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COP15: The grand opening

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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

It seemed grand to me anyway – the culmination of more than a year of planning, the WWF Arctic Tent opened today. The audience, a mixture of the curious and the committed, heard stirring words from the speakers today – starting with Kim Carstensen, WWF’s climate spokesperson, who told the audience that the states gathered here must step up their pledges to cut emissions if they hope to keep world temperatures at levels considered reasonably safe.

United Nations Environment Programme spokesperson John Christiansen echoed Cartstensen’s call for ambition. Following him, Jacquie McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environmental Agency gave the audience the hard and uncomfortable facts about arctic climate change – at a rate of warming twice that of the rest of the world, the Arctic stands no chance of survival in anything like its present from without urgent and drastic cuts in emissions.

While the speakers had an attentive audience, they were not the only draw on the day – the biggest star was probably the ice bear, completed by the team of carvers immediately before the tent opening, all day and well into the night people gathered around the bear, some just looking, others patting its already dripping flanks. From there, they have poured into the tent in a steady stream, some to pick up the scientific reports on arctic climate change, others just to sit and watch the movies that run on the tent’s big screen, and read the posters.

Tomorrow the programme proper starts with a who’s who of arctic climate science – join us live if you can in Nytorv Square, Copenhagen, or on here if you can’t. Meanwhile, have a look at our gallery of photos from the opening below.

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