April 18, 2008
Well ahead of next fall's international climate conference in Denmark, Danish government, business and research leaders are making plans for meetings that could result in a new worldwide environmental treaty.
Denmark will be the site of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) to the Kyoto Protocol, and its universities are working to marshal their expertise on climate change to provide research to conference attendees, said Ellen Basse, a professor at the Danish University of Aarhus, who is coordinating climate change initiatives at the school.
“The Danish government, and everyone in Denmark, is talking about climate change,” she told a group of Georgia State University law professors during a recent luncheon.
Basse was visiting the College of Law for two weeks this semester as a part of a course organized by the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth. Two other professors have already visited for two-week stints to provide insight into how their countries' environmental and land use laws are structured and applied.
Solange Teles visited from the State University of the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil, and Daniel Bonilla visited from the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.
Basse has worked previously on European Union regulations harmonizing member nations' environmental laws. She's currently working in the central office of the University of Aarhus overseeing climate change initiatives that include drafting a new curriculum on the topic for Danish high schoolers and developing programs for college students.
The country has worked to position itself as a leader in alternative fuels technology. Denmark has long-standing tradition of windmill use – accounting for about 18 percent of all power production in 2001, according to government accounts – and Aarhus University, for example, is the home of the world's largest experimental biogas facility, producing energy from agricultural waste products.
During her class here, Basse taught students about European Union and Danish growth management laws, and how they stack up against American regulations.
“The idea behind these courses is that students benefit deeply from comparative law study,” says Professor Colin Crawford, co-director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth. “We offer a variety of different approaches to land use and environmental law and they then tend to come back and look at U.S. law and regulations with fresh eyes, understanding that there are many ways to address the same problems. This tends to spur legal innovation and creative thinking,” he said.