“Do I smell a hippy?”

First Flight. Done. One down and two more to go.

The woman behind me was eating an onion sandwich that was filling the entire cabin with the strong odor of, well… onions. As passengers continued to board, one of them walked past my aisle and said loudly “do I smell a hippy?”. The woman behind me, I’ve come to conclude, was trying to out me before we even left the ground. It worked.

I guess my gear outs me, too.

I guess my gear outs me, too.

Three and a half hours, 2 homemade habanero jack quesadillas, and a 50 page Climate Action Network (CAN) summary about the work to be done at COP this year later, I find myself sitting at my next gate in the D.C. airport. Everywhere around me are people speaking French, German, Dutch, and what might even be Polish. Thus starts the international leg of my journey and being the youngest person by far at my gate I and reminded that I’m pretty lucky to be going to COP (and also how many challenges and privileges being a “youth” in a primarily “adult” space presents).

As I was reading the CAN report, aptly titled “Warsaw: On the Road to Paris” I was struck with how many abbreviations and moving pieces within the UNFCCC that I still don’t know about. What I can say with confidence is that there are so many amazing ideas and projects that if implemented could really do some amazing things! On the other hand. Reading more about how the U.S. really does nothing but stall progress and not follow up with their promises makes me ashamed and frustrated. This is the year to get our negotiators to finally hear us. There is no reason that we should not be able to come to a binding treaty by 2015!

CAN sums it up nicely: “The scope, structure and design of the 2015 agreement should be consistent with a 1.5oC global carbon budget with high likelihood of success, including targets and actions within an equitable framework that provides the financial, technology and capacity building support to countries with low capacity. It should be serious about ensuring sufficient support for dealing with the unavoidable impacts of climate change. It should be built on, developing and improving the rules already agreed under the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention including transparency through common and accurate accounting and effective compliance processes, respecting the principles of equity. The form of the 2015 agreement should be a fair, ambitious and legally binding protocol… There won’t be an ambitious 2015 deal without equity and there won’t be equity without an ambitious 2015 deal.”

Off to Brussels and onwards to Warsaw!

Parka. Packing. Poland.

I’ve starting packing my bags. Wool socks? Got ’em. Parka? Just arrived in the mail. It’s going to be a difficult change going from 80 degree weather in Texas to the 40 degree highs in Warsaw, but I’m definitely ready to be back at the COP and to travel to Europe for the first time!

My first year of COP I was really there just to learn and try to understand this ridiculous, wonky, frustrating, and rewarding conference. This year, my focus is continuing my work with the Women and Gender Caucus: a collective of women from around the world combining our fields of knowledge to make sure that all bodies of the UNFCCC take gender issues into consideration.

Our gender balance last year was a huge success and I can't wait to do more! Who knows: Maybe this year we can push for gender Equality!

I will be leaving soon to attend Power Shift Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)/the Conference of Youth(COY9) where I will be leading a workshop with a fellow delegate about integrating Anti-Oppression principles into the work that we, as youth, are doing at an international level to respond to climate change.

I’m especially excited for the release of a new monitoring system called the Environment and Gender Index(EGI), which compiles data from 75 different countries and reports the work they are doing to promote more gender-sensitive practices.

It’s hard to believe that it is already November and that 7 months worth of preparation and a year’s worth of waiting are finally coming to a close. It’s almost COP time!

A reminder from last year’s COP in Doha:

It's time.

It’s time.

Keepin’ it rollin’: HERE I COME, POLAND!!

EIS Flaws= Bared Claws

Today marked the release of the the new Environmental Impact Statement from the State Department regarding the KXL pipeline. All I can say is: wow. Seriously, how can this EIS say the negative impacts of the pipeline and still give a neutral “recommendation”?

Of course: “The new review acknowledges the increased climate impacts of Canadian tar sands, but it  remains woefully inadequate in its consideration of the effects the proposed pipeline would have on Americans’ climate, water, air and health.”

I live my life with the saying (maybe motto) “Intent vs. Impact”. It seems to me that the State Department needs to think more about the impact of their inaction rather than their intent to please all parties. Whose lives are being negatively impacted from cradle to grave in this project? For some reason, I don’t think it’s anyone who wrote or approved the supplemental EIS.

Good Reads: Mike Brune tells it like it is. The New York Times explains the basics of the 2,000 page document in a little under a page (and links you to the EIS!).

#ForwardOnClimate Rally

#ForwardOnClimate Rally

With the release of the last (extremely flawed) EIS came the comment period- so here we are again. “Publication of the document next week starts a 45-day public comment period and then a protracted review before a final impact statement is issued, meaning a presidential decision on the project is still months away.”

