In the past few days here in Paris, there’s been excitement about the possibility of including mention of a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature limit in the COP21 agreements, a shift from the historical limit of 2 degrees endorsed by most developed nations. World powerhouses like the U.S., Canada, China, and the EU have come out in support of a 1.5 degree agreement, showing solidarity with frontline communities in Africa that have long said a 2 degree rise in temperature would mean climate catastrophe.

It would seem, then, that COP21 may truly bring about justice for frontline... Read More

The Faces of Solar at COP21 (see part I)

Laura Stachel: Eliminating Childbirth Mortalities in Underserved Countries

In 2008, Dr. Laura Stachel traveled to northern Nigeria on a graduate research project. She spent two weeks observing care in a hospital as a part of a research program through University of California, Berkeley. As an obstetrician, her original purpose was to examine how to lower the staggeringly high rates of maternal death.

But the results of the experience were more salient than she expected — and not just for her project.

“There... Read More

That unifying moment that we’ve waited for has arrived: the moment that division and fear do not guide our behavior but, rather, hope and science coalesce to ignite a societal shift toward sustainability and justice. The 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), the United Nations Climate Negotiations, can be the foundation for such a collective movement for real change. Historically, human civilization has been divided. Rulers and their subjects, the proletariat and bourgeois, the 99% and the 1% — they collectively embody a common theme of power — those who have it and those who don’t.... Read More

In 1977, the world was just beginning to learn about solar power. With only 500 kW worth of panels installed worldwide, one watt of solar-produced energy sold for a staggering $76 USD. Also that year, the now-ubiquitous solar-powered calculators first came to market.

Forty years later, the total installed solar power in the world has increased by a factor of 500, and the same amount of solar energy now costs only $0.61 — nearly a 100% decrease. Solar energy has transcended from low-consumption devices to now powering entire office buildings and neighborhoods (and, in the case of... Read More

“Take action.” These are the two words young people are most frequently met with when we ask what we can do about climate change. These are also two of the most frustrating words in the English language. What does “taking action” really mean? Considering the urgency and scale of catastrophic climate change, what can young people do to make a significant difference, and push for the sort of bold solutions we need to protect the one planet we have?

There’s an evolution of perspective and behavior change whenever someone first learns about climate change. The first step is... Read More

Within moments of stepping into the grand doors of Le Petit Palais for the COP21: Earth to Paris event, a gust of innovation and a spirit for change was quickly noticeable. Standing next to the likes of environmental activist Alec Baldwin, Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and renowned primatologist Jane Goodall was both humbling and frightening. The question quickly hit me: What am I doing here?

I’ll admit: I’ve never considered myself to be an avid conservationist. I’ve always recognized the importance of protecting the planet, but I would have... Read More

As I sit in Le Petit Palais at the UN Foundation’s “Earth to Paris” — a convergence of influential climate speakers — it doesn’t feel so petit to me. Pink lights cascade across the ornate and painted ceiling, which looms dozens of feet high. Voices of inspiration reverberate through the hall as speakers address eager ears, all talking about the importance of climate action.

For a while, I was fearful that COP21 wouldn’t bring about strong enough solutions, and fearful that the climate is quickly becoming too broken to fix. The news is constantly filled with horror stories of... Read More

A new voice emerged at COP for the low-lying island nations subject to the immediate effects of climate change, and it’s 18-year-old Aussie-Filipino poet Eunice Andrada.

The teenager is one of a team of four poets who travelled to Paris for COP21 from the islands of Samoa, the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, and Guam to tell their nations’ stories of climate change in a voice that may speak louder than delegations, legal jargon, and policy positions can. 

On Monday, December 7, Andrada opened the day at Earth to Paris, a side event held at Le Petit Palais accompanying... Read More

It’s 7:30 pm in Denver, CO, where my Iceland Air flight took off from a few hours ago. After we land, I’ll have a brief stopover in Reykjavik en route to Paris, France. Following years of unsuccessful climate change conferences and the tragic and barbaric attacks on Paris a few weeks ago that almost brought the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to a halt before it’d even begun, the world waits with bated breath to see what will come of these ever-important climate change negotiations. For two weeks, delegates from almost 200 countries around the world — including President Barack Obama —... Read More