Friday, December 5, 2008

Q&A: Oklahoman at Climate Talks in Poland

[photo from poland by eric pollard. see: for more photos]

By John Sutter

The world is talking about climate change at a meeting in Poland, and a representative from Oklahoma is in on the discussions.

Eric Pollard, of Norman, is representing a youth advocacy group called SustainUS, at the climate talks in Ponzan, Poland, where countries from around the world are trying to hammer out an international agreement to follow the Kyoto Protocol.

The talks are seen as a primer to the United Nations' Climate Conference, which will be held in Copenhagen next year.

Pollard is blogging about the current discussions, which have involved some heated debate between industrialized countries and those in the developing world, since the richer countries aren't ready to commit to specific reductions of heat-trapping gases by 2020. A Wall Street Journal blog says the talks resemble "a Mexican standoff more than anything else."

Pollard took time out of the action to answer some of my questions by e-mail. Here are excerpts:

Concrete Buffalo: How are you involved in the climate talks?

I am in Poznan, Poland for the talks representing SustainUS, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of young people advancing sustainable development and youth empowerment in the United States. My responsibilities here at the conference with SustainUS include following plenary discussion on technology transfer (how developed countries share renewable energy technology with developing countries) and I sit on the International Youth Actions Team which is responsible for planning events, rallies, demonstrations and other forms of outreach.

CB: What is the atmosphere like?

... To an extent the talks are a bit subdued because most major negotiations regarding commitments to emissions reductions will be made next year in Copenhagen and it is becoming clear that the official US delegation will not move away from the Bush Administrations' international climate policies from the last 8 years and Obama nor any of his transition team is either here or working with . However, the International Youth Delegation, including SustainUS and other US delegations, believe that needed action on the climate is urgent and that major progress at COP 14 must be made in order to come to an agreement next year.

CB: What role does Oklahoma have at a conference like this?

Oklahoma could play a huge role in the domestic advancement of action on climate change through renewable energy policy and infrastructure development in the US ... In the past, Senator James Inhofe has sent aides to UN Climate talks. Typically, his staff has spent most of their time at the conferences consulting with various buisness lobbyists, specifically those from oil and natural gas and coal interests. This just shows that Sen. Inhofe is commited to stopping any major progress both domestically and internationally not only on climate change mitigation but the development of the various renewable energy industries that will create millions of green jobs, save our economy, and our planet.

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