Will Steger Foundation Expedition Copenhagen 2009

The Expedition Copenhagen team consists of Midwest youth who will travel to the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 5-19, 2009. The expedition will be led in part by internationally renowned polar explorer Will Steger, and designed in collaboration with youth climate partners across the region.

Return to the UNFCCC: COP16

Posted On Tuesday, November 16, 2010 by Reed Aronow | | 0 comments

Tuesday, November 16, 2010: 10 Days Til COP16: In less than two weeks, I will be on the ground in Cancun as a member of the SustainUS U.S. Youth Delegation to COP16 in Cancun, Mexico. I am excited, and ready to be working with youth from around the world to advocate for a fair and equitable international climate treaty. Last year I was honored to have been a part of the Will Steger Foundation's Expedition Copenhagen, a United Nations delegation of 12 Midwest Youth led by polar explorer Will Steger. Through my work with the Expedition Team, I helped organize a 700 mile 350.org Climate Bike through rural Minnesota, learned how to mentor and speak effectively on the issue of climate change, and took part as a youth observer delegate in the COP15 United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen. As a team we worked together, asking tough questions in meetings high level U.S. officials such as U.S. Envoy to the U.N. on Climate Change, Jonathan Pershing and working with youth from around the world to organize events such as the Youth Climate Flash Dance and a rally against tar sands. The result of the conference negotiations, the Copenhagen Accord, was bittersweet. The Accord was an extremely weak compromise where countries could choose to write in whatever amount they elected to reduce their CO2 emissions by without any kind of legally binding protocols. Although this was a disappointment, the process was still moving forward when it could have fallen apart. I chose to not give up hope. Resist Despair. This is a phrase that I emphasize in the speeches that I give at schools, religious institutions and events, and is one of the most important things that we must do if we are to confront the climate crisis. All too often it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of what could happen if we do not confront the climate challenge head on, but it is not too late, and there is so much that is still possible. When I returned to the United States I made the decision to resist the despair that I felt over the results of COP15. I chose to keep going, organizing the Minnesota Clean Energy Forum, and speaking everywhere that I could about the subject of climate change. In 10 days, I will be returning to the UNFCCC process as a SustainUS youth delegate. This time will be different, and I feel older and wiser from my experiences in Copenhagen. I will be working with youth from around the world and the SustainUS delegation to plan creative actions and campaigns, and will give you a blow by blow blog update from on the ground. One of the most important things that you can do to help out with our campaigns from back home is to become a COP15 Rapid Responder. If you sign up, we will call you only 3 or 4 times during the conference and will ask you to talk with U.S. Congresspeople and Department of State officials about specific aspects of the treaty that we are hoping to influence. Please consider becoming a rapid responder by following this link: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dDNOVEgwcktCREp1X0haVkVTdVQ1U3c6MQ Peace and Happy Winter Bikin, Reed

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Youth Demand a FAB Treaty in Copenhagen

Posted On Friday, February 19, 2010 by Danielle | | 0 comments

Today wraps up the end of the first week of negotiations in Copenhagen. It's been a great time here, and a lot of good work has been accomplished. The youth have been an impressive positive force throughout the week and we have received a lot of recognition for our efforts, professionalism, energy and creativity. I think it's a great time to take inventory of what has happened, and to reiterate our position as youth on these negotiations. Monday, December 7th: - Opening session of COP15 with IPCC Chairman Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, UN Secretariat Yvo de Boer, COP15 President Connie Hedegaard and others. - First International Youth Climate Movement action- Flash Mob Dance!  Watch the video:

http://www.youtube.com/willsteger1#p/search/1/-sWHCEaNmNE 

Tuesday, December 8th: - Youth have high-level briefing with Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action Michael Zammit-Cutajar, and John Ashe, Chair of the UN group discussing rich countries’ emissions. - Youth and NGOs meet with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing, and Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs David Sandelow for an off-the-record meeting.  
 
Wednesday, December 9th: - Rapid Response team is created! The US Youth are calling friends back home to get them to engage their Senators to vote for domestic climate legislation based on science. Tuvalu protests Danish leaked text outside of a plenary session.  

