Live from Hopenhagen: A Dose of Optimistic Reality

Cross-posted from Energy Action Coalition,

Greetings from Copenhagen,

It’s been an exciting and complex couple days at the UN climate summit. Despite all the talk about so-called “Climategate” at home, the focus here in Copenhagen is centered on the debate at hand, how will we actually address the catastrophic impacts of global climate change, a scientific reality the world has already agreed is a threat to our planet, people, and economies.

With a long set of negotiations ahead of us, and plenty of reasons to be concerned with the final outcome, I see some important and powerful glimmers of hope in the the maze of hurdles that lie ahead. I was especially energized yesterday afternoon, when I had a real “pinch me” moment as I received a personal phone call from Lisa Jackson, our fearless EPA administrator, who, proud of her agency’s endangerment finding announcement, called to celebrate the victory. I was particularly moved that Administrator Jackson recognized the efforts of the youth climate movement, and that she would take the time to thanks us for our hard work, refusal to settle, and for keeping the pressure on when backing down might have been easier or more politically convenient.

I was also excited to hear from Rachel Butler of our partner, SustainUS, that at today’s briefing to the US from Jonathan Pershing, David Sandalow, and Administrator Jackson, youth filled up three quarters of the room and waved in unison when the first young person was called on to ask a question. We showed up in force, asked 6 out of the 9 questions that were taken, and asked tough questions about the US’s official position on 350ppm, paying our climate debt, and how the recent EPA announcement (woo-hoo!) will strengthen the US’s targets.

The momentum that we’ve been building all year – that rose to a peak with last week’s youth climate movement meeting with President Obama’s top White House officials – seems to be exploding, and is matched by the pure passion and savviness of youth movement around the world.

The bottom line is that our administration is on the global stage these next weeks, the progress and lack of progress our country has demonstrated makes the role of us as the people of the US more important than ever.

If you want to be a part of the action here from home (and set the record straight for folks who are actually debating whether global warming exists in the media!), you might want to submit a video question to CNN & YouTube. They have set up a massive video cube in the center of the city that people are encouraged to submit videos to be displayed above the historic festivities. Here is how you can easily contribute and make sure your voice is heard.

  1. Submit videos that have you asking the tough questions to be displayed on the cube[1] and considered for inclusion in an upcoming CNN show at
    • Here are some great questions the attendees of last week’s youth Clean energy Forum came up with.
  2. Join the Power Shift Copenhagen Rapid Responder Team so that on a moment’s notice we can generate thousands of phone calls, get our message out to the media, and effectively mobilize together.

The pressure is on all of us. I’ve been anticipating this trip all year, and suddenly it just got a lot more real. Headed back to my hotel to reflect on what could come out of these negotiations, I decided I would not submit to the skepticism. Rather, I felt a renewed sense of optimism. It was a sense that our administration has made strides in the right direction, and I am more confident than ever that our movement will finally thrive on the full force of our collective actions and power. Jessy Tolkan Executive Director Energy Action Coalition


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