This is the full text I was supposed to read at the 350 Day of Action.  The Cincinnati weather was freezing and windy, and the Fountain was spraying all over us.  So I cut it short for the sake of my audience, leaving out all the political nuances.  I said I would post it online for those who were interested–so here it is:

Hello. My name is Elizabeth Trombley, and I am a recent graduate from the University of Cincinnati. I studied International Affairs; I don’t have much of a background in environmentalism or climate change. Although I have long maintained an observer’s interest in environmental issues, I became actively involved after I attended PowerShift, a movement of concerned youth in Washington DC this past February. It instilled in me a sense of urgency when I realized that whatever humanity does today, will be my generation’s responsibility to deal with tomorrow. I want to make sure I will be dealing with a better world.

Perhaps it is this determination, combined with my background in global issues, that I was chosen by SustainUS to be one of 30 youth delegates to the watershed UN talks in Copenhagen this December.

SustainUS is an organization dedicated to sustainability and empowering youth worldwide. It is the only organization of its kind in the country. For the last eight years, SustainUS has been increasing youth stakeholder involvement at the UN. We are an accredited NGO that engages our policymakers at the international level.

This year at Copenhagen, we will join over 500 international youth form around the world to seek to ensure a bold, binding and just international climate treaty as our leaders discuss emission reduction targets, adaptation methods, mitigation opportunities, and ways to reduce global deforestation.

The conference is taking place from 7-18th of December in Copenhagen, Denmark. Officials from 192 countries, plus non-governmental organizations (like SustainUS!), and a large media contingent will be in attendance.

The treaty that will result from this is intended to take over for the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012. All year, there have been ongoing negotiations to hammer out the details, but with only six weeks to go, there are still some serious issues that need to be worked out. 

For instance, science says that greenhouse gas emissions MUST reach their peak by 2020 to avoid catastrophic climate change. Emissions must be reduced by about 80-90% by 2050. Industrialized nations will need to reduce their output by about 25-40% within the next ten years to achieve  this. The problem is that these same nations’s commitments almost universally fall well short of the science.

Poor and developing nations of the world, like China, India, Brazil, Mexico and others, have all called for science-based pledges, and they resent richer nations’ lack of initiative when these nations are the ones most able to effect change.

Also note that India and China, along with the US, are the three key players at Copenhagen. Both India and China have huge national carbon emissions—China’s are now greater than the US’ even though their per capita emissions are very low—and both have indicated that they will not commit to reduce their emissions on the grounds that they have to alleviate poverty. The US is leery of making commitments when other major carbon emitters hesitate to commit—and the rest of the world sees no reason to be more ambitious when the US, historically the largest emitter, will not commit. Thus, the main hurdle to be cleared right now is not technical, it is political.

It is critical that we come to some type of international agreement this December. We have an ever-diminishing window of time to reverse carbon emissions and see that we do not create runaway climate change. But politics are not only global—the US faces similar issues domestically, as I am sure you are aware. Since the US is seen as a world leader on this issue, and other nations are not likely to feel obligated to solve the problem if our country—contributing 25% of global carbon emissions—sits idle. And US negotiators are liable to be forced to sit idle if Congress has not passed some type of legislation prior to the talks—our negotiators will simply be unable to negotiate without the legal go-ahead. Therefore, it is critical to the international agreement process that Congress pass climate legislation before December.

As a youth delegate to these talks, I am going to feel pretty embarrassed if I have to walk in without the US passing some type of legislation. But, there is something you can do to help. The House of Representatives has already passed ACES bill. Up now in the Senate is the Kerry-Boxer bill in the Senate.

Both need to be passed to be signed into law. This bill will need 60 Senatorial votes to pass—and we need to obtain those votes quickly. The healthcare debate has raged on for many months; we need to push the climate bill through much more quickly. And this is where you can help. Your Congressmen depend on citizens to guide their course of action—if they move slowly, it’s because they are getting mixed signals from their constituents. Likewise, massive support for bold climate legislation will ensure that bold climate legislation gets passed—quickly! I am asking you to contact your Senators—George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown—and let them know they need to pass strong climate legislation before the UN meets in Copenhagen. Senator Brown is fence-sitting on this issue—concerted citizen involvement can make all the difference! He needs to hear from you! Senator Voinovich has traditionally tried to build bipartisan compromises—he too is on the fence! That’s right, BOTH of our state’s senators can make a difference, if you tell them too!

Their local offices are right here in town, and I have been to both of them—you can walk in and speak with a representative. It is even more effective to contact their Washington DC offices—either by phone or by letter. There is contact information over there complete with talking points. I hope you can support me in this way.

While I am on the subject of support, I would like to add that I am required to fundraise for my trip to Copenhagen. I am doing this in a variety of ways—you can make a direct contribution to my organization, SustainUS, either online or by check. You can also donate directly to me, and I guarantee I will get the money where it needs to go.

I am also maintaining an online electronics-drive, so if you are not comfortable donating money, you can instead trade in any unwanted electronics on my behalf. All of this information is available on the table over there. I would also encourage you to take a look at my blog, which is where I update my progress on the road to Copenhagen. You can find it at http://www.LizToCopenhagen.wordpress.com. Again, this information is on the table over there.

Thank you for your attention and support.

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