Blog Wed, 01 Apr 2015 07:03:06 -0600 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Gender Equality Supporters Stop Traffic in Manhattan


          A sea of gender equality supporters fled the streets of Manhattan on Sunday afternoon as they marched from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and finished up at Times Square to celebrate the International Day of Women. The day was focused not only on celebrating the achievements of women and how far they’ve come but to continue to rally support towards a world where the fundamental human rights of women are not ignored.

         There was a very diverse crowd of women, men and children from around the world, who passionately came together to focus on transforming the world by placing women and girls central to all global development plans. Men demonstrated support for women and girls in acknowledging that gender equality is a men’s issue.  Men chanting side by side with women recognizing that on the global scale women are not afforded the same advantages as men. A sea of gender equality supporters fled the streets of Manhattan on Sunday.

        The march kicked off the discussion regarding gender equality and women empowerment. Representatives of Member Stats, UN entities and NGO’s from all regions of the world will come together at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 9th to the 20th for the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.  The focus of the session will address the implementation, barriers and achievements of gender equality and empowerment of women.     

]]> (Michelle Rodriguez) AoC Blog Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:50:09 -0600
Application Deadline Extended!!

SustainUS’s Agents of Change program is extending the UN youth delegate application deadline for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to January 18, 2015! 

UN Youth delegates will have the chance to engage in hands-on learning about policymaking at the UN while working with youth from around the world. From crafting effective media strategies and publishing op-eds to developing domestic environmental campaigns and lobbying government officials, the skills that delegates learn are valuable and long-lasting. SustainUS equips its delegates with the capacity to be effective leaders to push for strong sustainable development policies at these conferences and back in their communities.


The session will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from March 9-20, 2015. Applicants are required to be between the ages of 18 and 26 as of March 2015 and to either (a) be a US citizen or (b) have studied or worked in the US for more than six months. Please submit your application by Sunday January 18th 2015 at 11:59PM EST.


If you have any questions, please contact the AoC Coordinators at:

Please submit this application along with a one-page resume or a list of your previous experience to




]]> (Admin) AoC Blog Tue, 06 Jan 2015 21:22:14 -0700
Fossil fuel companies grow nervous as divestment movement grows stronger

Cross-posted from Grist

LIMA, Peru — Though fossil fuel companies may wave their hands dismissively at the divestment movement, some nervous actions of late show more concern than they let on. Consider this curious incident here in Lima, as the United Nations climate talks entered their second week. Shell’s chief climate change advisor was slated to present a panel, cosponsored by Chevron, entitled, “Why Divest from Fossil Fuels When a Future with Low-Emission Fossil Energy Use Is Already a Reality?” Except … they didn’t. Late last week, the title was quietly changed to the more innocuous, “How Can We Reconcile Climate Targets with Energy Demand Growth?”

It must have been done in a hurry because they forgot to change the web address for the event page.

How can we reconcile climate targets with energy demand growth?

The title change did nothing to placate the frontline community members and youth climate activists who flooded the event. Panelists found themselves blocked out for half an hour from the private pavilion of the International Emissions Trading Association, which is sponsored by the likes of Shell and Chevron.

Shell protestGeoffrey Supran

Shell’s sponsorship of the divestment event-that-wasn’t earned the company a specially created Sly Sludge Award, presented by the Climate Action Network, an affiliation of hundreds of environmental NGOs.

As Shell’s misstep reveals, divestment has got the industry’s attention, and understandably so. The global movement calling on universities, religious institutions, cities, and states to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry is growing faster than any other in history, now spanning 697 campaigns worldwideStanford Universitythe Rockefeller Brothers Fund34 cities, and the World Council of Churches — representing over half a billion members — are among the 700 investors worth more than $50 billion who have already committed to going fossil-free. Norway is also considering divesting the country’s $840 billion sovereign wealth fund. Even the current negotiating text of the U.N. climate agreement includes a call for divestment.

The power of divestment stems not only from the act itself, but from the movement it catalyses: galvanizing a sense of generational mission in young people unyielding in their demand for an end to business-as-usual leadership. When electric utility giant NRG announced its goal of 90 percent emissions reductions by 2050 last month, the company’s chief executive, David Crane, said of divestment, “I don’t relish the idea that year after year we’re going to be graduating a couple million kids from college … with a distaste or disdain for companies like mine.”

