Hello from Cassidy the Intern

Hello! I’m Cassidy and I’m an intern here at Care About Climate. I’m currently in my second year at Saint Louis University, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Political Science. To me, the passion I have for our Earth is inseparable from my future career. It is inseparable from my being.

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I’ve spent the majority of my life in Miami, Florida, where my parents passively instituted a love of nature in me early on. For vacations, we always went to National Parks and hiked as a family. At home, the ocean acted as another part of our family. My father had always wanted to be a marine biologist, and my little brother is currently pursuing that path. We went boating and fishing whenever we could, always with a deep respect for our ability to do so. I only realized how influential this was when I got to college and was able to truly discern how important the environment is to me. I was a huge activist in high school, but I spread my vigor across various subject areas; college was the first time I recognized how all-encompassing my love for the environment is. Now, I plan to make it apart of what I do, whether I end up in politics or conservation, which are my goals. I set my ideals to our National Parks or the United Nations if I could achieve everything I’d ever want.
Care About Climate has allowed me to expand upon two of my largest interests: climate change, policy, and—most importantly—the interactions between the two. In addition to consumer awareness, I believe policy is the path to sustainability and addressing climate change. Education is a long-term strategy that I believe will pay off, but the movement needs enforcement and needs it soon. Multi-national corporations, consumerism, and disconnect from the origins of our lifestyles serve as the biggest catalysts to climate change. While the latter two are societal perspectives that require a shift in thinking, the contributions major companies have to environmental degradation can be controlled with better policy. This is true for grassroots issues and efforts as well as overarching international problems. Across the country, local and international unity on environmental causes have prompted action from a globalized system that won’t have mercy without our push for it. Care About Climate expands on this ideology. Working for Care About Climate allows me to promote a message that works to harness the power of the people to demand change.
Both Care About Climate and I believe in the inherit bond we all have as humans inhabiting and living off of the Earth; it’s fundamental to the health of us all to come together in our battle for a more sustainable world. We need to carry out our hopes with confidence and consensus. My time here aims to further this idea.

 

Meet the COP 22 Delegation

In 1992 Rio hosted an Earth Summit, and at this summit they created the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC. Since then, countries meet each year to advance international climate policy at the Conference of the Parties (COP). Last year, at COP 21, countries created the Paris Agreement, which is the first significant climate agreement since the Kyoto Protocol. This agreement is different though. This is the first time major countries like the United States and China have committed to reducing their greenhouse gases in a tangible way. At COP 22 countries will come together to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and Care About Climate will be there to promote ambitious greenhouse gas reduction, support loss and damage, and advocate for climate finance for developing countries. We will also be working with other groups to promote the Climate Sign. Meet our delegates, and you can follow our travels on this blog.

Natalie Lucas

Natalie is the founder and CEO of Care About Climate. She is a recent graduate from the Universi14691325_10210594939013703_45322702835571936_oty of Arizona with a Masters in Development Practice. Natalie has attended and led youth delegations to four UN Climate Negotiations, or COPs, and has been advocating for climate action internationally and domestically throughout her professional career. Throughout her adventures she has worked on significant sustainability projects at the University of Arizona such as community gardens and waste diversion programs, has done research in Indonesia and Namibia related to conservation and forestry, and has worked collaboratively with youth around the world to help support climate action projects with Care About Climate. She believes that with collaboration we can achieve anything, and Natalie works to build bridges to make this happen.

She is excited to go to COP to connect with more groups to make climate action a priority for the world.

Leah Edwards

Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Leah Edwards is a young professional currently working at an investment management firm in San Francisco. She was one of the founding board members of Care About Climate, and is passionate about increasing awareness of climate change and encouraging sustainable20150721Leah-Edwards-lwvsf001-edit practices. She also serves on the Board of the League of Women Voters San Francisco, and helps develop the curriculum for a Financial Literacy program at San Quentin State Prison. In college, Leah was involved in many sustainability initiatives as a chairperson for Students for Sustainability and through her internship with the NASA Space Grant Consortium. In her spare time, Leah enjoys traveling, and has worked as an intern at the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and volunteered at the Maya Mountain Research Farm in rural Belize.

I am excited to attend COP because I believe that individuals acting together can change the world, and that COP is an incredible opportunity for people across borders to come together and take action on climate change.

