Paris Is Not a Destination, But a Road to the Future

2015-12-10-15-36-24-bike-rusnWith the theme of the day being that we need to keep the momentum going, I decided to find out how to do that. So, today I interviewed people with the question, “What 2-3 actions are you going to take after COP21?”

I had to start with myself so that I knew what to work on when I get back.

  • I am going to advocate for installing solar on our school building. We use a lot of electricity and we need to make it greener.
  • I am also going to share with my students and others what I found out at COP21. I had no idea how far behind we were compared to many parts of the world in deploying renewable energy and energy conservation methods.
  • Finally, I am also going to work on getting climate literacy standards into the Minnesota education standards. We need to make sure that we have strong standards in our own educational system to prepare and train the next generation of climate leaders.

2015-12-10-15-38-08-actionKristy, another Education Ambassador, said that she is going to talk to her district to make sure that a proposed solar garden will happen and maybe also call for adding wind. She is also going to look into the possibility of divestment for her teacher union, Education Minnesota, and their retirement portfolios, to make sure they are not supporting fossil fuels. Lastly, she will revisit all of her classrooms and talk to them about what she has gained at COP21.

Today, we heard from two guest speakers with Pole to Paris, who shared their incredible journey to COP21. Dan biked from New Zealand to Paris, and has not been home since last April. He and Erlend, who ran to Paris from Norway, were raising public awareness of the climate impacts already taking place in the Arctic. Climate change is warming the Arctic regions two times faster than anywhere else in the world. Post-COP21, Dan said he was going to decompress and decide what to do next. Oria who ran as well, said social media can be used to help maintain the momentum, “as long as it is used a a tool, not a lifestyle.”

2015-12-10-15-37-53-HcuNext, I spoke with a student demonstrating for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, #HBCUatCOP21, and she said those students have made a blueprint for what to do next, so she will go back to her college and follow it.

Paul Thompson, who is recording citizens’ voices and posting them on youtube through his group, Cool Planet, said that he will be having a panel discussion on January 8th in Linden Hills.

I also asked a well known climate educator and environmental activist who has been working tirelessly at COP21, and he said that first he was going to sleep, and then he was going after Exxon.

Finally, I spoke with Beth Mercer-Taylor, the Sustainability Education Coordinator at the University of Minnesota. She is going to work on getting young people to run for energy coop positions. She said that the Netherlands and Germany train and educate their youth be part of the local utility co-ops (check out www.Rescoop.eu). In Minneapolis, we have a group called Community Power that is challenging our state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, to provide community-owned energy options.

The bottom line is, Paris and COP21 is not an end point of climate action, but just the beginning.

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