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!

IYSECC Conference

Last week, I joined our partners for the Online Youth Exchange, China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN) in Tianjin for their 9th annual International youth summit on energy and climate change. The conference spanned the course of three days during which we learned about topics ranging from agriculture to architecture, fashion to food to address this year’s theme: Green Youth, Green Future. The main focuses were Green Food, Green Cities and Green Lifestyle.

Most exciting though, was that we had the chance to bring the Online Youth Exchange program offline for a couple of days and meet up! I began working with Echo of CYCAN two years ago, and have been talking with our OYE participants since the program year began last September, and to finally meet up was incredible. CYCAN generously funded travel scholarships for 4 OYE participants:

The four participants were joined by two Chinese OYErs, Yirui and Cherry (partners with Jasmita and Amalen, respectively) and the coordinator from CYCAN, Echo.

Together, our OYE team presented to approximately 75 students on a how to get engaged in activism. We began with a talk on how to get involved locally; we discussed power mapping and event planning. This was followed by a game, presented by Amalen, which simulated a campaign to stop a coal mine from being built in a forest. It was a great way to simulate the types of experiences and barriers that they might encounter should they move into activism, and they all seemed to be enjoying the thrill of the game as they ran back and forth across the room devising deals with the other groups. After a quick break, students returned to watch a video of OYE participants (thanks to David for his video editing skills!) and heard from all 4 OYE scholarship recipients about climate action in their own countries. We finished the seminar with a presentation on how to link local action with greater global movements and an explanation of the UNFCCC and COP.

We were interviewed and filmed by CGTN during our presentation. It was my first time being on TV ever, so it was exciting and nerve-wracking (for all of us!) Thankfully, Pradeep is a natural and his passion for protecting his homeland showed through. Special thanks to Cui “Hans” Hui’ao for his journalism!

Throughout the duration of the conference, we passed out climate sign stickers, and encouraged attendees to use the sign to symbolize a desire for action on climate change. We asked them to tell us why they Care About Climate, here’s what inspires them!

Accomplishments:

  • Distributed 250 Climate Sign Stickers
  • Took 40 Climate Sign photos
  • Presented to 75 students for 3 hours about the Online Youth Exchange, Care About Climate, how to get involved in activism campaigns, and global activism work.
  • Online-to-offline meet up of 9 OYE participants/coordinators.
  • Collected 36 phone contacts and 54 email addresses of interested parties
  • Received 10 responses to the OYE interest form on our website
  • Planned for OYE 3.0 programming and budget, based on feedback from OYE 2.0
  • Featured on TV on CGTN’s English channel, broadcast to approximately 500,000 viewers regionally.
  • Shared the Climate Sign with 300+ people
  • Solidified ties with CYCAN

Sarah Voska

Director, Online Youth Exchange

Care About Climate

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.