Nick Jones

Howdy. My name is Nick Jones and I hail from Flagstaff, Arizona. I have degrees in hydrology and history from the University of Arizona. I have worked in both public and private sectors, most notably for Uber and the Arizona State Senate. My long term goal is to work in Washington to bring environmental policies to fruition that also spur our economic growth by putting people back toIMG_8952 work in the green sector. One of the most dangerous premises today is separating the human world from the natural world. The typical human being’s day-to-day interaction with the environment is not in a meadow or forest; it’s walking down a side-walk or in a transit vehicle, hustling through the activities of daily life.

As a co-founder of Care about Climate I have the pleasure and honor of serving as Chair of the board.  I ensure information and opinions are making their way up from the officers, and that proposed programs are tempered by the combined experience and knowledge of the board. That way our organization can put forth the best and most efficient programs, optimizing our resources. Seeing Care about Climate reach this milestone of participating in COP and being able to send a delegation are the greatest reward I could imagine for my time with this nonprofit. It has given me a platform to advocate for our positions, and, more importantly, to be able to learn from my global peers.

Climate change is an excellent example of what happens when global issues arise that force us to stop acting individually and bring us together to learn and to act as one. COP represents an opportunity to do this, and I look forward to participating.

Sarah Voska

DSC_0739My name is Sarah Voska, I’m 21 years old and from the Chicago suburbs. I’m currently living in Londrina, Brazil volunteering with the youth group of a local church. I am a Junior Sustainable Management major at University of Wisconsin, completing my bachelor’s degree completely online. The program’s nature has allowed me the opportunity to travel and gain a different perspective on environmental policy and social issues in Latin America. My career goals include working with municipal government in South America to work towards sustainable development.  I am fluent in Spanish and conversational in Portuguese. I hope to brush up on some French preceding my time in Morocco (unless I manage to learn Arabic!!) I think that food is the most basic way that we interact with our environment, and enjoy cooking, and reading books about food & the environment. In my free time I like to learn languages and practice martial arts.

My role with Care About Climate is coordinating the Online Youth Exchange/ Climate Ambassador’s Program. OYE is a cross between a “penpal” and a professional development network for youth environmental activists (ages 16-30) that pairs students from around the world to discuss environmental issues and receive trainings on community activism and specific environmental topics like climate change, pollution, and alternative energies. This year, we have 70 participants from 30 countries around the world. The goal is to create a platform for student activists to connect and develop strategies to promote change on a campus and global level.  During COP, we hope to reach out to youth organizations from around the world to expand the program, and eventually use the program as a way to connect the policy proposals of our participants to working papers and progress in the COY space.

I’m excited for COP because I believe that the world’s citizens have much more in common than that which separates us. As a collective group, through citizen diplomacy, we can make an impact on how the world will look for future generations.

Nick McCreary

Nick PhotoNick McCreary grew up in Tampa and Dallas. Nick received a B.S. in Geology from DePauw University. Currently, he is a graduate student at Saint Louis University working towards an M.S. in Sustainability. At SLU Nick is a Sustainability Coordinator – Graduate Assistant and runs various programs and initiatives including an energy competition and a sustainability focused student group. At DePauw Nick started an athletics recycling program, focusing on tailgate waste diversion. Nick has worked with St. Louis EarthDay as a recycling ambassador and The Missouri Botanical Garden as a sustainability education intern. Nick is passionate about sustainability in higher education, sustainability in collegiate and professional sports, and local food system sustainability. In his spare time, he enjoys being active, cooking, and watching the Texas Rangers.

We will post updates during the conference, and you can keep up with our delegates here.

Get Involved- Internship and Volunteer Opportunities

This fall Care About Climate is launching a #Vote4Climate campaign, and we will be building out our Climate Ambassador Program. We are looking to talented volunteers and interns to help lead these initiatives.

vote_for_climateVote for Climate– This is an initiative to register voters that care about climate. If voters are already registered they can unite with other voters to stand for climate action with the #ClimateSign. For more information on the Climate Sign visit ClimateSign.org.

Volunteer Application

Operations Intern

Media Intern

Applications due August 1st

Climate Ambassadors- The Climate Ambassadors program engages local groups and individuals at the grassroots level to unite communities for climate action, and to support projects that mitigate greenhouse gases or help communities adapt to climate change.

Climate Ambassador Intern Application

Applications due August 20th

If you have any questions please contact Natalie Lucas at nrlucas@careaboutclimate.org.

This Earth Day, the World Will be “Signing” On for Climate Action

This Earth Day, world leaders will gather in New York to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement that was negotiated last December in France. However, world leaders will not be the only ones signing on. People from around the world will raise the Climate Sign to unite for climate action, and show that they are holding their world leaders accountable.

