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The Winds of Change
by Bidisha Banerjee

I nearly impaled myself on a single giant windmill blade, more than 200 feet long, as I stumbled into the Bella Centre complex in Copenhagen two days after the start of the international climate negotiations.

Wind is powering the frenetic activities at the Centre, the convergence point for more than 15,000 people. Amidst an ocean of black and grey business suits, spots of color stand out: Buddhist monks in orange robes mingle with Danish workers wearing red shirts made out of recycled bottles and a ubiquitous delegation of orange-shirted youth.

Many of the youths wear t-shirts proclaiming: "Don't Bracket Our Future" and asking, "How old will you be in 2050?"

Color-codes are immensely powerful here - pink badges (U.N. representatives) get into the closed negotiation sessions while yellow badges (NGOs and observers) speculate wildly about the different negotiating texts at play.

There is a vast array of side-events for the yellow badges to choose from. One enterprising youth, Oliver Bruce, continuously tweets about events with free food. Speculation over the controversial "Danish text" negotiating strategy commands attention one day, Tuval's stand-off with China the next, leading a brief suspension of the official negotiating process. "This is highly unusual," an NGO veteran of the COP advises. In packed conference rooms, the air temperature noticeably rises as people from all over the world heatedly discuss what it all means - the Danes have yet to figure out how to capture the waste heat in the rooms and use it to power the conference center.

Bidisha Banerjee is in her first year as a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

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December 14, 2009