2011 State Department Keystone EIS Hearing in Austin.

2011 State Department Keystone EIS Hearing in Austin.

Who’s going to join me again in Austin to tell the State Department that we don’t approve of the EIS nor the pipeline?

In solidarity,


Blockade and Hater-ade.

I live in Texas ( I know- Yeehaw, ride horses, gun-carrying, bible-thumpin’, Rick Perry, Texas). More specifically, I live outside of the Capitol city of Austin- the political and liberal hub of this otherwise very conservative state.

Recently, I attended the #ForwardOnClimate rally in Washington D.C. and marched on the Capitol with 50,000+ activists from around North America. We demanded “CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW” and sang our cries of “Show me what Democracy looks like,” replying, “This is what Democracy looks like”. Shortly after the rally, a picture of myself from during the march was featured on 350.org’s Flikr account. Not long after the picture was posted, it went viral in the activist community.

Reverse side says "Texans say NO to KXL"

I had gone to D.C. as a representative of Texas- hoping to spread the word about the land grab occurring in the state that my family has been living on and cultivating for the past century. My sign was my attempt to draw national media attention to voices that are being consistently ignored by the mainstream media (a.k.a. The Tar Sands Blockade).

I was shocked (and not too surprised, I might add) that my sign had sparked conversation about the inadequacy of my activism. “It’s not enough” were the resounding cries from commenters. “If I lived anyhere near Texas TransCanada would be spending money fixing their machines,” one commenter stated. While I am someone who prefers to stick to non-violent means of protest and political dialogues as sources of change, I recognize the validity in other tactics. Don’t get me wrong- if I weren’t a broke college-student who depended upon loans and scholarships contingent upon my clean record, I’d be direct-actioning all over the place. (For now I will just wait until I retire. I will be the grandma who chains herself to bulldozers by day and bakes cookies by night).

Personally, I believe in what Mahatma Gandhi says “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.” With the largest and dirtiest energy project knocking on people’s door steps, I understand that sometimes talking is not enough and that action is needed. I personally agree with non-violence, but I will not invalidate others based upon what they believe. What I found to be saddening about the aforementioned online dialogue was not so much the negativity aimed at my own activism, but a lack of understanding that when everyone completes their own tactic it strengthens our movements and unifies our voice.

In a perfect world, I envision activists validating each other’s different tactics and using our alliances with one another to apply the strongest force possible when pressuring our policy-makers, decision-makers, and the perspectives of members within our community.

If we want “Climate Justice Now” we can’t put down our coalition members, we have to act and think in solidarity.

“Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.”- Mahatma Gandhi

In Solidarity,


From One Oil State to Another.

Here I sit, right where I began in Texas. My journey from one oil state to another has shaped the way I see the world.

Right now, I can say that I’m experiencing some slight reverse culture shock. Why are women showing so much skin when it’s this cold outside? I don’t hear car horns blaring at all hours of the day or the prayer songs from a dozen mosques playing 7 times a day (it’s eerily quiet at night when I try to sleep). There are Christmas decorations everywhere and pictures of the Emir are nowhere to be seen (I don’t think most people in Texas know that an Emir is, even.)

After not having driven my car for over a month, it’s odd to have to freedom to drive myself around once again. There are traffic lights, stop signs, and street names. Doha’s traffic circles, nameless streets, and camel-mounted police seem so long ago, and yet it was only a few days ago.

Jet lag has taken it’s toll again, but this time I am in my own bed surrounded by the comfort of my loved ones. Overall, COP made me think quite a bit about my privilege. I may not be able to enter negotiations with a pink badge, but by meeting with my negotiators I am able to influence not only the happenings within my own country- but within others as well. As a U.S. citizen, my voice directly impacts the climate because of my country’s wrong-doings. I think that I, as well as everyone else in my country, should take away from this COP that we are working on a strict timeline- Climate change will not spare island nations while we discuss the proper adverb in one of many treaties. We need to ACT and we need to ACT NOW.

What could the future look like if everyone got involved? We need to REALIZE that the time for action is not when we start to really feel the impacts of climate change (I would argue that we’ve already felt it enough).

That We Need Climate Action Now!

That We Need Climate Action Now!

Until next time: Aloha, Doha.

The Show Must Go On: KP Comes to a Close

The Closing of the first commitment of the Kyoto Protocol has been marked today, December 6, 2012 in Doha, Qatar. While not all parties are happy with the text, the main thought process seemed to be that any kinks could be ironed out within the second commitment period and outlined at intercessionals.