ClimateSignonTowerDuring the two weeks leading up to Earth Day, April 22nd, a group of organizations including Care About Climate, Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Central, and others, will be asking people around the world to metaphorically “sign” the Paris Agreement by raising Climate Sign.

“By uniting together as individuals, we are committing ourselves to finding climate solutions, but we are also showing our neighbors, friends, family, community, and world leaders that we want climate action now, and we need to work together to make the change we need to see,” states Natalie Lucas, the Executive Director of Care About Climate.

Individuals and organizations can go to SignTheAgreement.org to post a photo raising the climate sign, or post directly to their social media with the #climatesign. These photos will collectively show the diversity of support for climate action.

“With tens of thousands of submissions from individuals around the world, we can demonstrate that there is international momenParisAgreement_#1tum for climate action, and that climate change is a challenge that takes collaboration and expertise from all sectors of our global community,” reports Hadley Greswold, the founder of ClimateSign.org. She continues, “As the effects of climate change are felt around the world, we want leaders in New York to feel the necessity and pressure for action.”

To participate, individuals and groups can submit their Climate Sign photos at SignTheAgreement.org, or use the #climatesign to tag their photo.

 

Expanding the Tools for the Movement

Care About Climate was created to unite people around climate action with a climate symbol, similar to the peace sign for the nuclear disarmament movement in the seventies, and it has been working. People around the world have been using the climate symbol to show they want climate action now!

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During the UN Climate Conference in Paris, France we met another group, ClimateSign.org, that was working on a similar initiative, except they had a hand sign. It became clear to us that we could work together to give tools to the movement that would enable individuals around the world to unite for climate action.

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As of March 2016 ClimateSign.org has officially joined forces with Care About Climate to help connect communities around climate action with the climate symbol and hand sign. Information about these tools as well as a photo gallery will be hosted on www.climatesign.org, and on www.careaboutclimate.org you will be able to find information about the specific projects and initiatives we are working on as an organization.

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Similarly, photos and media about the Climate Sign tools (image and hand sign) can be found on the ClimateSign.org Facebook Page, on Twitter @ClimateSign, and on Instagram. Organizational information, initiatives, and photos will also be shared on Care About Climate’s Facebook Page, on Twitter @CareAboutClimate, and on Instagram. The majority of changes will occur behind-the-scenes, though you may notice some additions to our online presence and changes in our image in the coming weeks.

Our mission and goals will remain focused on empowering communities to take action to mitigate greenhouse gases and adapt in the face of climate change. Lucky for us, we now have a bigger, more diverse team to find success in these goals.
That is about it! Watch out for changes listed above on both CareAboutClimate.org and ClimateSign.org as we roll out a unified visual message. If you are interested in joining our team and have not already, sign up to receive updates and merchandise to spread #climatesign around the world. If you want to bring Care About Climate materials and efforts to your community, sign up to receive information about being a Climate Ambassador. Together we can inspire communities and countries to Act On Climate. Raise the #climatesign and become a part of the team!

Vote For Climate :: A Care About Climate Project

This November, new policies and politicians will be decided in all levels of government throughout the United States. We need to make climate change action a priority, and show we care about climate.

Unite with others for climate action with the Climate Sign, and #Vote4Climate. Get your free climate sign sticker HERE!.

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We are asking volunteers to help us register voters, and to pass out Climate Sign stickers to climate voters for we can unite for climate action! To volunteer to help with this campaign please visit Internship and Volunteer Opportunities.

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We Have A Climate Agreement…. Now What?

On December 12, 2015 nations came together to sign the Paris Agreement. This is a new climate agreement that was designed to get nations to reduce their greenhouse gases and prevent further global warming. This agreement is revolutionary because all countries within the United Nations have to participate, and it outlines a process to attempt to keep global warming on average well below 1.5 degrees celsius.

So, what is this process? Essentially, nations agreed that they would submit pledges every five years to reduce emissions, and it is up to individual countries to fulfill those commitments through domestic policy with the help of international finance and aid, if needed. This allows individual nations to make policy decisions that make sense for them, while trying to collectively prevent a big problem. The catch is that they either need to keep their current pledges, or they need to up the ante and pledge more each time they submit their commitments.

