The second annual Quad-City Climate Change Rally joins rallies across the state, country and world at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 29, at the Yavapai County Courthouse on the Gurley Street side of the Square. Organizers were amazed this past year when 125 participants took part at a chilly 8 a.m. Sunday morning event, and they are hopeful many more will show up this Sunday afternoon.
The rally's goal is in part educational and also in support of the Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 in Paris, part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), that begins Nov. 30 and runs for 12 days.
More than 42 million citizens representing 194 countries worldwide are joining in this global movement - the largest climate march in history - to urge greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Sierra Club Yavapai Group and other sponsors of the event invite local citizens to Sunday's rally to learn what they can do here in the Quad Cities, and to urge stronger governmental action from national leaders.
Speakers will make brief comments on climate change science, the Paris Conference, morality of action, and what one can do. In addition, there will be music, discussion and an open mic.
Grandmother for Peace
Frances Thomas, 68, participated this past year as a member of Grandmothers for Peace, although she has no grandchildren - it's not a prerequisite, she said. She brought posters and people wrote their wish for the earth's future.
"There will be something for everybody to enjoy, and something for everybody to take away, to be a part of this global movement that at this point is pretty urgent," she said. "I believe in doing whatever I can do to preserve the earth and its species and the whole cycle of life of all creatures."
Thomas, a former member of Women in Black, used to stand at the corner of Gurley and Cortez from 4 to 5 p.m. on Fridays, as she does now with Grandmothers for Peace.
Prescott to Paris talk
Natalie Lucas, executive director of Care About Climate, mostly speaks to college student groups, and said she found the audience at Prescott College's Prescott to Paris presentation this past month had a little different focus than younger audiences.
"They had different perspectives on how to address the issue of climate change," Lucas said. "This group was more concerned with the enforceability of the agreement that we were creating and how we can keep the U.S. accountable. I told them that it ultimately came down to their efforts, and it is up to us to make sure that we all act on climate together."
When asked if the recent events in Paris will keep her and others home, Lucas said, "None of my travel plans have been affected by the attacks. The response of many has been that we feel like it is more important to go on as planned to show the strength of Paris and the importance of COP. It is, of course, an uneasy time, but only through our strength together can we overcome the darkness of a few."
Gary Beverly, chair of the Sierra Club -Yavapai Group, said the rally is about maintaining a positive attitude about climate change and to encourage citizens to act. Even so, he said he finds it "particularly alarming that political conservatives and deniers are attempting to block efforts to mitigate a serious future threat to civilization as we know it."
COP 21's goals
The outline for the Paris Convention includes pledging to control global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 degrees Fahrenheit); mitigation, adaption, loss and damages; means of implementation; and determining long-term goals. With no action, Beverly states the world would see a gain of 6-8 degrees Celsius.
"So we are making progress, but we need to do more. We need to do more NOW, or it will become much more difficult and unpleasant later," he said.
One of the reasons the United Nations began its conventions on climate change was because the people and places most affected by climate change are not the ones creating them. The United States has caused 27 percent of the world's climate pollution, followed by the European Union at 25 percent, China at 11 percent, Russia at 8 percent, japan at 4 percent, and the rest of the world totaling 25 percent, according to Friends of the Earth information.
Distress in Maldives
The country of Maldives, an archipelago with 358 inhabited islands located southwest of India, for example, has had to adapt to higher sea levels, higher temperatures, and higher frequencies of severe storms for its 300,000 residents. Just as they did not create this environmental threat, it is not something they can fix.
Rising sea levels means water and tides encroach on inhabited land, affecting housing, agriculture, and tourism - Maldives' main source of revenue. With warmer water, coral reefs die out and no longer support the fish population upon which the Maldives people rely.
Maldives and other affected countries are requesting that those countries most responsible for climate pollution pay for damages and relocation of residents.
History of UNFCCC
Lucas opened her talk with the history of the annual climate talks. UNFCCC met first in 1992 as the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janerio, and later developed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The annual conference seeks to negotiate a legally binding and universal agreement from all nations of the world on climate issues, Lucas, who also co-chairs the Sierra Student Coalition International Committee, said.
"The U.S. signed the Kyoto Protocol, but the Senate did not ratify it, which means we have no commitment. It's not really functional," Lucas said.
In 2014, developed countries focused on adaption measures; in Paris this year, the focus will be on mitigation.
Countries voluntarily agree to work on solutions. Lucas said more and more, countries are coming up with their own commitments; they are not being told what to do.
"Conversations are changing as the risks get higher," she said.
In addition to the Sierra Club Yavapai Group and Grandmothers for Peace, sponsors of Sunday's Rally includes Yavapai Climate Change Coalition, Veterans for Peace, Prescott Peace Action, Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist congregation, Yavapai County Democratic Party, NoKXL, League of Women Voters, Slow Food Prescott, Prescott College Sustainability Club, and Quad‐Cities Interfaith Council.
For more information on the event, call 928-308-1003.
Follow Sue Tone on Twitter @ToneNotes. Reach her at 928-445-3333 x2043 or 928-642-7867.