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SustainUS Statement on CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley's Departure

SustainUS COP 19 delegates stage a protest at the Poland climate talks calling for strong climate action by the US government.

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On Tuesday December 3, Nancy Sutley announced that she will be stepping down from her role as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in February 2014. “SustainUS greatly appreciates Ms. Sutley’s work over the last five years, especially regarding development of the new vehicle fuel efficiency standards and the President’s Climate Action Plan. As a youth organization, we are focused on fighting for the rights of future generations, and we found an ally in Ms. Sutley,” commented SustainUS Chair Matt Maiorana.

Read more: SustainUS Statement on CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley's Departure

SustainUS holds a Side Event with the Republic of Ecuador

According to a research conducted by United Nations, over the last two decades, the number of recorded natural disasters has doubled from approximately 200 to over 400 per year. Nine out of every ten of these disasters have been climate related. You never truly believe or know the exact meaning of something unless you see it and get involved. For me, from my previous perspective, I thought Pacific Ocean should be as pacific as its name indicated. Thanks to the opportunity provided by SustainUS, I got a chance to get involved in climate change dialogue, I got to know the heartbreaking facts of global warming, especially in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS)——those who contributed the least to this unprecedented crisis are suffering the most cruel punishment revenged by the nature.

In responding to the inaction of those who caused the climate crisis but refuse to take the responsibility to solve, 800 members of civil society walked out of the talks in COP19 today. The Parties, notably US, Japan, Australia, and Canada, badly influenced by a massive fossil fuel lobby, are making the negotiations worse enough, their inconsistency on the commitment of adaptation fund and carbon cuts are costing lives, as they applauding themselves in the conference center, the Philippines are still counting losses from Typhoon Haiyan which hit the islands several days before. The nature has alarmed us, the impact of climate change isn't something that awaits in a far-off, distant future, they're happening now. As long as we know how serious a problem climate change has become, we will understand there is no time to wait.

Tonight at 8pm, SustainUS held a side event in COP19 together with The Republic of Ecuador. As the co-coordinator of this side event with Ecuador government, I honorably worked together with the government over the last five months, and with the help of Andrew Spiteri, we worked out the side event titled of “Net Avoided Emissions: A Concrete Solution to Address Climate Change in Small Islands Development States and Other Developing Countries.” This dialogue took place today in Conference Room Torun, Ecuador government addressed the Net Avoided Emissions Initiative, which is a way that could help developing countries to develop without contributing to the furtherance of climate change. Following this, I presented my research paper, Small Islands, Vast Oceans and Shared Challenges: Linkage between South-North-South on Climate Change, which aims to promote cooperation between South and North on technology transfer and best practice exchanges. Our other respected panelists in the panel have made three clear points about adaptation on climate change, they are:

  • Efforts should be made to encourage creation and implementation of adaptation funds in LDCs and SIDS.
  • Efforts should be made to establish international climate risk insurance to address losses and damages caused by nature disasters. 
  • Funding must prioritize projects in LCDs and SIDS due to their heightened to the effects of climate change,

However, as a cross-border issue, climate change are turning into an “epidemic.” There is still a long way to go, we expect there will be more efficient dialogues in future, because compared to the tremendous nature, time is not on our side; we need to increase ambition in every track of possible negotiations, not for the game between the great powers, but for our survival in a rapidly changing world.

With infinite amounts of respect,

SustainUS holds press conference calling for strong EPA action

SustainUS delegate Ryan Madden's press conference remarks about EPA regulations:

My name is Ryan Madden, a member of the SustainUS youth delegation from the United States. I have chosen to fast over the past 10 days to join Philippines commissioner Yeb Saño in standing in solidarity with the people of the Philippines and to remind my community and my country of the human cost of inaction on climate change. The United States has a significant opportunity to lead on climate and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I am here to ask my fellow Americans to urge the EPA to craft ambitious climate regulations that significantly reduce carbon pollution and put our country on the path to a clean energy future.

The EPA has a unique opportunity to lead on climate action by crafting aggressive carbon emission regulations for existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. Due out in June, these regulations allow the EPA to bypass a dysfunctional Congress that has refused to adequately respond to the urgency of climate change.

In designing these regulations, the Agency has substantial discretion. Strong regulations will reduce carbon emissions from existing plants upward of 26% below 2005 levels, by the end of the decade. By implementing ambitious regulations, the EPA can help address the root cause of climate-intensified disasters and reduce the future impacts of such calamities.

The U.S's long-touted excuse for not signing onto an international climate treaty has been eroded by developing countries that are leading on climate action. India has instituted a carbon tax on coal, and Kazakhstan has crafted a national cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions. Developing countries are on a path to swiftly capture any claims of climate leadership from the United States.

Action on a domestic level determines international outcomes at the UNFCCC. Weak EPA power plant regulations will fail to achieve President Obama's Copenhagen carbon reduction commitments and could derail international climate talks, as happened in the 1990s when the U.S. backed out of the Kyoto Protocol. On the other hand, strong regulations would ensure the U.S. surpasses Obama’s Copenhagen commitments and would demonstrate strong American leadership on climate. The fate of the Paris 2015 climate talks could be determined by the decisions the EPA makes in the coming months.

I urge American citizens to call for ambitious EPA carbon regulations. I call for this not as an angry young man, but as a youth weary of the future. I cannot wake up tomorrow morning and craft policy, but the civil servants at the Environmental Protection Agency can. To those civil servants: do not forgot what is at stake with your decisions. Do not forget the victims of Hurricane Katrina, superstorm Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan. Now is the time to take real action on climate.