Thursday, December 10th: - Young and Future Generations Day: 1,000 youth wore bright orange t-shirts that read "How Old Will You Be in 2050?" and "Don't Bracket Our Future" bringing light to the issue that youth will bare the brunt of climate change. - Indian Youth Representative gives amazing speech at meeting with Yvo de Boer - watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/willsteger1#p/search/0/4XTr2VEhIBY

 US and Chinese youth meet to discuss commonalities between our countries and develop strategic positions and actions for the negotiations. Watch the resulting press conference: http://www.youtube.com/willsteger1#p/search/0/4lLvpC4Ky9M

Friday, December 11th: Saturday, December 12th: - Biggest march around climate change ever. The streets of Copenhagen were a sea of lights when over 100,000 people joined together in a march for international awareness of climate change issues and calling for a legally binding treaty at the end of this week based on science. Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/willsteger1#p/search/0/jsSreaR3O0Y

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UN Climate Change Summit Take 15 And....Action

Posted On Friday, February 19, 2010 by Aurora C | | 0 comments

So many things are happening at the U.N. Climate Change Summit - it will make your head spin! Bringing awareness and attention to an issue or group can be done in many ways. "Actions" are a large part of the Climate Change Summit and in making statements worldwide. Particular planned actions with different organizations and groups must be planned, requested and approved by U.N. with certain regulations and guidelines for all. I just wanted to share some amazing action photos with you here.
These are just some of the incredibly inspiring youth actions that took place at the U.N. Climate Summit. There were many actions throughout the Bella Center, with different groups and organizations taking part. Expedition Copenhagen team members took part in many of these actions, myself included. I thought the rainstorm action was awesome, I also loved being a part of the Indigenous actions too, we sang songs, chanted and stood strong together and represented well. Sometimes you might wonder, honestly wonder if what you do as one person will make a difference....believe that it does. As these actions set examples and framed messages, one by one we stand together, and together we make a difference.

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We want YOU for strong US climate legislation

Posted On Sunday, February 07, 2010 by Jamie | | 0 comments

The negotiations were intense, the stakes were high, and the resulting Copenhagen Accord left people worldwide wondering when countries would agree to a binding treaty. After attending the Copenhagen Climate Conference, I've been thinking a lot about the outcome and what the future holds for the US as climate legislation will soon be voted on in the Senate. I do know this: climate change is not going to stop on its own and certainly will continue to threaten ecosystems and humans worldwide unless countries take responsibility to decrease their pollution by moving to renewable energy sources. One of the main phrases used at the United Nations Climate Change Conference was the notion of "common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities." There is recognition that countries are not evenly distributed in the amount of pollution they emit, and countries that are the largest polluters have a responsibility to dramatically reduce their emissions as is within their capacity. This also means that emerging economies have a responsibility to move to renewable energy sources when building new energy plants, and developing countries suffering the most from climate change must also do what is in their ability to reduce their carbon footprint. But developing countries need help adapting to the environmental changes that are occurring which affect the lives and livelihoods of their people. The Copenhagen Accord states that developed countries should provide financial assistance to these countries, so that people have the resources to rebuild.
The next climate conference is just around the corner, and its purpose will be to use the Copenhagen Accord as a framework for a legally-binding treaty. With only a few months to go, the US has a lot of domestic work to do before being able to make any international contributions to this collective effort. The US will have to pass climate legislation in the Senate, and the outcome of the vote depends largely on the Midwest votes. It's an exciting time for states in the Midwest, because they are not only the breadbasket of the nation and parts of the world, but they are now prime candidates for the global economic market that is transitioning to renewable energy technology. As more countries utilize their renewable energy resources and start manufacturing businesses for that technology, the global market is shifting to one centered around environmental technology. If the US is quick to take the opportunity, we will continue to be the global economic leader. However, countries like China, India, France and Germany are already establishing strong economies in technology, and the US could soon fall behind. The Senate passing climate legislation will enable the US to create more opportunities for domestic job opportunities centered around renewable energy, and the Midwest could benefit from making use of its wind energy potential along with solar and hydropower options.
I've heard from people around the world during my time at the Copenhagen conference, and I've learned that a driving force behind creating a healthier planet is in youth, who stand united on their persistence and dedication to this issue. Youth from the Midwest have already raised their voices in the form of notes that were delivered to President Obama, and it is actions like that which will form the support needed for legislative votes. In South Dakota, I'll continue to visit schools and talk to youth about the ability we all have to be concerned citizens who take initiative to make the world a better place. Solutions are best achieved from a collaboration of individuals, and each note or phone call to a senator really means a lot in helping senators know what their constituents want!
Our senators will be the ones voting on climate change legislation, but their decision to vote in favor or against depends on the voice they hear from the people they represent. That means YOU! So, for now, there are some very important steps each of us can take to work for more clean energy jobs, making use of our RENEWABLE resources, and working to help the billions of people who are sharing this earth with us:
1. Speak up! Contact your congresspeople and tell them what you think about the future of our states and our world. It's easy- just check http://www.congress.org/ to find the phone number or address of the elected official you want to talk to. Let them know you want them to support strong climate legislation.
2. Get involved. Take little measures every day that will decrease your own carbon footprint. Go for a walk rather than driving and enjoy the outdoors! Teach someone how to garden; recycle-- the possibilities are endless.
3. Learn the issue. There are great scientific sites to learn all about climate change, and you can read the Copenhagen Accord here.
There is so much that each of us can do to make a difference, and it doesn't take going to an international conference to achieve it.