Shell’s fumble is just the latest defense against divestment. Australian National University’s divestment announcement was met by the threat of legal action, while Sydney University’s announcement to review its investment policies led NSW Minerals Council head Stephen Galilee to go so far as to suggest that the divestment campaign might be illegal. Even ExxonMobil weighed in twice this fall, its vice president of public and government affairs, Ken Cohen, blogging that the divestment movement is “simply … out of step with reality” and “a divisive and counterproductive diversion from the search for genuine solutions.” Divestment packs a punch even at the highest levels, as is made by clear by Australian Prime Minister and coal champion Tony Abbott’s denunciation of ANU’s decision as “stupid”.

As the old adage goes, if you’re taking flak, you’re over the target.

It’s not only the divestment campaign that is tightening the screws. Government subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are also under scrutiny in Lima. Last Saturday, a new report by nonprofit Oil Change International revealed that the widely celebrated $10 billion in climate aid pledged by the world’s richest nations is a mere third of that spent subsidising fossil fuel extraction each year. “Phasing down of high carbon investments and fossil fuel subsidies” is among the measures currently under consideration by negotiators in Lima for a legally binding climate agreement in Paris next year. Last week, the Bank of England announced that it is investigating whether fossil fuel companies pose a systemic risk to financial stability.

There’s also the small matter of science. For a reasonable chance of avoiding the“severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts” of climate change, two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves must never be burned. Indeed, with the U.N.’s current negotiating text going as far as to propose “full decarbonization by 2050,” ExxonMobil and Shell may cease to exist in their current forms in 35 years. Former BP boss Lord John Browne has warned that climate change poses an “existential threat” to the industry.

Under pressure from all sides, the fossil fuel lobby’s self-described “win ugly or lose pretty” tactics — based on the playbook perfected by Big Tobacco and othermerchants of doubt — are in full swing. The industry confidently misinforms our public and politicians about silver bullet “false solutions” like natural gas andcarbon capture and storage, in an effort to distract us from the reality that political and societal will — and not technology — are now the bottleneck to meaningful climate action. Thirty fossil fuel companies and trade associations, including BP America, Chevron, Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, and Shell, continue to fund the anti-science disinformation factory that is the American Legislative Exchange Council. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent every year lobbying and donating in Washington against legislation for climate action further strangle the bottleneck.

Divestment loosens the fossil fuel industry’s grip, which is exactly why they are so afraid of it. Divestment seeks not to financially bankrupt these companies, but to morally bankrupt their business-as-usual practices and undermine the false legitimacy implied by their associations with universities, the U.N., and other respected bodies. Divestment shifts political reality to create breathing room for meaningful leadership and legislation. In the words of Climate Action Network Director Wael Hmaidan, “If politics is the art of the possible, campaigning is about changing what is possible.”

Join us on Feb. 13, when divestment advocates around the world will celebrate the first ever Global Divestment Day.

AoC Blog Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:21:34 -0700
People’s Climate March: From Lima to Paris

On what felt like the hottest day thus far at COP20, hundreds took to the streets of central Lima to march in solidarity for Terra Madre. With high-waving banners, picket signs, and colorfully-clad characters on stilts, environmentalists at the People’s Climate March called for a progressive outcome this week at the United Nations climate change conference in Lima on the road to the Paris negotiations in 2015.

I marched alongside fellow SustainUS delegates, navigating what seemed to be a circuitous route imprisoning unsuspecting drivers in gridlock traffic. Even the traffic-control police appeared somewhat at a loss as they attempted to direct the crowds across the streets. The march pressed ahead through the confusion as would an inching caterpillar – slowly advancing its front, then surging ahead as the middle swells to bring forward its trailing rear. The result was an interchanging pace of painstaking shuffle and sudden sprint across eight lanes of stalled traffic.

Those of you present at the People’s Climate March (PCM) may recall the striking image of Times Square pulsing with the energy of marchers - students, activists, researchers, concerned citizens, NGOs, and families all rallying for climate justice. At present, I call New York City home and on Sunday September 21st I saw my backyard transformed into an international stage, where voices sang out for the world’s leaders to hear.

Today I marched with voices whose cry sounds from some deep place of shared pain, with eyes that have bared witness to the systematic torture of the land, and with hearts that have felt great loss. Indigenous peoples throughout South America have suffered personal and societal upheaval as climate change and human interference continue to degrade the continent’s dwindling rainforests, sensitive mountain regions, and eroding coastlines.

