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Climate Conversations – From Grassroots to Government

By Tori Scarzello '13

From international agreements to community-based actions, policymakers and citizens play active and important roles in the efforts to mitigate climate change and its impacts. This spring, two separate lectures – one by climate activists, the other by an expert on climate policy – offered unique perspectives on the issues that grassroots movements and governments alike seek to address, as well as the actions that these groups are taking, through their efforts to fight against climate change in the United States.

Bill McKibben Joins Earth Week Climate Justice Discussion

As part of Earth Week at Boston College, three members of 350.org visited the University to speak about climate injustice and shed light on the uneven impacts of climate change felt around the globe. “The Global Struggle for Climate Justice” was presented by Bill McKibben, Co-Founder and Senior Advisor at 350.org, and Koreti Mavaega Tiumalu and Ferrial Adam, coordinators for the organization’s Pacific and Africa-Arab regions, respectively. The three discussed the impacts of climate change currently being felt in these regions, where rising sea levels and temperatures, acidifying oceans, and extreme weather events are already having devastating effects on ecosystems and lives. The communities and nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are often those who have done the least to cause climate change in the first place. This reality is a prime example of climate injustice.

Rooted in the environmental justice movement, climate justice is a growing movement that aims to alleviate and eliminate such unequal burdens created by climate change. As perhaps the most globally recognized campaign for climate justice, 350.org’s work reflects the scale and magnitude of the climate crisis. Founded in 2007, 350.org supports locally-driven campaigns around the globe, encouraging citizens to take collective action to fight for climate justice. More than just an international environmental organization, 350.org is a global grassroots movement dedicated to reducing the harmful amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through people-centric solutions to the climate crisis.

A leader in the movement to take substantial steps to address climate change, McKibben is an environmentalist and influential author whose works have shaped public perception on climate change, alternative energy, and the need for more localized economies. He is the author of over a dozen books about the environment, including the 1989 publication The End of Nature, often regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change.

In addition to sharing their personal experiences dealing with climate injustices around the world, the three speakers also offered actions that can be taken in the United States, the Greater Boston area, and on college campuses to help fight against the effects of climate change felt across the planet.

The talk was held on April 16th and hosted by EcoPledge – BC’s largest student-led environmental advocacy group.

Political Science Department International Politics Lecture Series Previews Upcoming UN Climate Change Conference

On April 23rd, the BC Political Science Department hosted a talk by Joseph Aldy, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, as part of the department’s International Politics Lecture Series. Titled, “The Road to Paris: U.S. Leadership in the Emerging Pledge and Review of International Climate Policy Architecture,” the presentation focused on US climate policies and the commitments that the country is expected to bring to the table at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) that will be held in Paris in December 2015.

Aldy’s research focuses on climate change policy, energy policy, and mortality risk evaluation. He is a Visiting Fellow at Resources for the Future, a nonprofit organization that conducts independent research on environmental, energy, natural resource and environmental health issues, as well as a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization. In 2009-2010, Aldy served as the Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Environment at the White House, reporting through both the White House National Economic Council and the Office of Energy and Climate Change.

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