Although this is a great first step, it is not going to get us to where we need to be without domestic action, organizing, and voting. The agreement is only as good as the pledges and policies that the countries make individually, and the pledges that the countries made in 2015 will still lead to a 3 degree celsius world.

We need to do more, much more, and it will be up to us to make that happen. We need to work locally to develop projects that mitigate greenhouse gas production, we need to elect politicians that care about climate change, and we need to advocate and vote for policies that help support a just transition to a clean energy economy. It will take all of us together to get this done.

This year is a particularly important year because we have the opportunity to take this agreement and demand action now. In the United States there will be an election that will determine the amount of resources, time, and effort that is given to address climate change by the US government. It will be critical to elect a president that cares about climate change, and will uphold what we promised to do in the Paris Agreement. It is up to you to get involved, vote for climate, and encourage others to do the same.

To start, you can show that you care about climate and that you want others to care about climate with the climate symbol. Help get the conversation about climate change started in your neighborhood, on your campus, and in your community. We need to show that we want action on climate change now! Get your free climate symbol stickers here.

If you would like to help in our Vote for Climate campaign email careaboutclimate@gmail.com.

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The End is Just the Beginning

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The past week has felt like the longest waiting game that has ever been played. As high level ministers talked behind closed doors, we were diligently working to influence the process in whatever way that we could from social media, to press conferences, to direct discussions with negotiating staff about the agreement. We even participated in a few actions within the conference space to let negotiators, and the world, know what we wanted in the agreement. Finally, on Saturday representatives from 196 countries came together in the plenary halls to declare that they had come to an agreement.

This is a historic moment. This is the first time that the global community has come together to create a process to address global climate change that does not just fall on developed nations (although they must do more because they are historically more responsible for emission production), but falls upon everyone everywhere to act on climate, and that is an exciting prospect. All nations agreed that they need to keep global warming on average well below 2℃, in fact they want to aim for 1.5℃ or below in order to protect low-lying islands and desert regions. This means that they will have to phase out of fossil fuels, and keep current reserves in the ground if they want to stay below these targets according to science, which was mentioned in the agreement to happen by the end of the century at the latest.

They also agreed that they would submit pledges every five years that will be monitored, reported, and verified to make sure that countries are complying with what they say they will do. This will be accompanied with finance and support for projects that help with mitigation and adaptation to climate change as well as reparations that are associated with the losses and damages to climate change. Finally, for the first time in international environmental law there are references to equity language such as human rights, gender, and intergenerational equity (future generations), indigenous rights, health, migrants, and persons in vulnerable situations, which links this environmental concern directly to individuals that will be impacted. Many of these ideas are innovative, and it is incredible that we have moved so fast and so far in international climate policy in a few short years, and a lot of it had to do with the global movement that we have created.

In the past couple years the world has demanded that countries take action on climate change from the People’s Climate March, to major religions expressing direct requests for action, to local movements that are getting campuses, cities, and churches to divest. The tides are changing, and people are demanding that the threat of climate change is addressed immediately in just ways.

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Now more than ever it will be important to keep up this momentum, and hold our governments accountable to taking significant steps to addressing climate change as is outlined in this agreement. We need to go home and push our governments to develop plans to uphold their end of the bargain, and push them to do more than they think they can by creating the political will to do so from the grassroots. This is an exciting time for all of us, and it is amazing what we can accomplish when we decide that we need to address something. It is clear now that this is not the end of our work, but only the beginning to decarbonize our future, create just transitions, and prevent warming in order to protect the most vulnerable among us. This is a matter of protecting lives and livelihoods so take this moment, and build momentum from it for our communities, our countries, and our planet.

Week 2: The World Is Ready For Action

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Photo taken by Greenpeace and was a collaboration of groups that put the action together.

The second week of the UN Climate Negotiations is underway. The hallways are bustling, small group meetings are happening throughout the space mumbling about the policy and climate justice, and ministers from all over the world are gathering together to look at the first draft of the Paris Agreement that is to be finalized at the end of the week. You may be wondering what happened the first week and where we are now, well I will tell you.

Last week negotiators were hard at work getting a 54 page text down to 38 pages. That does not sound like much, but they also worked through many of the brackets. Brackets are words that are literally in brackets in the policy, which means they are still being negotiated. The text went from 1700 brackets to 900 brackets this week, and started filtering through some of the options for the policy. Things still up for discussion include the temperature goal (staying below 1.5°C or 2°C global warming on average), the long-term goal (decarbonizing by 2060-2080), finance, frequency of review of country pledges (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) and process for that review, equity language, adaption and capacity building support, and loss and damage as a stand alone policy point. So there is still a lot to get through in the next week, and ministers will have to work through many of these issues to get a deal by Friday.