What will it take to for us to listen? What will it take to bring us all to the table?

In unity with the spirit of the march, I donned my People’s Climate March t-shirt customized with personal sources of inspiration. The shirt reads, “I’m marching to… grow global awareness, cultivate community, and harvest hope.”

Beyond showcasing my acute appreciation for alliteration and thematic use of food, the message points to some aims we should strive for as global citizens. In order to make positive change we need to think and act in community, and celebrate our success stories.

Too often this discourse leaves us feeling the weight of an insurmountable burden. And indeed the challenges are immense. Vulnerable communities, plants, animals, and the Earth itself have every right to cry out against the injustices laid upon them. In turn, we each have responsibility to hear those cries and do our part in alleviating injustice.

But as we work to create a more equitable world, lets celebrate each step of the way! Shifting the discourse to one of hope and inspiration seems to be a more sustainable way to march forward. And march forward we shall, all the way to Paris where we will continue to push for progressive and meaningful policy.

AoC Blog Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:09:20 -0700
What Should I Have Said to Trigg Talley

What Should I Have Said to Trigg Talley?

Last Friday, the U.S. delegation met privately with American NGO observers in a small room in Zone B. No tweets, no quotes, no phones – those were the rules. The man we were all waiting to listen to was Trigg Talley, a senior State Department negotiator. When Trigg announced to the room that he wanted this meeting to be “off-the-record”, I briefly hoped that we were going to hear something apart from the typical State Department talking points on climate change. Of course, I was disappointed.

After providing relatively generic updates on the U.S. negotiating platform (mostly referring to the G2 summit agreements with China), Trigg opened the floor for questions. Some of them, he shrugged off or claimed he didn’t know enough background material. A few others, he genuinely attempted to provide an answer for. Still, his responses were clearly being politically filtered, despite his request that the meeting be “off-the-record.”

When at last it was over and the room was beginning to clear, many members of the SustainUS delegation approached Trigg with further questions. Yet when we pressured him to reveal his stance on the social discount rate, Mr. Talley simply didn’t know what that was. When we impressed upon him the importance of decarbonization by 2050, he provided us only vague affirmation of our general concerns.

Mr. Talley’s discomfort was visible. To some extent, I even empathized with the difficulty of his position. I started to ask myself – was Trigg simply a negotiator with no real interest in stopping climate change? Or was he genuine, and simply being constrained by his own office? Would one of us, if given such power, respond any differently to such questions?

Undoubtedly, Mr. Talley and others like him are being held back by a Congress that refuses to believe climate change is real, by an administration that prioritizes negotiation tactics over solving a global crisis. And honestly, I didn’t believe that anything we said in that room would change those influences on his actions. So what was I to say?

People with power experience tunnel vision, if they get good enough at their job. I believe it is our right and duty as youth, to remove the blinders, or at least attempt to pry them apart. Now, more than ever, people like Trigg need us to remind them of what is really at stake. If, amongst the hundreds of decisions that he makes on a day-to-day basis, one of them is influenced by something we say, then isn’t it worth making the man uncomfortable for a little while?

I did not get to speak to Trigg Talley. If I did, I suppose it would have gone something like this:

“Mr. Talley, I believe you’re a good person. And I believe that the U.S. agreement with China represented an honest, good effort towards curbing global emissions. But sir, when it comes to climate change, we don’t get points for good effort. Nobody is going to pat humanity on the back because we tried our best. Our contributions under the G2 put us on track for a 4-6 degree increase in global temperature, which will mean droughts, desertification, ocean acidity, and worse.

Now I understand your job has political constraints, and that the same constraints that apply to you today will apply tomorrow in the ADP session. But I want you to remind yourself, every second you’re in that chair, of what is really at stake. It’s bigger than your job, it’s bigger than your country, and it’s bigger than all of us.”

AoC Blog Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:04:57 -0700
The Lab Results Are In

This last week, I had my first experiences at a UNFCCC conference, COP 20. Observing these negotiations, I found myself drawing parallels between the worlds of health care and the United Nations.

