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November 13, 2015 | Why We Are Attending the Climate Change Talks In Paris

Most conferences offer myriad opportunities for companies and industry lobbies to get their names in front of attendees – putting up a booth, slapping your logo on Happy Hour napkins and the like.

But at the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris next month, where 190 countries will work to achieve a legally binding climate agreement to keep the planet habitable, Conergy decided to take an alternative path, one that we hope will have a bigger impact (for the same cost) in elevating solar at these incredibly important negotiations. 

Conergy is taking 10 students (out of 300 applicants, an acceptance rate of 3.4%) to Paris as journalists and activists, as "Future Solar Leaders". They will interview conference attendees about solar and renewables, investigate their policies and statements at the negotiations, and write five articles each that amplify leadership or hypocrisy. The articles will appear on Conergy’s blog.

That’s 50 blog posts by passionate solar industry advocates, an unprecedented amount of solar coverage, which we seek to cross-post on other blogs to broaden its reach.

We know the solar industry has a critical role to play in mitigating climate change and believe journalism and social media can influence the outcome of the talks and elicit concrete commitments to increase solar’s penetration across the globe.

As a global solar company with a mission "to preserve the planet and power the world," we care deeply that success is achieved at COP21 and are trying to do our part.

About the Future Solar Leaders:
We chose the Future Solar Leaders based on their prior experience in environmental leadership, excellence in verbal communication and writing, and proven ability to take risks in networking environments. They have collective experience working for major environmental NGOs and government agencies, including 350.org’s Fossil Free Campaign, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, Citizen’s Engagement Lab (CEL), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Senate, TEDx, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The students are also collectively fluent in Chinese, Spanish, French and Hindi.

Here are the names and brief bios of our Ambassadors, so you can get to know them and follow their reports as they sail around the web:                                                              

Eric Beeler, a sophomore studying International Affairs and Chinese at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., has been interested in the topics of climate change and renewable energy for many years. Having spent a year of high school studies in China, Eric has seen the environmental impact of rapid economic development in emerging countries around the world.                       

Hailing from the foothills of east Tennessee, Zach Bielak is a recent graduate from Rice University, where he majored in mechanical engineering with a sustainability slant. Currently, he is pursuing a Watson Fellowship, analyzing the social repercussions of sustainable designs in six different countries over the course of a year.

Christina Cilento is a junior at Northwestern University where she studies Learning and Organizational Change, with an emphasis in environmental policy and sustainability. She serves as a leader in several environmental organizations, including her student government's Sustainability Committee, Fossil Free NU (a student-led divestment movement), and In Our Nature environmental magazine, which she co- founded her sophomore year.

Rohith Desikan is a first year Master’s student studying Civil and Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Atmosphere/Energy at Stanford University. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering with an Energy Systems concentration. Having grown up all over Asia, he has developed a global perspective on problems such as climate change and poverty.

Shana Gallagher is an aspiring marine conservation biologist and climate change activist and currently attends Tufts University in Boston. She is the head of Tufts Climate Action, which champions her school's divestment campaign, and has been doing environmental and grassroots organizing for most of her life.

Emma Hutchinson is a junior at Stanford University, where she is studying environmental science and economics. Her fundamental passion lies in communicating science to the public, which she plans to apply in the fields of environmental policy, journalism, and community development.                                                                                                                 

Jake Kornack is a passionate environmental activist, progressive, and feminist who is dedicated to creating a more just and sustainable future. He is currently majoring in economics and history at Willamette University, where he has continued the advocacy work he began in high school, bringing together key professors to discuss a redesign of capitalism, working to advance the sustainability goals of the campus, and being the only student in the nation to attend a White House summit on sustainability.                   

Caroline Saunders is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. It's her life ambition to solve the energy-environment crisis and retire comfortably on a blueberry farm.                                                 

Salwa Shameem is a second-year Master's in Public Policy candidate at the University of Chicago, with a special concentration in development economics and international policy. She seeks to understand the ways in which policy creation, implementation, and evaluation can impact poverty alleviation in various global and domestic communities. She is passionate about energy and environmental policy.

In Fall 2014, Kyle Sundman founded DU Solar, the first organization at the University of Denver (Colorado) dedicated to finding renewable energy solutions for the campus. His work in helping to rebrand the university as a forward thinking, progressive leader in sustainability landed him an invitation to be a panelist at the American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) Summit in Aspen, Colo., this year.