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Adapting to a Changing World

Posted On Sunday, February 07, 2010 by Maia | | 1 comments

The Copenhagen climate conference taught me we will have to adapt to the effects of climate change. If this had not been clear in my mind beforehand, the stories I heard from global young people awoke me to reality. I heard about droughts in Kenya and floods in Bangladesh. Youth from my local area shared stories of environmental illnesses and inequities. In addition, Pershing, the head United States negotiator at the conference, explained to us in a hearing that while we do not know the exact amount of funding that will be needed for climate change adaptation in the coming decades, the numbers will be high and the need is urgent. Change has begun. I know that I cannot sit idly by as climate change accelerates.

What's next?

As I continue to reflect on my intense team experience of the negotiations, I ask myself how I can help a changing world transition into a healthier place where we will continue to face climate change. The most important lesson I learned in Copenhagen was how critical it is for me to work within my own community to create solutions to climate change. The Midwest will be a critically important region as we work for national climate legislation, and I have political power as a voter and organizer in a swing state. This legislation could help our Midwest states thrive as we shift to a new clean energy economy.

This fall, riding my bike around Minnesota with Reed, I saw many examples of climate solutions. This trip inspired me to find ways to engage my community through gardening, alternative transportation, and other measures for adapting to a changing world. The Midwest contains vast stretches of agricultural land and a large portion of the earth’s fresh water. We have many opportunities to lead the globe through local initiatives.

Through the Copenhagen conference, I also realized that my work to study past adaptations to climate change and vulnerable ecosystems has real value for us today. I fell in love with archaeology in high school and decided to focus on ancient food production in college. More sustainable, healthier agricultural systems are possible, and past farming techniques can provide examples for how to innovate and move forward without fossil fuels. Every area of study, and every student, can help us face the future as responsible citizens of the globe through local action. What will you do?

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New Bike Adventure Video Blog!

Posted On Sunday, February 07, 2010 by Reed Aronow | | 0 comments

Check out the first episode of my new video blog on biking and promoting clean energy and transit! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyhEb729h8U

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Life After Copenhagen

Posted On Sunday, January 24, 2010 by Megan | | 0 comments

Upon arriving back in the United States, I was flooded with relief to be back on familiar territory. My trip to Copenhagen was undoubtedly a long one, but successful at that. Feelings were fixed upon the closing of the climate conference. An international treaty was not established but officials had enough sense to lay the groundwork for the next Conference of Parties (COP) in Mexico, 2011. I was relieved that the issue of climate change was finally being taken seriously but I felt that people weren't moving fast enough! Slow and steady seems to be the motto that officials around the world use; regardless of whether swift action was called for or not. A lesson to be learned for all those eager for change out there; progress takes time. In the meantime, until the issue of climate change is solved, I will continue to work fruitfully in my own backyard to ensure that the seeds of change begin to grow. Actively pursuing climate legislation, my home environmental group is revamping our efforts to engage students with the issues that face the Senate this spring. With the health care bill coming to a close, the Senate will now begin to vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES Bill). It is of the utmost importance that a climate bill is passed in order for the U.S. to participate in future COP negotiations. My own personal understand is this; our government will never agree to an internationally binding treaty unless we have passed climate legislation first in our homeland. This is why we must all join together and continue to pressure legislators to vote green. Throughout this semester I will be working directly with NDSU's student body government to coordinate events focused around climate legislation. I will also be giving talks and lectures to the local community on topics such as biofuel, oil-dependency and sustainability. I hope to continue working with grades K-12 in new partnership recently formed with university faculty as well as Repower America, the National Wildlife Federation and the Prairie Stewardship Network. This will be an active time for everyone!

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