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    Funding Environmental Education Abroad

    Denmark funds the institution of climate change awareness abroad through a proto-type gaming system for grade school youth

    The Ministry of Climate and Energy in Copenhagen is helping Indian youth learn about climate change through the ‘Copenhagen Challenge’, an innovative new computer game for PCs and mobile phones.

    On 6 February 2009, Students at the Montfort Secondary School in New Delhi got a chance to try out the game financed by the Danish government.

    “Climate change awareness is about understanding what you can do in your own life to reduce the risk of climate change. We are only borrowing the earth from the younger generation, so I want to empower the young to make their own choices”, says Minister Connie Hedegaard in a press release on the ministry’s website.

    Climate change is currently positioned as a kind of challenge of such enormity that it trumps most others. Funding and political support for climate action are seemingly based on the fear that economic stimulus and energy resources may deplete due to global warming, especially in regions of the developing world.

    Organizations such as the Copenhagen Consensus believe these pessimistic assumptions as exaggerated scare tactics that are perhaps motivated by financial gain. The think tank is focused primarily on rational prioritization of global issues based on economic analysis. The project is based on the contention that the money spent on problems like climate change is not sufficient to meet many internationally agreed targets. Emphasis on “rational prioritization” is justified as a corrective to standard practice in international development, where, allegedly, media attention and the “court of public opinion” results in priorities that are often far from the actual good of the majority.

    Organizer of the Danish think tank, Bjorn Lomborg, seeks to establish priorities for advancing global welfare using methodologies based on the theory of welfare economics.

    In the November 8 Wall Street Journal of 2008, Lomborg reminds us of the short comings of his own nations environmental shortcomings.

    Macro policy-making such as the Kyoto Protocol has been supported by an ill-founded perception of impending doom. The framers of Kyoto will ask that the global economy spend $180 billion per year for each year of the coming century mitigating CO2 emissions, with an eventual reduction of global temperature of an almost immeasurable 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit. It is perhaps time to ask if this can really be our first priority and generational mission.

    Concito is another Danish think tank with a less cryptic outlook. In an assessment of Denmark’s commitments to the Kyoto Protocol, a report analyzes Danish strategy for achieving the international agreement on reducing greenhouse gases.

    The conclusion is that Denmark is seriously behind in meeting its objectives. Specifically, Denmark’s annual shortcoming of 7 million tons in CO2 reduction is equivalent to a 35 million ton reduction necessary to reach quota by the 2012 deadline.

    In their 8 February 2009 press release, Concito’s President Martin Gaard Lide says, “This is far worse than I had dreamed about. Allocation based on a very large uncertainty, both in methodology and instruments. There is a high risk that Ireland will end up buying out its CO2 reduction quotas and credits abroad just before closing in 2012. It is an animal and irresponsible climate”.

    After feedback from the Montfort Secondary School students, the videogame funded primarily by Denmark’s Ministry of Climate and Energy will be made by Reliance, India’s largest, national mobile phone operator. Reliance will be preparing the final product for the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.

    “We have already had a lot of interest in the game, including from Bolivia, Vietnam and Denmark. Once the finished version is ready, we expect to look at ways of converting it to other languages/countries. It is also expected to be made available from the COP15 website,” said Dorte Vizard, Press Officer at the Danish Embassy in New Delhi.

    Yet as the ‘Copenhagen Challenge’ has not been released publicly, it is too early to assess the awareness raised.

    by Yo Noguchi

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