Today was a day of inspiration.
My morning started with a plenary by former Vice President, Al Gore. In a presentation that lasted over an hour, he made a compelling case for why climate change is the greatest moral crisis of our time. Similar to his documentaries, but updated with the latest information and events, he outlined the scale of the problem as well as the impacts on our environment and our lives. Steeped in the gravity of the situation, his speech was ultimately optimistic. He reminded us that the technology exists now (focusing on wind and solar) and is ready to scale. And, in addition to having technology, we also have public support. What we need now is policies. It was a good message in the final days of COP24 and one which hopefully inspires and motivates the negotiators!
The audience listening to Al Gore’s plenary was, by nature of a COP, very international, and the presentation spoke to the audience. There were many examples pulled from throughout the world. Imagine my delight when Mr. Gore highlighted the recent Xcel Energy announcement. Xcel is a large utility partner for Best Buy, covering our headquarters, a number of store locations across multiple states, and millions of our customers. With their recent announcement to produce 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, Xcel became the first major utility to build a plan to transition away from fossil fuels. #Inspired
I was also able to attend some of the Talanoa Dialogues as well.
The Talanoa Dialogue, a tradition from Fiji and other Pacific island nations, uses storytelling to build trust and understanding to then arrive at consensus and more inclusive decisions. I heard Switzerland commit to reviewing their commitments to make sure they align with the latest IPCC report. I was also able to hear the Marshall Islands speak. Seen as excellent negotiators, the Marshall Islands have been central to these talks, really pushing the countries for more ambition as well as for developed countries. In their Talanoa, they stated that “there is a clear moral obligation for the countries who have caused the problems we are facing to help.”
Earlier this week, I briefly met Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen who is going on strike from school each Friday until her country is in line with the Paris Agreement. She has inspired many people, including me, to think about climate change through her perspective. I have three daughters — one the same age as Greta and then twin middle schoolers.
2030 and 2050 timelines are often used when talking about climate change goals. For many in my generation, these dates sound very far in the future, and yet when you look through the lens of the middle schooler or teen, these timeframes are the middle of their lives. My middle schoolers will just be finishing college in 2030, and my teen and Greta will be my age in 2050.
The changing climate will be a core part of their lives. Let’s hope strong commitments are made here in Katowice so they can live in a carbon neutral economy.