Today was our first day at the actual COP21 meetings. The day started off with a picture taken with the President of Mozambique. I then went to the green zone and was immersed in information. I focused my day on energy.
To start off with, I went to listen to four U.S. states discus key actions they are taking to address climate change and boost clean energy markets. The four states, which are leading the U.S. transition to clean energy, were California, Washington, New York and Vermont. There were several speakers featured at the event, including three governors. It was great to hear that Vermont is now getting 30% of their energy from renewable sources while also boasting one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. 5% of the state’s jobs are tied to renewable energy. California has set an ambitious goal of sourcing 30-40% of their energy from solar, and are now working to figure out storage. Washington state, for its part, has only one more coal plant to retire before being entirely coal-free. Due to the climate impacts they are already are experiencing in the form of wildfires, lack of snow cover, and ocean acidification, state leaders want to be completely off fossil fuels and onto renewable energy. New York is promoting a competitive market for renewables and thinks that utility companies need to stop being protected in the energy market. The session ended with the Governors signing a bilateral agreement with France to work together on the energy transition.
I also went to listen to what will be happening with the airline industry. They have three goals:
- Improve fuel efficiency
- Stabilize emissions of CO2 by 2020
- Halve aviation’s net CO2 by 2050
Industry leaders have plans to redesign aircraft, introduce new ideas on air traffic, and incorporate the use biofuels. Europe is way ahead of the U.S. in making some of these changes. I am hopeful that we will get on board after Paris.
The day was exhilarating, with so much information to take in. The best quote I got from the day? “ Don’t trust anyone whose goal isn’t under 2 degrees.” The day gave me hope that we can make significant changes quickly.
This blog post was also published on the Huffington Post! View that version here.