As we prepare to depart Paris after our nine days at COP21 filled with mutual optimism from the momentum of discussions here, we reflect back on our final special evening at the home of US Ambassador to France and Monaco Jane D. Hartley, where we attended a private dinner sponsored in conjunction by Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation.
Constructed in the 18th century, throughout the Summit this spectacular building served as a beautiful backdrop to photography exhibits and video projections centered on the impact on climate change, before it accommodated a remarkable sustainable dinner prepared by former White House Executive Chef Sam Kass.
Accompanied by my fellow staff member William Bridge, supporter Farleigh Hungerford and longtime Global Green friend and environmental leader Lyn Lear, we had the unique opportunity to discuss the events of the week in Paris with a variety of environmental luminaries who either spoke, advocated, or otherwise used their political and social influence to further the process of an agreement we are all hoping will be reached before the Summit concludes on the 11th.
It was both a pleasure and a privilege to be able to spend time with fellow climate defenders including actor and activist Adrian Grenier, as well as philanthropist and NEXTGen Climate founder Tom Steyer and his wife Kat. Equally rewarding were the conversations I had with my table mates who included Senator and Mrs. Timothy Wirth from Colorado, both true political pioneers in the climate change movement and early leaders of the formation of the UN Foundation; as well as its founder and philanthropic supporter Ted Turner, joined by his daughter Laura Seydel Turner and her son. Also sitting at our table were California Governor Jerry Brown and Helen Burt, Senior Vice President, External Affairs and Public Policy of Pacific Gas & Electric and PG&E Foundation Chairperson.
To join in conversations about the event with such luminaries was a powerful experience and an opportunity to share with all of them the work of Global Green, especially as it relates to climate change and resilience. Environmental leaders including the woman labeled The Godmother of Oceans Sylvia Earle reminded all of us that the impact of climate change is not just something we see on land with the lungs of the earth diminishing from deforestation, but a thing most of us don't see to the same degree under the oceans, as carbon accumulation and acidification have destroyed over half the world’s coral reefs. Governor Brown spoke to all of us and reiterated how California is leading not only the US, but also the world by its policies and actions to combat climate change and a shining example of what can be done, even when our national governments become mired in politics and climate change denial.
While most of us concluded the evening with a level of enthusiasm regarding the momentum and public awareness achieved at the Climate Summit, we also left with the hope that our national governments, particularly those of the US, China, Russia, and India will do more than merely publicly state an obligatory intention to reduce carbon emissions, but actually reach an official, binding agreement limiting carbon output through either or both a process of cap and trade or a greater shift to renewable energies.
Time will tell of the ultimate outcome from COP21, but in the meantime, the sense of urgency over the resulting consequences of climate change was the topic of the evening. Global Green was proud to be in such good company of influencers and decision makers and we look forward to our cooperative work with these individuals, their organizations and everyone with whom we have had the pleasure of meeting during our nine days at the Summit. With the support of our constituents and those of all of the NGOs, governments, and businesses in attendance, this is a problem that can be solved, but the time for our collective action is now. We simply don't have the luxury of waiting any longer to convince climate deniers of the reality of the situation, without major consequences occurring throughout the world.
Global Green USA was well-represented at the Summit and made itself an integral part in many different formal and informal discussions, something all of us associated with this organization can be proud of, as we help lead the fight against climate change and take progressive steps to create adaptation and resilience to those communities already impacted by such change.