University Post
University of Copenhagen
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Quirky music livened up ministers debate

Prorector Lykke Friis was in fine form, dealing out a yellow card warning to a long-winded response

While the subject of the climate change debate between five foreign ministers Thursday morning at the University of Copenhagen was dead serious, the tone was lively.

By 8:45 a.m. about 20 people had already showed up to get front-row seats for the debate. As Queen’s “Bicycle Race” and Helen Boulding’s “Copenhagen” echoed through loudspeakers, security guards manned the front doors and dogs sniffed attendees. By the time the event started, 150-200 people speaking a cacophony of languages had crowded in to the Ceremonial Hall to hear the speech.

See story: Climate deal in danger.

The background music leading up to the discussion was an odd mix for a debate on climate change. As if predicting doom for the world’s climate, REM’s ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It,’ was played along with Glenn Frey’s ‘The Heat is On.’ As the ministers walked into the auditorium, Swedish rock band Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ played, possibly in reference to the eleventh hour talks being made before the climate change conference.

Let the people speak

»No deal or new deal? Copenhagen or Hopenhagen.«

So started Prorector Lykke Friis, who used a combination of football analogies and standard debate procedures to moderate the discussion. Friis was armed with yellow and red cards to give to speakers who went past their limits. French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner was the only person to receive a penalty, a yellow card for his winded response to an audience question.

Audience members and the questions they asked were varied.

Katherine Richardson, a driving force behind keeping politicians up-to-date about key findings in climate change for the conference and vice dean at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, asked why there hasn’t been a European leader who has stepped up to become a spokesperson for climate change. Miliband replied that European leaders have instead all been »boringly united,« and should turn that unity into leverage.

In another audience question, a Greenpeace worker criticized the EU for not showing enough leadership, nor discussing finance as part of the deal. Sweden’s Carl Bildt disagreed, adding that the EU is the only part of the world actually moving. More can be done, but »Europe has shown more leadership than anywhere in the world,« he said.

A retired nuclear physicist asked how nuclear energy fit into the climate change agreement. Bildt, whose country has been in support of nuclear energy, lightly said that »it was very nice to hear Danes specifically in favour of nuclear power,« given that Denmark officially does not support it.

Parting gift

On a final optimistic note, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller spoke about how doing many small things can make a big difference in climate change.

»We can move forward by taking the low-hanging fruits,« he said, adding that »lots of things can be done very easily«.

Nicknaming the ministers ‘The fabulous five,’ Friis ended the conference by giving the ministers Danish national team bike jerseys.

The loudspeakers were pumped up the music to the Beatles’ ‘Baby you can drive my car.’