Greetings. I write from the Green Zone of COP21 on the last day of the negotiations, and I am feeling deeply inspired about what I have seen and experienced over the last week.
Serving as an Education Ambassador with Climate Generation during the UNFCCC COP21 negotiations is one of the greatest honors that I have received as an educator. The most meaningful component of this program was sharing it with my students through use of Climate Generation’s curriculum as well as through my blog posts and live webinar.
I will be incorporating this experience into my classroom for years to come, as the Paris Agreement represents the most important decision made on climate change since the UNFCCC first convened. At this time, I am unaware of what the official final outcomes will be, but observers are hopeful that a target of 1.5ºC will be set, along with a strong outline of how to get there and a just acknowledgement of human rights.
My participation in these historic negotiations has granted my students and I the opportunity to experience the transformational energy of this kind of event. I have met so many inspiring community members from all over the world, and I am so excited to share their stories with my students. We’ll need the contributions of all our global community members working together as part of a team to make the goal of 100% renewable energy a reality.
The world as we know it is on the line right now, and we must use the momentum that these negotiations have created to ensure that we stay on track to meet the goals that will ultimately be set. However, regardless of what targets are set here at COP21, we all have a personal responsibility to ensure that we continue the conversation on climate change and bring it into the communities in which we live. I am confident that the diverse group of individuals who attended this conference – as well as those who were unable to do so – will continue to carry the torch and will be successful in bringing in more partners into this growing the movement.
I want desperately to believe that aggressive actions will be taken and the worst effects of climate change will be avoided, but the truth is that we are going to see some devastating impacts of our choices. It is very scary for me to think what these events will look like, as we have already begun to witness the tragic reality of this crisis. I pledge to do everything that I can to educate and advocate for actions that share the knowledge of climate science as well as the actions that are needed to help us reduce the powerful effects of climate change.
Due to this reality, the conference often referenced the need for adaptation as well as mitigation. It was difficult to hear about those regions around the world that are currently facing harmful effects of climate change, and, sadly, these areas and the stories that come out of them will undoubtedly continue to be impacted; on the positive side so will the inspirational stories of grit and determination.
One of those stories that resonated deeply with me was the story of Kisilu, who is a farmer, husband and father of nine boys and girls in Kenya. The life that he lives has been transformed as a result of climate change: he is currently facing droughts as well as flooding events. His approach to these tragedies has been to find what he can do, which is planting trees on his property to maintain soil health as well as prevent erosion. This inspirational community member is also educating his fellow farmers on the knowledge that he has gained on this practice and is making major contributions in his local community as well as around the world. This is the message that I will be sharing with my students and this is the challenge that I am giving to myself.
On this day, Friday December 11, 2015, I commit to continue to take further action on climate change and I pledge to do everything that I can to protect and preserve the environment for future generations.