Helpful Resources: COP15 and Beyond

"COP15" is an acronym built on yet another acronym: the 15th "Conference of the Parties" under the UNFCCC, aka the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. With a bit of Web-surfing, it's fairly easy to get beyond the alphabet soup and gain a working knowledge of the key COP15 issues that world leaders are negotiating – and to understand what's at stake. Though the issues are complex and often technical, the resources listed here do a good job of boiling them down into nonspecialist terms. They feature comprehensive, up-to-date information on international climate action and global warming, as well as specific COP15 debates and proposed solutions. In addition, many offer daily or weekly e-newsletters for staying up to date on the issues, as well as advice for lowering one's personal or business carbon footprint.

Green Detectives

This locally based site is a good starting point for anyone just tuning in to basic COP15 terminology and issues. Be sure to visit the Green Detectives Decoder page, where Austinites Kevin Tuerff and Valerie Davis give short and sweet explanations on video of key issues and terminology (cap and trade, technology transfer, etc.) – with nice graphics to boot.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

This is the official United Nations website for the international climate change treaty. It has helpful material and links for the layperson, including a basic primer called Feeling the Heat and a Virtual Participation in COP15 page with links to interactive content on Facebook, Twitter, etc. The site also provides much denser information targeted at government staffers with policy or technical responsibilities related to COP15. Those wanting to drill deep can find the full COP15 conference program, with side events, exhibits, and background data on climate science. The site also links to Denmark's rich host-country website for COP15.

'The Guardian'

This national British newspaper and online news source has consistently provided excellent general news coverage of climate news and issues. The site's Copenhagen page is rich in COP15 articles accessible to beginners, and as COP15 continues to unfold, it will be a good source for news on breaking developments. Especially valuable is The Guardian's UK and European perspective; its comprehensive reporting and analysis are often notably superior to U.S. coverage and sometimes revelatory on American denial and other political foibles. The Guardian's main voices on climate issues online are reporters Nicholas Stern and George Monbiot; another is The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert. Recommended reading: "Q&A: Copenhagen climate summit," "The countries to watch," "Copenhagen jargon buster," and "The beginners' guide to the Copenhagen climate conference negotiating text."


This self-dubbed "beacon in the smog" provides news and commentary on the politics of U.S. climate action, often with a humorous or irreverent perspective. (A recent post features a video of supermodels willing to "take it off for climate change.") Grist's Climate Citizens project keeps track of U.S. lawmakers' views and actions on climate change and interest groups working privately and publicly (on both sides) to shape legislation and policy.


In the interest of "driving sustainability mainstream," TreeHugger is a one-stop shop not just for COP15 coverage but for news, solutions, and product information with an upbeat take on "how to maintain or improve your quality of life while reducing your harmful impact on the earth." (A recent fun post gives a sense of the approach; it features the Brazilian YouTube video "Pee in the Shower. Save the Rainforest.")

Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature Network is a great source for news and COP15 coverage, plus ideas and advice applicable to going green. Technology blogger Karl Burkart (a fellow journalist from my Royal Danish Embassy study trip to Copenhagen) will be blogging his engaging perspective daily from COP15.

Environmental Leader

Environmental Leader focuses on corporate sustainability and green business opportunities. Notable articles include "Seizing the Reins on Sustainability," by Maurice Berns and Michael Hopkins, and "10 Climate Change Actions I'd Like to See by Tomorrow," by Kevin Tuerff of Green Detectives.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

  • More of the Story

  • Austin@COP15

    Local participants, activists in Denmark for U.N. climate summit
  • On the Case

    The Green Detectives

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Katherine Gregor
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Checking in on the Climate Protection Program's progress – or lack thereof

Aug. 6, 2010

Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Study predicts how climate change will affect Texas' future water needs

July 30, 2010

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle