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NM Eyes and Ears Head to Copenhagen for Climate Conference

November 30, 2009

SANTA FE, N.M. - A week from today, the eyes of the world will focus on Copenhagen, Denmark, and the historic climate change summit being held there. A few New Mexicans will attend it in person. One is Ken Hughes, conservation director for the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. He says his goal is to witness the proceedings and bring back a full report.

"This is the mother of all environmental challenges - the climate change we've experienced already here in New Mexico with the big droughts is kind of a shade of things to come. Anything we can do to stave off that sort of a future is worth doing."

Any agreement that comes out of Copenhagen could benefit New Mexico, Hughes says, especially if it increases demand for solar, wind or geothermal power.

According to Hughes, international agreements on climate change have been elusive because developing countries like China have continued to increase their carbon output. He says he hopes the United States and other nations will look at new ways to encourage clean energy in the developing world.

"Developing countries can skip right over our polluting bad habits to a clean energy future in a very, very short period of time, with the funding that can come through the United Nations."

Hughes says institutions like the World Bank also can play a major role in pushing the rest of the developing world in a "green" direction, to create less climate-changing pollution.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference runs Dec. 7-18. Hughes will share his views about the process and his experiences in Copenhagen at two public events to be held in January.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM