Category Archives: United Nations

Youth Will (Must) Save The Day: United Nations COP26 Youth Marathon

COP26 Final
Most every year since 1995, the world’s nations have been meeting to discuss our global climate crisis at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP). This year’s session is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, as the United Kingdom hosts the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) until November 12th. And, as part of this year’s event, I was honored to moderate the North America portion of the United Nations Climate & Oceans COP26 24 Hour Youth Marathon this past Saturday.
IMG_3943
The Youth Marathon was a day-long event that included three groups of different sessions across three time zones. It was also an incredible opportunity to watch the world’s youth shine as we focused on what I believe is the most important issue today’s young people will face in their lives here on earth.
Satellite events like the one I moderated are intertwined with the more public events that you see covered in the mass media where many world leaders (this year including the United State’s President Joe Biden) give speeches and perform other ceremonial type tasks. At its core, the key focus of the COP meetings is to monitor and shape the status of climate oriented policies being taken around the world to reduce carbon pollution, as well as to review the emission inventories submitted by Parties (the various nations). This information is then used to assess and measure the progress the Parties are making in support of the Convention’s goals. COP21, for example, took place in Paris and it’s not uncommon to hear mention of the “Paris Agreement” which relates to the goals the various nations set at that conference in 2015. Chances are good that you will hear about various Glasgow Agreements in the weeks and years to come that sprout from this month’s meetings (I sure hope that’s the case).
An important element of this year’s event, COP26, is strengthening society’s ability to adapt to climate change impacts globally, as well as mobilizing financing and implementing solutions that have been outlined in previous COP conferences. As our climate change crisis worsens by the day due to man’s use of fossil fuels, it is ever important that every country in the world comes together to help each other in such dire times of need. As I’ve said before, climate change will ultimately impact every aspect of society, every country on our planet, and as such it is imperative that we all come together as a global community and unify in prioritizing and solving what I believe to be the greatest challenge today’s youth will ever face. And that’s what these COP meetings strive to accomplish.
FC5FE8BXMAIvoTK
Our  North American session hosted two venerated speakers, the esteemed Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and Emily De Sousa, who spoke to a global audience.
Dr. Hayhoe taught our attendees about the importance of statistics in climate science and her research as Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy and political science professor at Texas Tech University. Her research focuses on establishing a scientific basis for assessing the regional to local-scale impacts of climate change on human systems and the natural environment.
Screenshot (332)
Emily De Sousa taught our patrons how to effectively communicate with, write to, political leaders. Emily just finished her masters degree and has extensive experience working with politicians to implement sustainable solutions.
IMG_3952Allow me to thank Dr. Hayhoe and Ms. De Sousa for their incredible work and passion. And speaking of passion, allow me to also thank the United Nations Association; acclaimed Gonzalo Alvarez, United Nations Marine Biologist and Oceanographer; and Hannah Glowacki and Karl Birkholtz, UNA Youth Council Members, for helping to organize and support this important event.
But mostly, allow me to thank the world’s youth for participating in the event and being so dedicated to helping make our planet better and cleaning up our climate mess. As your Moderator it was simply amazing to watch the world’s youth illustrate such leadership and fortitude on such an important, ominous topic.
When it comes to our global climate crisis, you, my friends, the world’s youth, will save mankind from its polluting past. This week’s Youth Marathon made that clear yet again, and I am deeply proud of each attendee’s commitment and relentless passion.

Summer “Vacation”

Just after sunrise today, the water here in the Florida Keys is flat calm, glass-like, and the world is still and silent except for the occasional Blue Heron flying by or tarpon rolling in the shallow water. It’s a tranquil scene for sure, but it’s also the start of a busy day here at The Sink or Swim Project in what has been a busy week working on our climate crisis including lecturing, advancing our Florida legal case’s appeal and an incredible prospective plan for Florida and America’s future energy policy that I am excited to share with you very soon. Our climate crisis and the assault we are witnessing on science does not take a summer vacation and thus I’d like to share a couple of upcoming events with you, one that takes place today and one next week, that I’d love you to consider joining me for.

IMG_2541

Today I am very excited to work with my friend Vic Barrett from the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) who will be hosting a Climate Conversations Happy Hour on ACE’s Instagram account (@acespace). You can join, chat with, and ask us questions at 3pm EST today by watching live here: www.instagram.com/acespace.

Thanks to Vic for both being such a good friend and for having me participate and thanks to Jennifer for your support of our concerns over the climate crisis.

InstaOcean

On Monday, July 13th, I am ever so excited to join The Global Summit, as part of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. I will be a panelist along with George Cummings, Ai Futaki, Ombretta Agro’ Andruff, and Jose Luis Sanchez where we will be discussing our work in relation to climate change and our ocean as part of the One Planet – One Team – One Mission panel. I do hope that you can join; register by visiting www.theglobalsummit.org/voices365.

I hope to see everyone at these events and that you’re all having a great and safe summer vacation.

10,800%

Getting 200 of the world’s nations to agree on the steps needed to shift away from mankind’s century-long love affair with fossil fuels to clean, sustainable solutions might be the largest task humanity has ever undertaken together. As hard as I imagine it was to recover from devastating world wars and any number of horrible historic humanitarian crises, these could look small in dollars and the fortitude it will take for the citizens of the world to work together to solve our global climate crisis before it’s too late.

And because of that, the work that the United Nations is doing to address our climate crisis, including the recent Conference of the Parties (COP) in Madrid, is important for many reasons including:

2019 was the year that the University of Oxford’s Oxford University Press named “climate emergency” as its “word” (phrase) of the year after the use of those two words increased 10,800% between September 2018 and September 2019. Five or six years ago when I began my climate change work here at The Sink or Swim Project many people were unaware that earth was warming, much less the key reasons for these changes and their repercussions. As 2020 begins it’s clear that whether from Oxford University, research by Yale University or other sources, people all over the world now know that we have a problem and are increasingly being subject to its impact.

2019 was also the year that the United Nations issued its most recent forecast on earth’s temperatures and whether our society is doing enough, fast enough, to offset the worst impacts of our climate change crisis. In October, 2019 the IPCC illustrated that we are not making the type of progress needed to sufficiently influence future warming including the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. You can review that report by clicking here.

Led by the United States in Paris in 2015, the world’s nations, nearly 200 of them, agreed that society must keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius versus pre-industrial revolution levels and set a goal to work together to keep temperatures from rising no more than 1.5 degrees. The recent United Nations’ report, and the pathetic results from COP 25 in Madrid, again illustrate just how hard it will be to achieve these goals and the importance that the nations of the world have measurable goals and rules needed to attain them if we are to ever solve this crisis.

What was accomplished during two weeks of climate discussions in Madrid?

Not much.

“Once again, no progress has been made to bring countries more in line with the 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement. Very strict rules are an absolute necessity and old untrustworthy CO-2 credits have to be scrapped. That has not happened in Madrid, the summit ended without a deal.”

Bas Eickhout, European Parliament Member

The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world today (and historically has been the largest), yet our current President, calling it a “bad deal,” has announced that our country will withdraw from the Paris Agreement this year. Lacking the United States’ vision, deep engagement and leadership in solving the crisis, the world is a different place today than it was in 2015. Words like “failure” and “disarray” are being used to summarize the outcome in Madrid.

I am disappointed with the results of #COP25. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on  mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis. But we must not give up, and I will not give up.

António Guterres, United Nation’s Chairman, December 15, 2019

And while many of the world’s biggest nations – Australia, Brazil and, sadly, the United States – seem intent on “kicking the can down the road” as they say, doing little or consciously overlooking the issue, the people that I talk to at my lectures and other events are intent on learning, are openly wondering about what will happen, craving leadership and increasingly express being worried. I am worried too and the lack of progress at a global meeting on the climate change crisis that draws nearly 200 nations yet gets little done should concern us all.

Speaking of Oxford as I was, the University wrote in November, 2019 that 70% of British citizens live in areas which have already declared a climate emergency.

70% (!).

In one country.

In 2019.

Keeping in mind that the repercussions from our warming climate have only just begun and are about to get far worse without significant action by you and me and our governments, it is not surprising that a recent poll found that 52% of people in the United Kingdom are “very concerned” about climate change. What’s significant about that poll and figure is that just five years ago only 18% were “very concerned”.

People are listening. Reading. Learning.

Sure, the lack of meaningful action in Madrid is disappointing, but there are encouraging signs all around us that a world-wide movement, one often led by the youngest in society, to address this crisis is not only alive and well but growing. Significantly growing. No matter what you hear from politicians in Washington, San Paolo or other places intent on protecting the polluters, don’t overlook the use of the phrase “climate emergency” increasing by 10,800% in a year’s time or that the number of people in an entire country that call themselves “very concerned” about that very same emergency would triple in five years time.

People are starting to see the effects.

They are starting to widely understand that the world must come together to solve this problem.

And we, and by “we” I mean all of us with voices and votes and currency and feelings the world over, are finally on the verge of demanding that all political and business leaders understand the climate emergency and are focused on fixing it.

No more meetings that do nothing. Otherwise those so called “leaders” will need to understand that we will replace them and/or boycott their products and services in favor of those who are serious about solving the issue and that’s not intended as a threat or “big” talk or what-not.

It’s reality.

It’s what 10,800% tells me.

That percentage and these other figures illustrate that we are leaving an era of early education, one of tolerance, and are now entering an era of action because people increasingly know that the “climate emergency” is upon us and that the time to fix the problem has arrived at the dawn of the new decade that is 2020.

1 2 3