Doctor: How do you feel?
Patient: Awful. I am exhausted, weak, and only feel myself getting worse.
Doctor: Sounds about right. We ran some tests and can see that your fever continues to rise every hour. X-rays revealed both a broken arm and finger. These diagnoses, along with your severe migraines and gastrointestinal pains make you a good candidate for the urgent care unit.
Patient: Am I going to be admitted?
Doctor: Well, see – it is not that easy. All the doctors in the hospital had to discuss and agree upon a treatment plan. After careful deliberation, the hospital has decided that we will work to reduce your fever by 0.5 degrees. Even though I pushed for a larger degree drop, not every doctor believed we should allocate that many resources to this symptom.
Patient: What about my arm?
Doctor: We agreed to fix your arm, but your finger is not as urgent to us. Because your arm is bigger and stronger than your finger, we must prioritize it. We will probably have to consider your finger a loss, but cannot provide any compensation for these damages.
Patient: Dare I ask about my migraines?
Doctor: Oh yes, those pesky headaches. Not every doctor believes migraines are a real medical condition. Some of us believe that the migraines are simply in your head. I will be able to prescribe you some medication to live with the pain, but we are not going to devote resources towards investigating the causes.
Patient: …and these stomach pains?
Doctor: Your GI discomfort will not evolve into anything severe for another two months. We will just wait it out for now. When it gets worse in two months, as we expect it to, you can come back so we can revisit the issue.
Patient: So are you going to admit me for urgent care or not?
Doctor: While we sense your problem is urgent, we feel the need to spend some more time gathering evidence and coming to an agreement on a treatment plan. This process could take years since your case has so many dynamic dimensions.
Patient: Everything in my life is only going to aggravate my problem – is there any way we can speed up the process?
Doctor: This is how things have always been done.

Compromise your health? Negotiate your well-being? As a patient, you would never expect a health care professional to even ask you to agree to this type of arrangement. Replace the “patient” in this scenario with our planet and the “doctor” with global leaders and you are looking at the reality of climate change negotiations. Unfortunately for global leaders, nature does not negotiate. A case that requires serious urgent care must be treated as such. The time to act is now.

Image Credit:

AoC Blog Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:03:02 -0700
Planetary Emergency or Sellable Democracy?


Trudging along through the muggy heat of Lima at the UN Climate Conference, nothing would indicate that we were standing at a conference that is slated to respond to a planetary emergency. Delegates lounge at tables on the grass, under the shade of trees, conducting interviews and swapping notes about the latest plenary. Delegates and civil society alike sweat in the temporary structures that house the COP, which are no more than huge tents with glass roofs, the same design as a greenhouse. Muttered jokes reference the UNFCCC’s desire for the delegates to feel the heat; others reference the cartoon featuring a frog in a boiling pot of water.

I arrived in Lima three days ago as an observer delegate with SustainUS for the 20th

Conference of the Parties (COP), under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC was created over 20 years ago to deal with the rising issue of climate change, providing a forum for global governments and the UN alike to negotiate strategies to mitigate and adapt to the worst impacts. Every year, the UNFCCC hosts a COP, where teams of negotiators from each country converge for two weeks to negotiate each country’s commitments—the level of emissions each country should cut, the amount of finance each country should pledge, and the policies each country should adopt to deal with adaptation. While it is well intentioned, the COP has failed to produce any type of binding treaty; COP20 is the 20th of these conferences, and governments have only managed to agree that they want to limit global mean temperature to 2 degrees Celsius of warming.

On my flight coming over, I had to ask myself why I’d decided to return to COP. I attended COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, which had quickly earned the name “The Corporate COP.” COP19 was heavily funded by multiple industries, and made no effort to hide it. There were bean-bag chairs strewn throughout the halls branded with “Emirates”; large signs proudly touting their sponsors, BMW and PGE among them; and the Executive Secretary, Christina Figueres, became the keynote speaker to the global coal conference that ran alongside. At the end of the two weeks, after incredible frustration, disillusionment, and days of running in circles[1], I joined 400 other civil society members and walked out of the COP in protest.

So why did we return? During that walkout, we wore shirts with “Polluters Talk, We Walk” on the front and “volveremos” on the back—we will return. And so we did. We returned to see if we could make some change in Lima.

COP 20 is possibly the most important climate conference we’ve had. It is the last COP before COP21 in Paris, where countries are slated to sign onto a treaty that will outline mitigation, adaptation, and finance from 2015 to 2020, and another set of agreements for post-2020. Paris will reportedly be then next Copenhagen—hopes are high, but it is unlikely we’ll see the results we want to see. As Lima sets the discussions and early commitments that will inform the decisions made in Paris, it becomes increasingly obvious that they will not satisfy the needs of global societies.

