LAHS Alum Heads for UN Climate Talks in Warsaw

Marielle Remillard is a LAHS graduate working on her PhD at Harvard. Courtesy photo

SustainUS News:

Marielle Remillard who graduated from Los Alamos High School in 2005, spends most of her time working on her PhD in environmental engineering at Harvard. Her studies keep her busy but not too busy for activism when it comes to a topic she knows a lot about, climate change.  

Next week Remillard will travel to Warsaw, Poland as part of a delegation of nearly two-dozen exceptional young leaders from across the US to take part in this year’s round of UN negotiations on climate change, which will lay the groundwork for a proposed 2015 international treaty. She says that she is grateful for the opportunity to take part in the negotiations and hopes to see the United States rise to the challenge of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The urgency for action could not be greater. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s foremost scientific authority on climate science, issued their latest report, which reaffirmed the scientific consensus that industrial activities are disrupting the climate system in ways that pose serious threats to the life prospects of young people and future generations, particularly in the world’s poorest countries. However, the report also identifies the possibility of significantly limiting these risks by de-carbonizing the global economy as quickly as possible.

Remillard argues that although this has been a politically difficult task, there are examples around the world that prove it is economically and technologically possible. The European Union’s carbon market has been operating since 2005, Australia’s carbon tax since 2011, China is experimenting with pricing carbon in eight provinces and aiming to expand the program nationwide. Here in the US we have 10 states ahead of the federal government in terms of pricing carbon pollution.

She says that despite crippling gridlock in Washington there are major steps that the President can and should take that don’t require congressional approval.

“President Obama has said that he wants the US to be a leader in tackling climate change but right now we’re falling behind the rest of the world. The President can, and must, send a strong signal to the international community by enacting tough EPA regulations on existing power plants and giving his negotiators marching orders to bring home an ambitious international treaty worthy of debate in 2015. Anything less would be an abdication of leadership.”

About the UN conference: The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was created in 1992 to solve the problem of rising greenhouse gas emissions and its effects on development. Negotiators from 194 countries will meet in Warsaw, Poland, to prepare an updated international climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Negotiations begin Nov. 11 and run through Nov. 22.

About SustainUS: SustainUS is a national volunteer-based youth organization that empowers young people to create a more sustainable world through involvement in international summits and grassroots activities. Through its Agents of Change program, U.S. youth have the opportunity to participate in several UN conferences, including the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Commission on Sustainable Development, The Commission on the Status of Women, and the Commission on Social Development.  SustainUS delegates have played significant roles lobbying negotiators, building bridges between international civil society groups, and serving as a moral voice for intergenerational justice.  Learn more or apply for one of our delegations at