The Philippines said it best:

“The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.
I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want.
I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”

For now, Aloha from Doha.

COP19: Poland= Coaland?

It was announced on Wednesday, November 28, that the host country for COP19 is going to be Poland. Just as this year’s COP(18) is being held in an oil state, Qatar, we have to wonder how a country whose industry is dependent upon dirty fossil fuels (a.k.a. COAL) are being granted the opportunity to host the meeting of parties from around the world “working” together to mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Most of the work I’ve done at home has been centered around moving the United States Beyond Coal, so the fact that climate negotiations will be held essentially on the battle ground makes me rather unsettled, just as the influence of oil has been seen in this session of negotiations (what are you doing on the escalator in front of me, man from BP?)

Thoughts, world?

Where Are All the Women?

Not only is it a rare occurrence to see women walking down the streets of Doha, but within the negotiations, as well. Out of all of the nations represented here at the COP, only approximately 36% of official delegates and negotiators are female-bodied (a slight increase from the average 17%). Numbers from this specific conference are pending, numbers cited are from COP17 and Bonn/Bangkok Intercessionals. 

November 27 was officially “Gender Day” at COP18. Many sessions throughout the day were centered around discussion about how women are disproportionately impacted by climate change, that there isn’t enough female representation within COP negotiations from each country delegation, and that the voices of women need to be more strongly heard on multiple levels of political participation.

To frame this day, let me give a quick background. I am an Environmental and Feminist Studies double major who focuses on environmental justice. Equity, however you want to define this word, is something that I see to be crucial to creating solutions to climate change. My role, as I see it, at this COP is to learn. For those of you who don’t know much about the UNFCCC, there are currently 7 subsidiary bodies this session. None of these bodies are headed by women.

At an event later in the day called “Gender and Climate Innovation: Breakthrough changes for gender equality” which featured two women whom have inspired me during my time here at COP, Mary Robinson (the first female President of Ireland) and Christiana Figueres (the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC) and the extraordinary Minister Alcinda Abreau of Mozambique.

Gender Innovation Panel.

Gender and Climate Innovation Panel.

At this panel, the ladies (who decided amongst themselves that they were all to be called “Mama”) were asked why they were passionate about COP and international climate change. Mama Christiana said that what keeps her motivated to fight climate change is her two daughters. She said,  “I know that whatever we do or whatever we don’t do will affect their quality of life, their children, their children, and 7 generations after that. What keeps me up at night is the eyes of 7 generations of the future looking back at me and asking what did you do? We are the first generation who knows what we are doing… this gives us a moral responsibility to do something… we cannot continue to do this to the future generation. They did not contribute to this. We need to do this particularly for children in developing countries and those that are most vulnerable to climate change.” This is one of the many reasons why I adore Christiana Figueres.

Later in the panel, a question was asked, “Do you think that COP18 will be known as ‘the gender COP’?” to which the answer was, “I certainly hope not, because then that would mean that there was only one!”

There are many reasons why, however, this COP is making waves and opening new opportunities for women to have more equal representation within this body of the United Nations. This session, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) approved a draft proposal detailing the implementation of gender balance principles that were proposed at COP7 in Marrakech.  It seems like a long time coming and is definitely a victory for women and climate justice! The work is obviously not over here. Many women can be given a spot on delegations, but will they be the ones to speak? Will they be able to make decisions? Moving forward, this is a great foundation for increasing women’s participation in the negotiation process and I am proud to say that I was a part of making this difference by participating in the women’s caucus here at COP and making suggestions to the draft proposal. This isn’t all that was done, however, but more on that later.

Teaser: Gender Balance Action Post to Come!

Teaser: Gender Balance Action Post to Come!

For now, Aloha from Doha.

Byline? Skyline.

Every evening, I have a long hour and a half to two hour long bus ride back from the QNCC (conference center) and my hotel. In the event that I am not sitting next to anyone, or anyone who would like to talk, this is my go to song:

“I got, got to get

Get my head back on

I got, got to get myself together

When this hurt is gone

I got, got to get myself together
I got, got to get

Can’t tell what’s going wrong

I wish there’s something could be done
I’m not that clever.”

There’s something remarkably soothing about zoning out, thinking of nothing, and just taking into the twinkling city lights of Doha. No thoughts of negotiations. No conversation about world problems. Nothing but my fellow Swede and I gettin’ ourselves together.

Doha nights.

Doha nights.

For now, Aloha from Doha.

Drafted December 5th, 2012