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Copenhagen Climate Change Conference Underway

Professor Jack Manno assesses impact and chances for success

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Q. What is the meeting going on in Denmark?

A. It is an historic moment with well over a hundred heads of state coming together and grappling with a determining point in our history, whether or not we will deal with the climate crisis.

Q. Often the outcome is predetermined at major conferences like this, is that the case with the climate change summit?

A. In this case, we really don't know what's going to come out of this conference. There are a number of possibilities. The overall framework was actually set back in 1992 when an agreement was reached requiring the developed countries to take the lead in reducing carbon emissions and helping the under-developed countries with technology transfers and moving to new, green technology. The main thing is a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 2050 by 50-percent from 1992 levels which is equal to about 58-percent of current levels. Now, how those reductions are allocated amongst the countries of the world, that's where the conflict is.

Q. Who's the biggest emitter of carbon emissions?

A. Most responsible for the carbon that is in the air is the United States. The current producer of the most CO2 is China.

Q. What can one person do to help?

A. The things we are already doing to live greener, to be environmentally responsible by reducing the energy used in our homes, changing our diets …

Q. Can one person really make a difference?

A. No, but one person can inspire ten people to join in the effort and those ten influence another ten and so on eventually reaching numbers that do make a difference.