Meet the Delegates that Represented US at COP23
Bula! (Hello! Blessings of health and happiness!) This greeting from Fiji was the greeting of choice as Bonn, Germany hosted The UN Climate Change Conference, COP23, with Fiji presiding. Nations of the world met over the last two weeksto advance the Paris Agreement.
Despite the Federal Government’s stated intention to leave the Paris Agreement, the #USPeoplesDelegation was in Bonn, with cities and states, tribes, businesses, and academia representing the United States. The Delegation acted as a platform to show the force of U.S-based communities and everyday Americans, including frontline communities, indigenous communities, communities of color, youth, advocates, and policymakers pushing for climate action on the city and state level. Meet the delegates that attended:
- Dyanna Jaye grew up in Hampton Road, Virginia, a town bordered by seas rising a rate twice the national average, where flooding was “normal”. She is the cofounder of the youth climate action organization, Sunrise, a movement of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across the U.S. and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people. She does not mince words in her impassioned call to action, where she discusses current worldwide impacts, the US political climate and the imperative to speak out and act now.
- Bridget Tydor, a Senior City Planner for the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, representing the Mississippi River Delta region. She is working to provide planning that encompasses climate-impacts and believes the voice of the People needs to take a place of prominence in international climate talks.
- Cade Emory Terada, representing the circumpolar arctic, hails from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. He is attending Bonn to represent his community, which is the number one fishing port in the nation – by volume – think about ALL those fast food fish sandwiches. As a student at Green Mountain College, and previously an Arctic Youth Ambassador, he is the voice of Arctic youth.
- Scott Tess, Urbana, Illinois’ Sustainability Manager, implementing their Climate Action Plan. He has worked with neighborhoods and faith groups to help them reduce their climate impacts. He has helped group-solar-buying programs, and worked to safeguard wildlife and to create resilient food systems. Scott explains, ”less well known is the growing tidal wave of measures being deployed to mitigate and adapt to global warming. And often overlooked is the important role local governments and community organizations play. This is in contrast to some national governments, including the US, who are retreating from action on climate protection.”
- Daisy Guadalupe Romero, another student and youth climate activist who represented us in Bonn. She attends UC Berkeley and has witnessed poverty, lack of opportunity and poor air quality growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Hayward, CA. Daisy previously led bilingual climate change workshops in underserved areas as part of the Unite2Green – Hayward program.
- Justin Marquez, a CivicSpark AmeriCorps Fellow with the City of El Cerrito, California, is working on greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plan implementation. Justin is a strong advocate for community choice aggregation (CCA), an alternative to the traditional utility company and a winner for renewable energy utilization. After El Cerrito joined a CCA, 50% of its electricity came from renewables. Justin found that using renewable-energy was the City’s greatest emissions-reductions measure. In his reflections, Justin explains his reasons for representing us in Bonn: “It’s challenging to remain positive with the imminent threat of climate change and the seeming inaction of our federal government. But I see our local governments across the nation enacting climate action policy. I see people of my generation innovating renewable energy technologies, advocating for climate justice, and organizing their communities to be resilient, and this gives me hope.”
- Rhiannon Gallagher, from Wheatridge Colorado, started the JeffCo Climate Action Team in 2016 to bring together Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in her evenly split County so the towns could support the Paris Agreement. One of her strategies is sharing knowledge between cities and towns, to foster a community of learning and a shared vision for an economically and environmentally resilient future, independent of political leaning. Shared Vision Independent of Political Leaning! Yes we ALL want a resilient future!
In the face of inaction elsewhere, a coalition of local governments, organizations and everyday heroes have continued to act on climate change, and following COP23, the world knows it.