November 6, 2015
Source: by Melanie Aleman, Intern, Emory Office of Sustainability Initiatives

Climate Action at Emory – “Peachtree to Paris”
In December, delegates from more than 190 countries will meet at the UN Climate Conference in Paris to discuss a new global platform for climate action that aims to keep global temperature rise below 2°C. At the national level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized the Clean Power Plan, which tasks state governments with creating plans to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants by 32% by 2030. Emory is an active participant in these conversations at the global and local levels.

Last month, the Climate@Emory initiative, which brings together more than 50 faculty and staff from 20 departments, and the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Public Policy hosted “Choosing our Energy Future: Town Hall Discussion of Georgia's Options for Implementing the Clean Power Plan.” This event was the first Georgia-specific stakeholder discussion on the Clean Power Plan since the final rule was released in August. It brought together representatives from Georgia's utilities companies, citizen groups, nonprofits, and universities, all of whom will be integral in shaping Georgia’s State Plan.

“Conversations like this one are incredibly important,” said Daniel Rochberg, Instructor at Emory and Chief Strategy Officer of the Climate@Emory initiative. “It’s important that we not only increase our collective understanding of the EPA rule but also continue to strengthen the network of individuals and organizations working on these issues. We’re going to be grappling with these challenges for a long time, and we’re at our best as a community when we’re learning from each other and working together to find creative and effective solutions.”

At the global level, Emory will be sending its first official delegation ever to the UN climate talks. To recruit and prepare Emory’s student delegates, a Coalition of the Liberal Arts (CoLA) class was proposed and instituted for Fall 2015. Spearheaded by Goizueta Business School professor Wes Longhofer, Professor Eri Saikawa from the Environmental Sciences Department, and Senior Lecturer Sheila Tefft from Journalism, the CoLA class entitled “Understanding Climate Change Negotiations” hosted its own mock UN Climate Negotiation Conference on October 31, simulated by Emory students. At the UN Climate Conference in Paris, students will have the opportunity make their own schedules and select which activities to attend, pursuing their specialized interests. They will share what they learned with the broader Emory community by organizing Climate Week in spring 2016.

“The class is an extraordinary opportunity for students to approach a complex issue from a variety of disciplines, which is essential for thinking about solutions to the myriad problems associated with our warming climate,” says Professor Longhofer. “We will then get to see first-hand how policymakers, NGOs, and businesses tackle these challenges in Paris.

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