A Year’s End Climate Reflection

Letter from the Executive Director

windowintoparisThis year wrapped up with our successful Window into Paris program and a historic global climate agreement at the COP21 summit. You can read daily updates, media coverage, and watch webcasts on our Window into Paris homepage. For a summary of what happened at the negotiations, join us on Wednesday December 16th from 6-8 pm for Reflections from the Paris Climate Talks at the Institute on Environment in St. Paul, or via webinar.

As we near the end of 2015, we’re taking stock of the year and looking ahead to 2016.

Year-to-date, 2015 stands alone as the warmest year on record, by the sizable margin of 0.21 degrees (0.12 Celsius). In August, NOAA said 2015 was so far ahead of 2014, in terms of year-to-date warmth, that there was a 97 percent chance 2015 would surpass 2014 as the warmest year in recorded history. When I went up to my family’s cabin in northern Minnesota in early December, I was shocked to see our lake, usually frozen, completely open water. I hiked rather than skied on terrain normally covered in snow. While the signs of a warming climate are more visible, so are signs of action from various sectors of society.

Ben Fowke, Xcel Energy’s CEO, speaks nationally and internationally about the rapid transformation of the power market. He expects wind will be cheaper than natural gas, and the utility plans to add significant amounts of wind to its system – about 800 megawatts by 2020. Minnesota businesses – including General Mills, Cargill, Target and Best Buy – recently signed the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge. The citizen climate movement is growing, and I believe it has never been stronger.  And in Paris, at the UN climate summit we saw hundreds of governments calling for action, including strong leadership from the United States, which ultimately led to the success of the Paris climate agreement. The world unanimously committed to an ongoing effort of increasingly deeper emissions reductions aimed at keeping total warming “to well below 2°C [3.6°F] above preindustrial levels.” The full text of the Paris Agreement goes even further, with the parties agreeing “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.” The promise made in Paris is a powerful testament to what can be accomplished when we come together. Now we need robust and ongoing collective action to deliver on that promise.

As we look ahead, we will be celebrating 10 very successful years of climate education and action next year: Save the Date – December 1, 2016 for our 10 Year Anniversary Celebration at the Nicollet Island Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It’s been a big year and 2016 will be no different. We thank you for joining us on this journey!

Sincerely,

Nicole Rom, Executive Director

 

Education

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Our 10 Education Ambassadors and staff returned from the Window into Paris program this past weekend, as the COP21 climate talks concluded. It was truly an emotional, momentous and life-changing experience for all who participated – our staff, educators and their students. You can relive their journeys and their webcasts back to their classrooms on our Window into Paris homepage, and check out In the News for the media stories generated by their trip! In addition to news coverage from MPR, KFAI and the Star Tribune, each educator had one of their blogs featured on The Huffington Post.

Summer_Institute_logoThis month we also finalized plans for our 11th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, which will be held June 21-24, 2016 at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. Formal and non-formal educators will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities from our new climate change curriculum, Next Generation Climate, and learn how to implement climate literacy into your educational setting through the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Throughout the Summer Institute you will get to know and learn from climate scientists, climate change educators, and your peers. Join us for four days of climate change education training, planning, and reflecting. Read more and register online today!

Emerging Leaders

This December, YEA! MN held a live webinar with young people in Paris for COP21. This opportunity gave the students of YEA! MN (and others who tuned in) a look into COP21 through the eyes of youth. We chatted with two Minnesotans in Paris, Filsan Said with the School of Environmental Studies and Maria Langholz with SustainUS. Their stories and experiences highlighted the pressure and powerful presence that youth have, during the negotiations and afterwards. Watch our conversation with Filsan and Maria!

Locally, YEA! MN students are learning that there are many solutions to climate change and many needs to be considered when engaging in solutions with the community. At the moment, YEA! MN is engaged in creative brainstorming of student-led action projects for their schools and communities. There is eagerness and yearning to take strategic, impactful action. Throughout this upcoming winter and spring, YEA! MN will dive into organizing trainings and skill sharing to lead and coordinate these powerful action projects. Look for our updates on action projects next year!

In the News

Climate Minnesota provides the seeds of change for climate action

southwest journalFollowing our last Climate Minnesota convening of the year in the West Metro community of Hopkins, Communications Coordinator Katie Siegner shared highlights from the evening as well as insights from the project as a whole in a Southwest Journal article.

COP21: A one-of-a-kind chance to teach climate change in a real-world context

minnpost_thumb170As we prepared to lead a delegation of 10 Education Ambassadors to participate in the COP21 Paris climate talks, Director of Education Kristen Poppleton reflected on the importance of involving educators in this unique, historic and real-world climate change education opportunity. She shared her thoughts in a MinnPost Community Voices piece.

Education Ambassador Peter Johnson featured on MPR’s Climate Cast

climatecast_thumb170On Thursday, December 3rd, just before leaving for Paris, Pine Island science teacher Peter Johnson spoke with MPR’s Kerri Miller and Paul Huttner on the weekly Climate Cast program. He shared his excitement about the COP21 experience and his belief in the importance of teaching climate change to his students.

KFAI interviews Katie Siegner on COP21 and Climate Generation’s educator delegation

kfaiCommunications Coordinator Katie Siegner joined KFAI’s Morning Blend on Friday, December 4th to share insights about the COP21 climate talks.

Action

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Climate Generation staff use the “1.5º” hand gesture to show solidarity for the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5º Celsius in the Paris agreement.

 

As the world’s nations met in Paris for key climate talks earlier this month, we were there with our 10 Education Ambassadors communicating their stories back to their students and schools, while also bringing you daily coverage and insightful analysis of what’s happening and what it all means. We’re proud of our educator professional development offerings, including this year’s COP21 Window into Paris program and our annual Summer Institute, which celebrated 10 years this past June. We’re also proud of our high school youth leaders, who are educating their peers and facilitating action projects at their schools; and our youth organizers who are working on campaigns to divest from fossil fuel energy sources and reinvesting in clean energy solutions.

It’s the kind of programming you’ve come to expect from us and that we are committed to providing. To continue this type of programming, we need your support. We count on contributions from people who value climate change education and solutions. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy today.

Photo of the Month

President Obama’s Science Adviser, Dr. John Holdren, met with our COP21 Education Ambassadors and staff in Paris where our educators delivered the position statements from their students calling for strong U.S. climate leadership in the negotiations.
President Obama’s Science Adviser, Dr. John Holdren, met with our COP21 Education Ambassadors and staff in Paris where our educators delivered the position statements from their students calling for strong U.S. climate leadership in the negotiations.

 

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