ICLEI USA and 350.org are taking a U.S. People’s Delegation to COP23, the 2017 Conference of the Parties organized under the UNFCCC. Below is a message from delegate Dyanna Jaye from Richmond, VA. COP 23 will take place in Bonn, Germany, from November 6-17, 2017 — you can support Dyanna’s role at the climate talks here.
After Harvey, Irma, Maria, it’s time to talk about climate change.
Everyday Americans will keep moving our country forward, despite Trump and his billionaire friends’ best attempt to stoke the flames of the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced.
On Dec. 12th, 2015, I sat with 5 young people in the UN plenary hall in Paris, France, as the gavel fell to ring in the Paris Climate Agreement. We were part of a US youth delegation to the UN Climate Talks. As cheers filled the hall, the young people in the room united in a mix of emotions — this Agreement is the largest step humanity has ever taken to halt climate change, yet we were clear eyed about the challenges on the road ahead, and wary of getting too hopeful.
Now, nearly two years later, we witness an America dealing with the worsening impacts of climate change. The American West is choking in smoke as wildfires ravage the dry lands. Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico are recovering from terrible floods from record setting hurricanes that plowed through communities. Beyond our borders, East Africa is suffering from famine and drought, and the death toll from flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh exceeds 1,200. Our weather patterns have become strange, severe, and unpredictable, and for millions of people, home doesn’t feel like home anymore. This is the work of climate change.
But, politicians in Washington are telling us now isn’t the time to talk about climate change. As the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, forcing the largest evacuation in US history, prepared to make landfall on Florida, our new Environmental Protection Agency Head Scott Pruitt said that now is not the time to “discuss the cause and effect of these storms.”
We say now is exactly the time to talk about it. Both the “causes” and “effects”of climate change have never been so clear. The effects are lost lives and livelihoods, and the causes are people like Scott Pruitt.
With the world beginning to take steps to combat climate change and move society off fossil fuels, Big Oil is up against the ropes around the world. But, in the US, it’s a different story. Under the Trump administration, their lobbyists, lawyers, and executives have found an opportunity to tighten their grip. Following their advice, Donald Trump has announced his intentions to make America a rogue nation by exiting the Paris climate agreement. Only Syria, a nation torn apart by civil war, keeps us company.
One of the key players doing Big Oil’s bidding is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. A long time ally of Big Oil and Gas, he’s made his career out of suing the very agency which he now runs. Fourteen times.
If you think the corruption and collusion couldn’t be more blatant, think again. Trump nominated, and Congress approved, ExxonMobil’s former CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as the face of our nation to the rest of the world as Secretary of State. This is the same ExxonMobil whose scientists knew that their products, fossil fuels, were causing climate change in the 1970s, and instead of doing something about it, spent millions of dollars deceiving the public and buying off politicians to block action. Rex Tillerson spent the last 40 years, his entire adult life, working for ExxonMobil. Now this November as Secretary of State, he’ll be representing our nation to the world at the next round of UN Climate Negotiations, where countries of the world will gather again to decide how to move forward with the Paris Agreement, now that the world’s largest economy has decided to sit on the sidelines. But Rex Tillerson won’t really be representing the American peoples’ interests at the negotiations in Germany, he’ll be representing the interests of oil executives like him.
That’s why I am part of the US People’s Delegation to the UN Climate Talks this November. The world needs to hear from us: the majority of Americans who believe we should be taking action with other countries to protect our health, home, and futures. I’m returning to the halls of negotiation to send a message that — though Trump and his billionaire friends may try to pull us backwards — we, everyday Americans, will keep moving our country forward. More, we’ll make sure our state and local politicians take the action we need to stop climate change and create good jobs in our communities.
The causes and effects of climate change have never been so clear. History will tell of the choices we made and where we stood in this critical moment. How will we be remembered?
This is the question we must ask the American people, our press, and politicians in the lead up to the UN Climate negotiations. On November 18th, the day after the UN negotiations have concluded, everyday Americans will gather at state capitols and city halls in a Day of Dedication to close the Climate Change Time Capsules. The time capsules will include objects that represent what we risk losing to climate change and what we’re fighting to protect, including seeds, photos of loved ones and loved places, and love letters to the future to tell what we did in our time to slow the ravage of climate change.
We’re putting Governors and Mayors on notice: they can join us and uphold the Paris Agreement by committing our states to 100% renewable energy and no fossil fuel development. Every politician who makes this commitment is invited to submit to the Time Capsule. They will be remembered as champions of the people. For those who don’t, history will tell how they failed us in this critical moment.
How will we be remembered? It’s up to each of us. See you on the 18th.
Dyanna Jaye is a member of the ICLEI-350.org’s US People’s Delegation to COP23 in Bonn, Germany. Dyanna co-founded the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition to unite students in the fight against environmental injustice. Recently, she started 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.