WSF Supports New COP17 Team

[blockquote]“The politics of climate change negotiations are as difficult as they come but allowing Kyoto to lapse would be a disaster…”[/blockquote]

John Howard, Nicole Rom and Paul Thompson
John Howard, Nicole Rom (WSF), and Paul Thompson

When we left the U.N. climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009 without a legally binding agreement that cuts global greenhouse gas emissions, we knew that the road ahead would be just as difficult for each subsequent negotiation. We also knew that the Kyoto Protocol would expire in 2012 and that the Copenhagen summit and subsequent meetings were critical for setting a new agreement post-Kyoto. What inspired us however was the incredible grassroots effort of people from across the globe, representing all ages and backgrounds, who were dedicating themselves to creating solutions to climate change at every level.

The Will Steger Foundation is excited to support two Edina, Minnesota residents, Paul Thompson, retired educator, and John Howard, a young climate leader, for their participation as WSF delegates at the 17th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa. As our delegates at these important climate change discussions and as an inter-generational team, these two community leaders from Minnesota will bring the story of the international discussions back home to Minnesota and also share with the global community the incredibly efforts underway in the U.S. to advance solutions to climate change.

Paul Thompson and John Howard
Paul and John

Thompson, age 63, is a retired elementary educator and community leader, a member of the City of Edina’s Energy & Environment Commission, Will Steger Foundation community educator for our Twin Cities high school leadership program, YEA! MN, and founder of Cool Planet. He is passionate about community-based solutions to climate change and mentoring young people. Howard, age 23, is a graduate of Edina High School and St. Olaf College, and is the leader of the local chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, as well as a member of the City of Edina’s Energy & Environment Education and Energy working groups and a Cool Planet board member. He is excited about a career in public service and plans to run for U.S. Congress in 2012 as a Republican against incumbent Erik Paulsen in the 3rd Congressional District.

Thompson and Howard are beginning their journey in Washington D.C. to meet with Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Director for the Special Envoy to Climate Change at the U.S. State Department, where they will deliver hundreds of statements from Minnesotan’s encouraging U.S. leaders to take climate change action seriously. Then, follow their journey online from November 22-December 20, 2011.

On Saturday December 3rd, we will co-host a videoconference with the team, live from Durban, at the Edina Public Library at 2:00 P.M. The goal of the event is to galvanize decision-makers, community members and youth to lead the transition to a clean energy economy through citizen action and support of U.S. climate leadership at the local, national and international level.

Follow their blogs at www.willstegerfoundation/cop17

Why they are going in their own words:

[blockquote]“I’m going to the Durban Climate Conference because I know that each of us make an enormous difference with our choices in life. Since my time in the Peace Corps in Borneo 40 years ago, I have worked on hunger, poverty, children’s issues and now the climate. My purpose is to connect people and resources to build loving, co-operative communities around the climate solutions movement. As a retired teacher I know that our best bet, as a planet, is to work with our youth. First by listening, and then by building deep relationships and partnerships so they know all generations care!  Shining the spotlight on John Howard (and all youth in Durban) and his and their boldest dreams to build a safe, healthy and sustainable world, is my greatest intention.” – Paul Thompson[/blockquote] [blockquote]“Climate change is a global problem and the U.N. climate negotiations are the best hope for an international agreement to solve the problem. The talks in Durban need to make progress as it is the last formal meeting before the Kyoto Protocol expires, which is currently the only international greenhouse gas emissions agreement in effect. I’m hoping COP 17 will give me insights on the international climate negotiations process and that I can pass along what I learn to those who are not in attendance. Whether or not COP 17 leads to a legally binding agreement, I want to know how it got there and how ordinary citizens can be involved in the process. I am running for U.S. Congress in the 2012 election, and the Durban COP17 talks will surely be a crash course in politics.” – John Howard[/blockquote]


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