But before we can understand what is being discussed and decided in Lima, we first need to set the context.

There is a huge rift between the developed nations and the developing and least developed nations (LDCs). To begin with, developed countries are focusing on mitigation. The Umbrella Group, which includes the US and Australia, is the most powerful group in the negotiations. It is leading the effort to push for all countries (including developing countries) to make pledges on individual emissions cuts. However, it is that very group that has been historically responsible for the bulk of emissions, and is not yet experiencing the worst impacts of climate change. Developing countries and LDC are pushing for adaptation and loss and damage (finance) to be considered by the negotiations process. Rightly so, they are hesitant to pledge any amount of emissions cuts if they are not guaranteed to have the financial support to do so, and have the support to implement adaptation and fight current impacts of climate change. By ignoring this demand, the Umbrella Group and associates are condemning hundreds of millions of people to unconscionable suffering.

In November 2014, the United States and China announced a historical, and unexpected, agreement—they had met separately and before COP20 announced their own pledges for emissions reductions. It was a fantastic moment. For one, Obama made it quite clear that his legacy is to be a leader in climate action. It also set the tone for COP20, indirectly urging other countries to do the same. This announcement has given civil society something to hold onto to push Obama for even greater commitments that we desperately need to stay under 1.5 degrees[2]. However, if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll realize this is no cause for celebration. The US-China deal announced pledges that place us on track for a 4-6 degree warmer world. The US’s commitment in particular would only cut 14% of emissions by 2025 of 1990 levels.  Many NGOs are latching onto this agreement as a tiny glimmer of hope; but science and math shows that this will not deliver anywhere near the level of ambition needed.

Unfortunately, more and more developed countries are latching onto the idea of reaching an agreement no matter the costs. The orchestrator of this trend is the Obama Administration; Obama has made it disturbingly clear that he wants an agreement in Paris no matter the content. As a part of his legacy, he wants to be seen as the president who was able to orchestrate and reach such an agreement. Yet the proposals he’s putting forward, and the pressure he’s putting on developing countries, would mean game over for the planet and the most vulnerable communities. In addition to the lack of adaptation and finance, under this push for an agreement, developed countries are finding loopholes to avoid ambitious emissions cuts. In March 2015, countries will submit Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) for their intended pledges in Paris. This push for an agreement no matter the cost is allowing countries to draft pledges that determine their own targets for emissions cuts. Allowing countries to determine their own cuts will fail to put us on track to stay within 1.5 degrees of warming.


During each of the last four COPs, the Philippines have been struck by typhoons. Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines last year during COP19, was the most devastating typhoon to ever hit land; the typhoon left an enormous swath of damage, and killed a total of 6340 people. Yeb Sano, negotiator for the Philippines, delivered the Philippine’s opening speech on the first day of COP19; at that time, he did not know where his brother was. This year, Yeb has not returned. Typhoon Rubyis on track to hit the Philippines this weekend and has reached the status of “superstorm”; many fear that it will have the same impact as Haiyan, if not worse. But the Philippines is not the only place already experiencing the destructive impacts of climate change.

The Maldives are experiencing an increasing rate of storm surges and damaging sea level rise. Large areas in Africa are undergoing extensive drought, killing livestock and crops. More and more people are becoming classified as climate refugees. Adaptation and finance is necessary for these countries, but as long as the Umbrella Group dictates the negotiations, they will never see the assistance they need from the UNFCCC.

When you walk around the COP, listen in on the plenaries and negotiations, and read the materials that countries are providing, you don’t get the sense that this conference was scheduled to respond to a planetary emergency. Human deaths, the discounting of youth and future generations, and the real impacts on oceans, forests, and wildlife are treated as simple statistics and trading cards. It is institutionalized insanity, and one has to wonder how the connection between reality and the bubble that is COP has become white noise. In Yeb Sano’s words, “it is time to stop this madness.”


 [1] Quite literally in circles. The conference venue was in a football stadium (soccer), and the halls were around the circumference. People averaged ten laps per day.

[2] It’s the new 2 degrees Celsius. Much better target.



