is a time when I feel elevated to a different level of consciousness, awareness and knowledge,” declared Arif Hasyim, director for Asia Biogas, in his blog entry just hours after Al Gore’s climate training.

For Arif, the three-day climate training with Nobel Peace Prize winner and former US vice president Al Gore had spawned “strange” feelings on the issue of climate change.

“I wish this *conference* would never end; but on the other hand, I can’t wait to go and start working,” he said, referring to his “voluntary targets” to spread Gore’s message to at least 10 community groups in Indonesia this year.

Arief is one of 50 Indonesians who received the chance to join the training session of The Climate Project (TCP) in Australia.

Gore, presenting the “lively” slideshow he used during the Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, has built optimism among participants of a better climate future with more people now aware of climate issues.

Gore set up TCP, an international non-profit organization, with the idea of raising public awareness of the climate crisis at the grassroots level worldwide.

To date, TPC presenters have reached a combined audience of more than 5 million people across the planet.

Another Indonesia delegate, 64-year-old Abdul Razak Manan, a commissioner at state-owned seaport operator PT Pelindo I, was also trained to communicate directly with his community in order to generate momentum for the best possible outcome at the Copenhagen climate change UN talks in December.

“I hope my role at the training will mean I can work to inspire and create change in order to avoid catastrophic climate change here in Indonesia,” he said.

“I plan to be an advocate for this work in the important five-month lead-up to the Copenhagen climate change negotiations.”

He added he would share his newfound knowledge with Pelindo employees across the country.

The executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, who organized TCP in Australia, said the participants would be agents of change on the climate crisis.

“These people are united in wanting to find a solution to the worst of dangerous climate change,” he said.

“They can now return to their communities and act as agents of change, asking their leaders to be part of the solution to the climate crisis.

“Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are going to be crucial in a good outcome to Copenhagen. All countries need to lead this issue – just as we need to do the right thing at home.”

The Copenhagen talks are expected to result in a new agreement on reducing carbon emissions to avoid global average temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius.

The new climate regime will replace the existing Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012, and require developed countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent from 1990 levels.

Such nations, including the United States, have repeatedly asked emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil to also be tied to legally binding emissions reduction targets.

China and India, however, have rejected the proposal, leaving climate negotiations in limbo.

The recent G-8 leaders’ summit in Italy also showed how difficult it would be to persuade the world to make lifestyle and economic sacrifices needed to save the planet from global warming.

The summit failed to make any major headway on firm commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

The Copenhagen talks are also expected to agree on the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) concept as an alternative mechanism to reducing emissions from forests.

The head of the Indonesian delegation to TCP in Australia, Yani Saloh, said preventing deforestation was a low-cost way of reducing emissions.

“As the third-most forested tropical country, I hope Indonesia will take this opportunity to show leadership and become a world leader in shaping – and benefiting from – the REDD,” she said.

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