Civil society, or citizens and non-governmental groups, will be there along the way. Throughout the week, and today, they will be making a lot of noise through media, lobbying, direct action, and civil disobedience. People from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and many organizations are concerned about the outcome of these talks and will have their voice be heard.

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This year civil society even has their own space, which has never happened at a COP before, due to the demand for space within the conference. This civil society area is called the climate generations area, and it is open to the public. Several sessions and the plenaries are broadcasted on monitors throughout the space. It is not a replacement for being able to go into the actual negotiating space, but it does give a place where people can meet and talk about how they can collaborate and show support for climate action in the UN climate talks.

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Finally, there are many more conferences, actions, and events happening throughout Paris where big names like Bill McKibben, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall, Helen Clark and others are raising the importance of the issue of climate change. The topics vary significantly within these side events. For example, the World Health Organization held a summit this weekend on health and climate change, CGIAR held the Global Landscapes Forum to talk about the connection between landscapes and climate, mayors came together to make commitments for climate action locally, and there have been training sessions for young organizers so they can learn how they can get involved with the climate movement.

The energy and excitement is high around this conference, and no matter what the outcome is for the Paris agreement, the tide has shifted and the world wants to face this issue head on.

As for me, I have been writing articles, working on social media, and trying to build support for climate action around the world by collaborating with various groups. I specifically focus on protecting equity language in the agreement, which includes human rights, gender and women, indigenous rights, labor, future generations, and food security, in addition to generally putting pressure on countries to put us down the right path to less than a 1.5°C global warming on average world. This morning I did a press conference, representing the Sierra Student Coalition, with the Chinese Youth Climate Action Network to demand ambitious action within the Paris Agreement from the two largest greenhouse gas contributors (shown below). There is too much to do with so little time, but it is exciting that there is so much going on. The next week will be interesting, and it will determine many aspects of our future.

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Sierra Student Coalition demands 100% renewable energy. Photo credit: Ashley Wineland

 

 

What is COP 21, and why will it define #OurFuture?

12316315_10153770674129169_3947117815950444653_nToday is the first day of COP21, which is the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or the UNFCCC. This meeting is being held in Paris, France, and over the course of the next two weeks negotiators from over 190 countries will work together to come up with the first universal international climate agreement. Climate agreements have been made in the past, like the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, but there has never been an agreement where all the countries, developed and developing, have to commit to reducing emissions in one way or another. At the end of these next two weeks that will no longer be the case.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 1.00.19 PMThe whole point of these negotiations is to come up with an agreement that will keep the global average temperature below 2 degrees celsius, which is a global tipping point. As President Obama said in his opening speech today, “our progress will be measured by the suffering that is averted and the planet that is preserved.” No truer words have been said.

So how are we going to do that? Negotiators have been working on the Paris Agreement for four years since COP 17 in Durban, South Africa in 2011. After those long and strenuous years we are now racing towards the finish line, and it is time to work out the final details.

The agreement is expected to revisit whether or not we want to have a below 2 degrees celsius on average warming goal or to put the goal at 1.5 degrees celsius so that we have a buffer as a planet; support a long term goal for decarbonization by a certain year (to be determined); suggest methods countries can take for climate action such as mitigation and adaptation projects and policies; deliver means to support implementing those projects and policies such as technology transfer, finance, and capacity building for developing nations; and contain equity language that allows for space for climate justice for many communities that have been unfairly impacted by climate change, which they did not contribute to. Finally, this agreement has been developed in a bottom up approach where all countries have submitted pledges, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that outline how they will reduce their carbon emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change, and financially support other countries as they work to combat climate change. This has been good because countries can submit what they believe to be politically feasible. However, even with the pledges that we have right now, the planet is expected to warm well over 2 degrees, and so it will be imperative that countries submit more ambitious quickly, and they are not allowed to backslide below what they have already pledged. Therefore, a review process for these INDCs will be in the agreement as well, but the specifics of that process are still up for debate.12289592_10153770674169169_9155730547084079485_n

Clearly there is still a lot to talk about in a short amount of time. Regardless of the outcome of the agreement, this will only be the beginning. It will take local work and domestic action to make the INDCs become a reality, and it will be up to us, global citizens, to go above and beyond to demand action on climate everywhere for our future.