COP21, Me, and You

COP21, Me, and You

What you need to know about the United Nations climate change conference.

The world will be in Paris this December for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Its hope? To set a universal and legally-binding limit on climate change due to human-created greenhouse gas emissions. Universal because there are 195 members to the Conference of the Parties (COP), and legally-binding to compel nations by law to follow through with the agreement. There has never been such a global-scale motion to combat climate change.

Here is some context:

COP — the only broadly legitimate, international entity centered on climate change — is the product of an agreement made in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The convention was not legally binding and merely gave parties a framework by which to establish protocols to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. COP has met every year since 1992. This year's meeting will be its 21st, which is why it is called COP21.

The conference is also called CMP11 because it is the 11th Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997. Under the protocol, climate change mitigation commitments were legally binding but varied from nation to nation. Annex I countries, including the United States and European Union, committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Other nations such as China and India made no such commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. However, even for Annex I nations, the protocol could not have real effect without many nations ratifying it, and the U.S. never did pass it through Congress. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008 to 2012. The second period, which began in 2013, expires in 2020.

In order for the world to move forward on the issue of climate change, all nations must contribute to the movement. After a disappointing conference in Copenhagen in 2009, which was rushed and scattered (although it did produce an agreement for parties to curb global warming by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels), the nations met in Durban in 2011. They came up with the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action and a corresponding ad hoc committee (ADP), which would work for a universal, legally-binding agreement by 2015. The conference in Paris will be the culmination of that work.

Here are some facts about COP21:

COP21 will take place between November 30 and December 11, 2015, in the French capital. 40,000 people are expected to attend, including national delegates, observers, and civil society members. There is a lot of pressure: the imminent expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2020, the need for major polluters such as the U.S. and China to lead the world to an agreement about climate change, and the environmental catastrophes that will result from rising global temperatures of more than 2 degrees. A lot needs to change, and not the climate.

There is some hope that it will. As part of a bottom-up approach, each member nation has agreed to produce an intended nationally-determined contribution (INDC) with its goals for emissions reductions and climate change mitigation. In a landmark joint statement, the U.S. said it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, while China said its emissions would peak by 2030. Around 150 countries have submitted their INDCs so far, and a summary of the contributions will be written by Nov. 1. The idea behind this approach is to push each nation to come up with its own ambitious and feasible solutions, which will be evaluated when all nations come together.

Another major part of COP21 is an economic agreement that will mobilize $100 billion for climate change mitigation every year. This sum will come from developed nations as well as private and public enterprises starting from 2020, and there is already a Green Climate Fund with an initial capital of $10.2 billion. Through this economic plan, COP21 will support not only climate change solutions but also sustainable investment and development.

The most important part about COP21, however, at least for me (and hopefully for the world), is the broad involvement of all parties who have a stake in the issue of climate change. I do not mean just delegates of member nations; instead, I mean members of civil society such as representatives of NGOs, businesses, subnational governments, cultural organizations, and academic institutions. Yale will have its own delegation; I will be part of it.

Whether or not the conference will meet the high expectations the world has for it — the universal legally-binding agreement we hope will curb global warming — the leadup to COP21 has already brought the issue of climate change onto a global stage. Many nations have already submitted an INDC, and many delegations are already prepared to meet. But the real impetus for a new agreement on climate change comes from members of civil society like us. The more attention we pay to COP21's unfolding — the more we read the news, respond to it, and incorporate sustainability into our actions — the more pressure we will add to the conference's proceedings.

Cover Image Credit: COP21

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Christian Boys Vs. Godly Men

It is time to stop settling for the lesser of the two.

Ladies, there is a huge difference between a Christian boy and a Godly man; therefore, it is time to stop settling for the lesser of the two.

So many times I hear girls saying:

“Well, he’s a Christian.”

“He goes to church with me.”

“He listens to Christian music.”

“He went to church camp.”

“He has a favorite bible verse.”

