We’re Still In?

Tagalano Roa United Nations Climate change conference 2017 Bonn GermanyOn June 1st, President Donald Trump announced that the US would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement. But next week, he’ll be sending the Rex Tillerson’s third-ranking state department official and undersecretary for political affairs, Tom Shannon, to lead the US delegation at a United Nations conference in Germany to work with world leaders on the details of the Paris Agreement’s implementation.

Shannon will be on his way next week to join UN delegates, and representatives from industry, non-profits, universities, Indigenous groups and local governments to hash out the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. Written in 2015, it was signed by 196 countries and so far has been ratified by 169. The only county in the UN that has not signed the agreement is Syria.

It’s difficult to understand the US’s position on climate change. President Trump, during his campaign and while in office has called for our removal from the Paris Agreement. The United States cannot officially withdraw from the treaty until 2020, so the US delegation will be there to negotiate the rules for measuring & tracking emissions. Their delegation will be Huffington Post John Kerry UNFCCC Climate Change Conference Marrakechmuch smaller than last year’s 90 person delegation, led by John Kerry, and they will not host an official US pavilion, which traditionally has been a space to engage with civilians, share relevant NASA or EPA data, and host presentation on how US public and private sector are engaging to combat climate change.  The delegation will mostly be there to protect US interests by ensuring that other countries are being transparent in their reporting methods and actually meeting their commitments.

Many environmental leaders are stepping up to fill the void of a smaller US presence in the conference. We’re Still In is a collaboration of state governors, mayors, CEOs, university presidents and tribal leaders representing about 120 million people (more than a third of the US population) who are committing their governors, mayors, businesses investors and universities global leaders reducing carbon footpringstates, cities, businesses, schools and nations to the Paris Agreement.  They are hosting an unofficial US pavilion, and sponsoring educational seminars and workshops to show the world that at the local level, US citizens are doing something to combat climate change.

Because the Constitution reserves the power of signing international treaties for the Federal government, this commitment is unofficial, and symbolic. But leaders of these groups firmly believe that action on climate change is absolutely necessary from a public health, economic and social justice standpoint. If we don’t act now to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we’ll face rising sea levels, more ferocious extreme weather events- among the likes of Maria and Irma, droughts and heat waves that destroy cropland- and increased migration & conflict around the world.

Caroad2paris USA climate change UNFCCC COP23

Former Mayer Michael Bloomberg (NYC), Gov. Jerry Brown (CA) and other prominent leaders from local governments will be leading the charge at this year’s conference. Both have mobilized private funds to support projects to reduce emissions worldwide. The Paris Agreement calls for $100 billion USD to be raised each year for 5 years, in order to help developing countries pay for the costs of sustainable development investments and rebuild after climate change related flooding or other disasters. Their presence at the conference will be part of a larger conversation going on there, a conversation to better engage those who don’t work in the government: to hear their concerns and use them as a resource to better enforce the Paris Agreement. Through this Facilitative Dialogue, countries will be able discuss what progress has been made since Paris, and ramp up efforts to meet their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

What makes the Paris Agreement unique from past UN climate change treaties is that each country is only hold to what they commit to contributing. So the US isn’t being told they have to pay anyone, our negotiators determined what would be a realistic amount that would fit our budget. The US has also committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% below 2005 levels. This sense of personal responsibility is part of what has inspired cities across the nation to prioritize renewable energy, promote LEED certification or green roofs, and take an audit of their energy consumption and emissions to see where they can become more efficient. Companies are seeing the returns of engaging in corporate social responsibility, not to mention the economic benefits of corporate sustainability policies. It has become clear to open minded leaders in government and industry that movement towards sustainability is not just economically and socially viable, but absolutely necessary for the United States. So let’s stand together and let the rest of the world know that We’re Still In.

By Sarah Voska

 

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, representing Care About Climate. Care About Climate is a 501-C non-profit that works in climate change education and communication. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at careaboutclimate@gmail.com with any questions!

A Nepali Perspective on the IYSECC Conference

On July 8th, I started my journey for a week to China. I was excited to meet lots of friends from different countries. More that that though, I was excited to meet my friends from the Online Youth Exchange program with whom I have talked virtually for more than 9 months- talking on different environmental issues. I was also excited because I was going to attend an international summit discussion on the climate change issues which is one of the major problems to the present world.

There is a no doubt that youth are the one who are and will face the extremes events of climate change and are the one who can act and made a change for better world. With an aims to encourage young people from around the world to get involved in the fight against climate change the international Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change was held from 9th to 12th July 2017 at Tianjin University, China.  This summit was so important to young people like me, because the theme of this program was mainly focused on clothing, food, housing and transportation. The program was mainly focused on how to change our life to sustainable lifestyle contributing to minimize our carbon footprint.

The paramount about program was it was focused on the things that we use in our daily life such as transport, food, and clothes. This program provided an insight to explore the options for young people to made our life standard sustainable. In the present context, one of the major problems of the earth is unsustainable consumption and unmanaged wastes like plastic.  So, this program added an idea to young people to obtain sustainable lifestyle.

Different presentations, presented on the issues of consumption, transportation, green habit, on waste management were very informative. Presentation on Innovative Urban Planning for Low Carbon Transportation presented by different experts was very useful and I got to know about the way to obtain the low carbon transportation and planning. Mainly, they shared the concept about the transportation planning in China such as Transportation Oriented Development which was very much interesting and knowledgeable. Similarly, the presentation on Saying No to Landfills: the green conversion of waste provided an knowledge on the proper waste management for greener environment. The formal and informal discussion with the different like-minded people from different countries and more to Chinese friends has added a strong step to fight against the different environmental issues existing in the world.

Together with this, getting to make new Chinese friends was really nice. Their help and coordination was very much appreciated. The way of development in the city and management was really inspiring.

Online to Offline Youth Exchange Program

Environmental problems are the most pressing issues in the present time all around the world. Every country is facing the different environmental problems such as air pollution, water pollution, unmanaged waste management, climate change etc. With an aim to enhance the capacity of young people, CYCAN and Care about Climate organized a program Online to Offline Youth Exchange program. Being a member of the OYE, I have get a chance to engage and strengthen my network with different youth from globe. To be a part of OYE I felt very lucky. This platform has enhanced my capacity and build a confidence to talk on the different environmental issues and topics. This has helped us to create a strong web network among friends from different countries.

Himalayan Mountains Climate Change Nepal Youth Climate Action Network

During the conference, we seven OYE member, Amalen (Malaysia), Mohamed (Egypt), Jasmita (Nepal) including Cheery and Yirui from China participated. The support and coordination of Sarah from Care about Climate and Echo from CYCAN was much appreciated. We seven participated and facilitated the session on “International Cooperation and Youth Action”. In this session, Sarah presented her story on how she inspired to get engaged with environment, Mohamed and Jasmita also shared their journey working on climate change issues in their countries. Amalen facilitated on game which engaged all the participants. I presented on the impact of climate change in Nepal. The session was mainly focused on how to engage the youths in international cooperation for climate action. The half day session was ended with the distribution of certificate of Online to Offline Youth Exchange Program.

By Pradeep

Pradeep is a founding partner of Smart Ltd, an environmental consulting firm and former network director of Nepalese Youth for Climate Action. He lives in Kathmandu and has a Master’s degree in Environmental Science.  Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change.