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Pedal-powered Christmas tree lights Copenhagen

With international climate change talks a week away, the host city takes its tannenbaum off-grid with a rack of bicycles powering LED lights.

When you're the host city for international climate change negotiations, using energy-efficient LED lights on the Christmas tree apparently isn't enough.

The traditional Christmas tree in Copenhagen's City Hall Square will be powered by people, rather than a distant power plant. The square has been equipped with 15 bicycles which, when pedaled, light up the 700 LED bulbs on the tree.

Staying fit and lighting the night in Copenhagen. Denmark tourism bureau

The 17-meter-high tree went up on Sunday during an opening ceremony in which Saint Nicholas climbed a fire truck ladder to the top of the tree and lit fireworks. Even during the ceremony, the lights were being powered by the bicycles, according to a representative from the city of Copenhagen. Children, a mayor, and international VIPs joined in the pedaling during the opening ceremony, he added.

The carbon-light approach to lighting the traditional Christmas tree is one of the attractions being organized for COP15, the latest round of international climate change talks, which start next week. The purpose of these meetings is to establish treaties to limit the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

Reuters has a list of the commitments under discussion during the negotiation, which include a goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, a "threshold that many scientists see as a threshold for dangerous climate change."

Expectations that there would be a major breakthrough in Copenhagen have been low in part because the U.S. Congress has not been able to pass an energy and climate bill that would limit greenhouse gas emissions. But the past two weeks have seen a number of political twists, summarized here at the New York Times.

All the political jockeying, though, could have a real impact on green technology and innovation. For the most part, green-tech entrepreneurs and investors are not betting on having a hefty price attached to carbon in the immediate future. Rather any climate regulations serve mainly as a signalthat the economic system will find a way to create a financial incentive for technologies that reduce emissions.

Another important topic for discussion in Copenhagen is how green technologies will be transferred to poor countries, writes Earth2Tech.