During the December climate negotiations, a team from WWF will have an ‘Arctic Tent’ on a main Copenhagen square and we have invited lots of people to help tell the stories of arctic climate change.
In front of the tent, we have a life sized polar bear carved from ice, created by renowned wildlife sculptor, Mark Coreth, and we have a stunning outdoor exhibit by some of the top photographers working in the Arctic today.
By Clive Tesar
So you’re sitting in front of your computer reading this and wondering “so it looks fine from here, but how many people are really paying attention to what is going on?”
That is admittedly a tricky question to answer without conducting huge surveys, so I’m going to try without that trouble and expense. One measure of what we’re achieving is simply to count the people who’ve come to listen to our events here in the tent. In fact we do not even have to count them – our caterers, ‘the a la menthe’, who’ve been serving people with coffee and mint tea say they serve about 1,000 cups a day, so we figure that is likely a bit less than the total number of people who drop in.
These people are all sorts, from local people just taking a break from shopping, to delegates from other countries attracted by the programming. Outside the tent, whole school groups gather at the arctic climate photo display with their teachers, and literally thousands of people have taken photographs of the Ice Bear sculpture.
There is also a steady stream of media, from all over the world – radio from Canada, radio from Sweden, television from Indonesia and Brussels, and many more. One really stands out from the regular crowd of journalists. Chances are, if you are not Chinese you have never heard of Li Bingbing, but in China, she is a sensation, an actress whose every move is followed by millions. Right now, she is lending her lustre to the WWF cause, working as a celebrity interviewer here in Copenhagen, and sending the resulting interviews back home to China. Yesterday it was my turn to get the star treatment. I also invited along some young people from arctic Canada to be interviewed, as part of our mission this week to provide a stage for ‘arctic voices’.
Bingbing was very gracious, enduring the Copenhagen cold to make sure we got the Ice Bear sculpture in the background, and spending several minutes interviewing all of us. She told me later that she has just started a blog. After two months she already has 300,000 readers.
So while we may not ever know exactly what impact we have had on the deal being negotiated here, we do know that that many hundreds of thousands of people are being touched, directly or indirectly by our message of the urgency of a climate deal for the Arctic.