350NYC and New York Society for Ethical Culture hosted “Countdown to Paris”



In the six months since the People’s Climate March in NYC, UN negotiators have been working on proposals for the global climate treaty conference that will take place in Paris in December 2015. 350NYC and the NY Society for Ethical Culture held an evening of discussion among climate leaders, including attendees at the preliminary talks in Lima and Geneva. They gave us updates on the progress that has been made towards an effective global climate treaty, and the challenges that remain.

Moderated by Clara Vondrich from Fenton Communications, Director for Climate & Energy she spoke to a diverse panel, including:

Sean Sweeney – Director, International Program on Labor, Climate & Environment at the Murphy Institute; Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. One of the key points that he made noted was how once renewable energy was privatized and not operated publicly, citizens are more hesitant to allow development.  He discussed how this has played out in Denmark and if we want to see progress in renewables, citizens need to see these developments as their own and they need to be engaged more fully as stakeholders.

Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, Associate Research Director at Corporate Accountability International, discussed how they are using the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, article 5.3 to establish safe guards in climate policymaking from the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry and further stem corporate abuse. Lawrence-Samuel urged all of us to sign Corporate Accountability International’s petition to keep Big Energy out of the climate talks and to spread the word.

Click here to sign! Petition

Jeffrey Salim Waheed, Deputy Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations, flatly state that no goal is too ambitious and urged us to demand a 1.5 degree limit. He spoke of how people of island nations do not have a contingency plan to relocate, because leaving their homes is in essence would be a death to their culture and therefore a plan to relocate is not on the table.

Reinhard Krapp, Minister, Head of the Economic Department, Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, spoke on the shift in thinking when questioned about how economic austerity and low carbon initiatives seem to be anti-thetical. He noted that there has been a decoupling from the concept that low carbon equates to low profit.

Helen Rosenthal, (Democrat) represents District 6 in the NYC City Council, spoke on local issues and Bills that she has aspired to getting put into effect, such as engaging citizens with low/no idling laws, providing payment to citizens that turn in violators and also, the introduction of her “Meatless Monday” Bill. She also spoke about efforts in getting young people to participate in voting and getting a next-generation of environmentally aware constituents. When moderator Vondrich asked the panel to each give a few final words of thought, Rosenthal replied with a tinge of humor, “Help me”. Lets do just that, here is a link to her proposed bills that will have an important impact for the environment.

Helen Rosenthal Legislation 

The event was cosponsored by: 350NJ, Bronx Climate Justice North, Climate Justice@Union Theological Seminary, Corporate Accountability International, Green Education and Legal Fund (GELF), Human Impacts Institute, Interfaith Moral Action on Committee (IMAC), Judson Memorial Church, Peace and Planet, Sane Energy Project, Sierra Club NYC Group, The Beloved Earth Community of Riverside Church, and WESPAC.