The Climate Reality Project Creates 1,280 New Climate Leaders

By Elizabeth Bonnell and Karla Utting

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Dream in Green’s staff, interns and Board members had the opportunity to attend the 30th Climate Reality Leadership Corps training that took place in Downtown Miami from September 28th to 30th. The 3-day event was organized by the Climate Reality Project and led by Al Gore, former US Vice-President and Chairman of the Climate Reality Project, link for 1,280 new Climate Reality Leaders from 87 countries. The training provided participants the tools they need to build public awareness on the challenges associated with climate change at a global and regional level and to drive action for solutions. Other key topics explored were the political and social conversation around renewable energy deployment and the key leadership role the Latino community has on climate change action.

 

During the first day, Climate Reality Leaders were greeted by Climate Reality Project staff and Mr. Gore. “In order to address climate change we must start a revolution that will put an end to fossil fuels,” said Mario Molina, Director of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. Mr. Gore made us aware that Miami is at ground-zero for climate change impacts such as extreme weather events and sea level rise. Florida Senator Bill Nelson then discussed the politics of climate change and reminded us of Planet Earth’s fragility: “Earth is a magnificent creation suspended in the middle of nothing,” said Senator Nelson. “We do not see ethical, racial, and political divisions from above, we are all in it together to save our extraordinary planet Earth.”

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The event was organized in such a way that groups of twenty Climate Reality Leaders had a mentor responsible for leading break-out sessions. During the first session, participants shared their personal stories and motivation for attending the training. The first day of training ended with a powerful presentation by Mr. Gore on the ‘Climate Crisis and Its Solutions.’

 

The second day of training invited recognized scientists such as Dr. Eric Rignot from the University of California Irvine and Senior Consultant at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and Dr. Tiffany Troxler from FIU’s Sea Level Solutions Center to talk about climate change data, sea level rise projections for Florida and climate resiliency strategies. “The probability that the speed at which ice will melt may be many times faster than what has been presented,” informed Dr. Rignot. “For this century sea level is being predicted to rise by 30-40 cm by 2050 and 2 meters by 2100.” Moderated by Mr. Gore, the afternoon panel session was particularly interesting as participants heard from journalists Chris Hayes of MSNBC and Vanessa Hauc of Telemundo about how the climate crisis is covered by the media and the growing public interest in the topic.

 

The final day of training began with an inspiring panel session about solar energy in South Florida which highlighted the obstacles keeping renewable energy from progressing; these included no effective integrated resource planning, blocked policies, no renewable energy financing and monopolies on a single grid. Climate Reality Leaders become informed of the Floridians for Solar Choice campaign and signed a petition to help create the change needed for energy choice. Later on in the day, Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the famous marine explorer and conservation pioneer Jacques Cousteau, gave an eye-opening presentation about the importance of our oceans and coral reefs, and highlighted the vulnerability of these eco-systems and impacts on food supplies. Mr. Gore closed the event with a powerful and transformational speech encouraging Climate Reality leaders to tap into the passion that originally brought us to respond to the climate crisis.

 

The training was successful in informing us on the impacts of climate change on society and brought us up-to-date on the advances of the renewable energy industry. It inspired us to take action in our communities by making us aware that we are all leaders and together we can solve the challenges posed by changing climate conditions. We walked into the conference on Monday seeking answers and tools to change the world, and on Wednesday we walked out as Climate Leaders prepared to make a difference.

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