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Dispatch from Copenhagen: Dec. 14

Dispatch from Copenhagen: Dec. 14

Editor's note: John Byrne, director of the University of Delaware's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) and co-chair of the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU), is at the international Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. Following is the first in a series of his reports from the summit.

Copenhagen and the Bella Center -- the site of the 2009 global climate change summit -- is reeling with a crush of advocates and organizations converging on the city. The site of the summit can only hold 15,000 and more than 40,000 are gathered outside the building in freezing temperatures trying to enter.

The U.N. is simply overwhelmed by the demand and has tightened security in and around the Bella Center. Despite the contentious day, Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain, professor in the University's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, led the Oceans Day program with distinction and polish. She did an admirable job on a difficult day in the city.

The exponential increase in participation is occurring because of President Obama's Friday speech and the growing numbers of heads of state who are expected to contribute to an agreement. There are 110 confirmed dignitaries and their entourages arriving in the city this week, upping the ante for negotiations. It is a dynamic that will only grow more contentious as leaders arrive at the summit.

The research of the University's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy is extraordinarily timely and relevant. The need to develop low carbon energy options and policies that can produce a transformative change in the energy sector and transportation and land use are critical to the solving the problems addressed at the climate change summit. The direction of CEEP's research is well timed as nations around the world begin to recognize that combining sustainability and climate change are central to achieving a meaningful treaty.

I feel extraordinarily proud and privileged to tell the world about the work of our state and the University of Delaware's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy.

John Byrne served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007. On Dec. 18, he will make a presentation on reducing CO2 emissions and take questions from United Nations government leaders.