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Climate student wants a big Copenhagen turnout for event

Master's student raising awareness about upcoming climate conference COP 21

Would you run 3,000 km, or cycle 17,000 km in three months? No? Fair enough. How about running 5 km, or biking 10 km? That’s more like it.

The goal is essentially the same – to raise awareness about the coming COP 21 conference in Paris. COP 21 is the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which begins 20 November 2015.

A larger Pole to Paris initiative has already begun, with Dr Daniel Price, an Antarctic climate expert cycling the 17,000 km from New Zealand, and Dr Erlend Moster Knudsen, an Arctic climate expert running the 3,000 km from northern Norway.

Timed to coincide with UN event

The Pole to Paris: Global Voices is a side-project of the main event, and is being organised in places where Erlend and Daniel aren’t able to pass through, like Copenhagen, explains Erik Melin Söderström, a master’s student in Climate Change at UCPH, who is volunteering for it.

”The Northern Run will be scaled down to 5 km, and the Southern Cycle down to 10 km. We’re starting at 16.30 on Saturday 26 September; the runners from Svanemøllen Station, and the cyclists from Copenhagen Central Station. Paris will be scaled down to the Red Square in Nørrebro, where Climate Action Denmark are holding a big event from around 17:00,” says Erik.

The event on Saturday is timed to coincide with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Summit in New York.

Message to politicians

COP21 is an attempt at reaching an agreement. After a succession of perceived failures, including the COP15 of Copenhagen in 2009, there are some hopes that the coming convention will yield an accord. The overall idea is to keep temperature increases down to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Some nations have already submitted proposals, while others are still working on the final drafts of schemes for emission cuts.

”Pole to Paris will have a booth on Saturday. We’ll play messages from the cycling and running activists Erlend and Daniel, and people will get the chance to sign a petition and record messages for the world leaders who meet in Paris. Climate change is an issue now and will become a much bigger concern in the future, but politicians tend to think short-term… it’s the nature of their job,” says Erik Melin Söderström.

”Politicians are also swayed by public opinion so it’s up to us to tell them what we think, and we’ll have a good opportunity on Saturday,” he continues.

”The bike-ride and run are basically going to be a social thing, and a way to show solidarity to the guys on the main mission. Everyone is welcome to join in, all you need is a bike or the ability to jog for five kilometres,” says Erik.

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