Switzer Fellow Climate Champions at COP21

Switzer Fellow Climate Champions at COP21

As world leaders gather in Paris for the long-awaited COP21 climate talks, Switzer Fellows are among the leaders pushing for positive action on climate. They are serving in roles varying from country delegation members, UN representatives and supporting roles with NGOs, indigenous groups and providing necessary research and data to be used in the ensuing talks, negotiations and meetings.

One major aspect of climate agreement negotiations has to do with economics –how will mitigation targets accounted for? How are these targets reviewed with transparency? What kinds of institutions must be designed to ensure accountability?

For example, Jasmine Hyman, 2015 Switzer Fellow at Yale University, is attending as an Economic Affairs Officer representing the Finance for Development office of UN Headquarters. She hopes to see resolution to the ambiguity surrounding climate financial accounting that has led to mistrust between developed and developing countries. Hyman says that “a clear accounting framework would be enormously helpful in the climate policy process.”

Joe Aldy, 2003 Switzer Fellow, Switzer Foundation Trustee and Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, has long been involved in the economic aspects of climate policy and will be participating in a December 9 event co-hosted by the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, where he will present his work on designing the institutions for assessing and comparing emission mitigation efforts among countries. “I hope that the negotiators agree on the transparency and related institutional infrastructure necessary to provide the foundation for a long-term, effective international framework”, says Aldy.  Aldy’s research is grounded in the recognition that transparency and review are critical elements of a new architecture for ensuring that international climate policy agreements work. 

At the country level, Sarah Lupberger, 2014 Switzer Fellow and Clinton-Fulbright Fellow with the Peru Ministry of Environment, is organizing an event that will present the advances of the Joint Declaration of Intent between Peru, Norway and Germany, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and promote sustainable development. As a member of the Peru delegation she will also be participating in events relating to REDD+ and more.

Among the opening announcements at COP21 was the global R&D effort titled "Mission Innovation," which seeks to double the amount of spending on clean energy R&D by a coalition of participating nations and companies. The second major announcement was India's launch of the "International Solar Alliance," a coalition of 120 countries who will cooperate to advance the spread of solar technologies.  

With that backdrop, Kartikeya Singh, 2014 Switzer Fellow, announced the release of a research paper, Business innovation and diffusion of off-grid solar technologies in India. This paper is part of a broader study that seeks to answer the question of whether (or not) off-grid solar technologies can scale up in India. Given the important role of India and other developing countries in the talks, these commitments and opportunities can influence the debate about emissions targets.

Alongside the focus on the elements and design of a workable international agreement, Fellows are collaborating with and supporting the underrepresented voices at the COP21 talks.

Kimberly Marion Suiseeya, 2006 Switzer Fellow and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Purdue University, is leading a research team that is conducting a collaborative event ethnography of COP21 by covering the internal political talks as well as Climate Generations area and other related events. The documentation hopes to illuminate how underrepresented groups pursue justice and representation in these large multi-national policy-making events. More information is available here.

Tracy Osborne, 2004 Switzer Fellow and Director of the Public Political Ecology Lab at the University of Arizona, worked on mapping fossil fuel reserves in the Amazon Basin that Amazon Watch and other activists want to have remain in the ground. These maps and interactive stories will be presented as part of indigenous community advocacy efforts and were developed as part of a Switzer Foundation Leadership grant to Amazon Watch for Tracy's work. 

Dave Kramer, 2004 Fellow and Senior Manager at Ecologic Development Fund, will be an attendee of the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)especially at and around the Thematic Pavilion co-sponsored by the Landscapes for People Food and Nature Initiative (LPFN). The pavilion is themed: “How integrated approaches to landscape management can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)".

Heather Coleman, 2003 Switzer Fellow and Climate Change Manager of Oxfam America will also be in Paris and has written about her goals and hopes for the Paris talks in this Switzer Foundation story from the Oxfam website.

Many NGOs and emerging international leaders are attending the event with the support of foundations like Global Greengrants Fund and the Compton Foundation. Sharon Smith, 2011 Switzer Fellow, is representing Global Greengrants Fund’s Next Generation Climate Board and coordinating a delegation of 15 youth from three continents, with the goal of elevating youth voices, especially from frontline communities. Jen Sokolove, 2000 Switzer Fellow, Program Director at Compton Foundation and Switzer Foundation Board Chair, is joining the US climate funders delegation, which is hoping for “an enforceable agreement with mechanisms to keep countries accountable to current commitments and to ratchet down emission levels out beyond 2030 to help us actually stay close to just a 2 degree C temperature rise.” According to Sokolove, many arts, culture and activism groups will be participating to help expand mobilization for action on climate change in the US “that demonstrates the breadth, size, and creativity of a growing (and loud) climate movement."

The Switzer Fellows in attendance are already demonstrating that breadth of dedication, experience and vision. We join them all and their colleagues in working towards real change on climate change.

Links to other articles and resources relating to Switzer Fellows’ COP-related work:

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