AoC Blog Mon, 08 Dec 2014 17:39:21 -0700
Local Action on a Global Stage

Analyzing the tie between state-level action and the United Nation’s Climate Talks

From California to the New York island, it is easy to carry on in the United States without engaging with the UNFCCC, the COPs, the looming INDCs, or the many more wonky acronyms that come along with the UN climate negotiations. For the record, the UNFCCC is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and it serves as the international negotiating body to develop agreements that aim to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” COP is the Conference of the Parties--these are the UN “Climate Talks” which take place at the end of every year to bring all the parties of the UNFCCC together. The INDCs are Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, but we’ll get to those later.

All states in the US are operating on a mirror timeline of decision making to the UN Climate Talks. This summer, the EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan, which tasks each state to develop a unique carbon reduction plan. The last day that the EPA is accepting comments on the Clean Power Plan was December 1st, which also marked the first day of COP20, the 20th round of the UN Climate Talks currently underway in Lima, Peru.

The goal of this round of the Talks is to build the framework and criteria of the next international climate treaty, which will be signed at COP21, the following round of talks that will take place in 2015 in Paris. All countries must submit an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the agreement, which is essentially a country specific mitigation target. These submissions are expected by March, 2015, with a hard deadline in June, 2015, the same time that the EPA intends to finalize the Clean Power Plan. States’ reactions and alterations to the Clean Power Plan will reveal if the United States is able to fulfil its own mitigation target and therefore will play a role in shaping the outcome of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement, as well as the Clean Power Plan, is set to kick into effect in 2020. The strength of this policy will show the ambition of countries to tackle climate change and will reveal if we are able to prevent warming to exceed two degrees Celsius. Two degrees is the politically and scientifically agreed upon limit of warming beyond which we are projected to experience catastrophic effects of an altered climate system.

A key principle of the UNFCCC is to act in accordance with “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.” Previous agreements of the UNFCCC have focused heavily on the former component of this phrase, creating a strict divide between developed and developing countries by emphasizing differentiated responsibilities.” Considering the policy method of INDCs and state-specific mitigation targets, greater attention is now being placed upon the latter component to the phrase of “respective capabilities.” Both of these policy initiatives have a hybrid form combining bottom-up and top-down strategy, differing from more traditional approaches of setting high level environmental regulations, monitoring, and enforcement.

The bottom up method brings valuable qualities to an agreement. First, the structure brings universal buy-in. Rather than creating an idealized policy from a top-down perspective, a component of the policy rests on the agency of local and regional governance to analyze and produce the local capacity for compliance. Additionally, creating agency at the state or regional level allows for experimentation with alternate strategies and a greater ability to address behavior of citizens. This hybrid method may open up more space for struggle and strife of opposing views, but will ultimately produce more effective strategy that is reflective of local realities and is not at risk of a top-down failure from misguided policy.

So, where do US states stand right now concerning climate action? There is great variety in this answer across the nation--ten states are engaged in market-based programs for greenhouse gas reduction, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the East and California Cap-and-trade. Twenty-seven states have energy efficiency standards to reduce overall energy consumption. Furthermore, twenty-nine states have a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to spur development of carbon free power production, while an additional 8 states have an RPS goal. State-level climate policy has been largely voluntarily driven up to this point; the Clean Power Plan provides an opportunity to scale up renewable energy production and energy efficiency programs already underway in a number of states.

Given that the US holds the record by far for the largest amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere historically, it is imperative for the US to commit to bold action to spur ambition from countries around the world leading up to the Paris agreement. The commitments made by the US in the negotiations have global repercussions, just as much as the inaction of the US would create a global roadblock to climate progress. For the US to commit to bold climate action and submit a just INDC, our states must take on the task of reducing carbon emissions locally and leading the charge for local adaptation efforts.

The honest reality is that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is still not nearly enough. Even if the Plan goes through without being turned into a swiss cheese form of policy, the US still has a great deal of work to do in order to produce a plan to support the international effort to stay below the 2℃ warming limit. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan may be the best policy option that we have right now for greenhouse gas mitigation, but it is one of the many pieces of the global puzzle that currently are not adding up to meet climate stabilization goals.

States have the opportunity to lead on the development of climate policy internationally and must strive to go beyond their assigned carbon reduction targets. States must not make climate policy decisions from the perspective of a single-state actor, but rather, must recognize the larger global context and timeline in which they are situated. The means by which each state will develop, or fail to develop, climate policy will affect the international effort to build a successful climate treaty to support the development of just and stable word.


AoC Blog Mon, 08 Dec 2014 17:28:47 -0700