Meet Our COP23 Delegation: Ian Empson

Ian Empson is a member of Climate Generation’s Window Into COP23 program, a multi-sector delegation attending the United Nation Framework on Climate Change Convention’s 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bonn, Germany. Our delegates will observe sessions and interact with climate change policy negotiations across international leaders and stakeholders.

Ian Empson is a high school junior from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has a strong interest in both Biology and Earth Sciences. Winter is Ian’s favorite time of year. Unfortunately, Minnesota winters have become shorter and warmer, which negatively impacts Ian’s favorite competitive sports: alpine slope style skiing and Nordic racing. Participating in the April 2016 Climate March in Washington, D.C motivated Ian to become more involved with climate change issues. He plans on using his photographic eye to convey COP23 to his classmates and youth throughout America. His photography is available on his website:

How does climate change affect your community sector?

Climate change affects my community sector in many ways. As youth, we are the future and the driving force towards halting climate change. Overcoming this growing issue could not be possible without education on the subject. As my generation grows older, it is imperative that we are brought up learning the truth about climate change. Far too many kids my age still don’t believe in climate change. This may sound sad, but I strongly believe that with recent hurricanes like Harvey and Irma, we will see more and more youth trying to do their part in preventing the effects of climate change.

How can the youth sector contribute to climate change solutions and help us uphold our commitment to the Paris Agreement?

Finding the most effective ways to solve the issue of climate change may be up to the professionals, but the youth can do the rest. Youth have some of the most creative minds. With our creative minds, we can always find ways to get people interested in learning more about climate change as well as getting people on board with performing simple acts such as recycling or carpooling. I have heard young students perform spoken word and songs discussing real challenges we face due to climate change, which were far more moving than the hard data. I believe that the youth can without a doubt get local politicians on board with the Paris Agreement, even if the federal government can’t.

Why are you excited to attend COP23? What are you most looking forward to?

I think what I’m most excited for is getting to meet people from all across the world who are all interested in one topic, climate change. I am also excited to listen to other nation’s ideas about how climate change should be tackled. I strongly believe that there is always more to learn and I’m excited to open my ears to new ideas.

What change or progress do you hope comes from the conference, whether that’s personally or politically?

As a high schooler, I still have so much to learn. By attending the conference I hope to achieve a better understanding of the issues of climate change. I am looking forward to hearing other attendees’ stories. On top of this, as a youth I feel as if it is my obligation to better understand what young kids like myself can do to stop the rising threat of climate change. Climate change aside, I also want to get a better insight on how nations can come together to achieve progress.

Where is your favorite place to be outdoors in Minnesota?

My favorite place to be outdoors in Minnesota is definitely anywhere along the North Shore of Lake Superior. My family and I have been traveling there since I was little, and I can’t think of a better place in Minnesota to be outdoors. There are endless hiking trails, vistas, and camping spots. When you’re in need of a rest, nothing beats hammocking among the millions of pines.

Do you want to bring the COP23 experience to your desktop or mobile screen? Sign up to receive updates from our Window Into COP23 delegation. You will receive a daily e-update from Nov. 6–17, providing you access to blogs, webinars, and an inside look at the climate progress and negotiations happening across international leaders.

Follow our delegates on Twitter and Instagram at @climategenorg, and participate in the global COP23 conversation with #MNCOP23, #unite4climate, and #actonclimate.

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