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Hopenhagen: A City in a Cloak of Hope

By Dr. Orr Karassin

COPENHAGEN (Dec. 14, 2009) — In honor of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, the city of Copenhagen had an especially optimistic ambiance. Despite the optimism, it could be said that the conference planners miscalculated in bringing the world's policy makers and the decade's most important conference on global warming to the Danish frost. Situating this conference in the Sahara desert may have resulted in a less amiable conference — but a more effective one.


While the heated, official discussions stopped for a break on Sunday, life in the city continued to bustle in an especially environmental way. For the Danes, the largest political conference in their country provided an opportunity to turn their capital into a display of advanced environmental technologies, particularly in the field of transportation. In the city center, electric car manufacturers, assembled in an open-air exhibition, complete with manufacturers' explanations.


Shai Agassi's Israeli corporation Better Place exhibited near Copenhagen City Hall illustrating how the world is creating different variations of the electric-car movement. One interesting example is the Move About company, which is among the first electric car-sharing initiatives in Europe, aiming to reduce toxic emission by simply reducing the number of cars on the road.


The BMW Hydrogen Seven, defined as a commercial vehicle, is fueled by liquid hydrogen cooled to -253ºC. When driven it emits only water. One hundred such cars already have been manufactured and distributed in several countries. Andreas Klugescheid, BMW spokesperson, said that "there are still technological hurdles that the company will overcome to produce a commercial car on a large scale in three to five years, such as the hydrogen fuel tank, which is made of cast metal rather than plastic; the insulation of the liquid hydrogen from the rest of the car; the accumulated pressure in the fuel tank which must be released every few days; and the deployment of hydrogen fuel stations."


Visitors to the city center may choose to experience a "conference cab" — a multi-wheeled round bicycle that enables those cycling on it to converse on a sort of roundtable while traveling. One may imagine that it is difficult to cycle in circles, but it is certainly a very social option for those who feel solitary when cycling.


The Greenpeace ship also arrived in Copenhagen, anchoring in the famous Nyhavn Canal next to many old fishing boats that regularly anchor there and, despite the large poster between its masts warning about global warming, the ship blended rather well with the local scenery.


The city offered several open-air art exhibitions on themes of sustainability, environment and climate.


The city of Copenhagen is now decked in the hope that the world leaders will negotiate until the forthcoming global agreement on carbon-emission cuts is completed. Only an ambitious and binding agreement will give the world the hope it so desperately needs.




Dr. Orr Karassin is a former Green Zionist Alliance representative to the board of directors of Jewish National Fund in Israel and an advisory board member of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism.



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