SEE ALSO: What An Attractive Man Looks Like

Well, all of those things are just peachy and there is nothing wrong with doing those things. I mean, they’re all good things to do. But how is his personal relationship with God? How is his prayer life? Does he talk about his relationship with God, with you? Is he truly a follower of the one true God in all aspects of his life? These are some of the characteristics you should be looking for that makes a Godly man.

Ladies, a man will love you great when he loves God greater.

A Godly man will pursue an honest relationship with you. He will be clear of his intentions. A Godly man will worship, pray and passionately praise God with you. Whereas, a Christian boy might open the door for you, a Godly man will open his bible and explore God’s word with you so that you both may grow spiritually, together. While a Christian boy may put on an outward show, a Godly man will live out the love of Jesus daily.

So ladies, are you catching on to this ongoing trend? A Godly man does more because you deserve more.

A Godly man will be a leader. Trust me, I know that in today’s society Godly men are few and far between while Christian boys come in plenty. But you deserve a man who is after God’s heart not just a boy who goes to church. And I know that this Christian boy may seem great and have some really stellar qualities at the time but money and looks fade, whereas, an ongoing love for our savior will not.

The greatest thing a man can do for a woman is to lead her closer to God than himself. (Yes, yes, yes).

SEE ALSO: As Christians, Life Isn't Supposed To Be Hard

So I beg of you, do not settle. Do not settle just because you’re tired of being single, it’s convenient or because you want the relationship your friend has. Single does not equal available and a relationship status does not define you. God uses your season of singleness to prepare you for what is to come. And if you’re dating a Christian boy, he needs to step it up or you need to move on. Wait for a Godly man who is ready to lead you. God’s timing is always better, always. No matter the circumstance. So, do not rush God. (I mean, He is, after all, pretty good at His job). Therefore, turn your full focus to Him and He will direct your path.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Cover Image Credit: Christina Sharp

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Don't Let Your Politics Identify You

As identity politics draws lines in the sand is there a chance that soon we will have more than two main political parties?


The term identity politics refers to a common group, such as racial, religious, social, cultural, economic, and especially political alliances. This term has been used to identify the injustices of our society and in most cases characterizing their political beliefs. It gained power during the women's movement, the civil rights movement, the LGBTQ movement, and most recently the nationalist movement. As the Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election grow, the term identity politics has been a factor in our elections since the 1970s and will cloud our upcoming election even more than in 2016.

Identity politics has become the mainstream of our political discussion, it has caused each voter to decide which group to be part of. It is no longer Democrat, Republican, or Independent, now there is an added description to the party affiliation. The class or social distinction varies, whether it is White American, African American, Hispanic, Asian, male, female, gay, lesbian, wealthy, middle class, poor, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, as the list grows.

In the book, "Identity" by Frances Fukyama, he explains, "In the United States, identity politics has fractured the left into a series of identity groups that are home to its most energetic political activists. It has in many respects lost touch with the one identity group that used to be its largest constituency, the white working class. This has spawned the rise of a populist right that feels its own identity to be under threat, abetted by a president whose personal vanity is tied to the degree of anger and polarization he can stroke." The once silent groups now have a voice in our society and they have become louder and stronger and caused the white working class to feel they are no longer recognized as the primary group.

For example, the citizens in middle American, commonly known as the rust belt, became more and more disenfranchised from the government in Washington DC. These middle to upper class, blue-collar workers have struggled for the past several decades to keep their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, and keep their loved ones from becoming victims of the ever-growing opioid crisis.

They were firmly rooted and stubborn. Not willing to go back to school or change their career paths. The blue-collar man was left behind and becoming angrier as the banks foreclosed and their towns emptied of all other enterprises. They did not want to hear that it was time to move on, leave the confines of your family heritage or adapt to the ever-changing society and economic environment.

Along comes a "millionaire" candidate that puts on a circus atmosphere with his catchy phrases and promises that have no clear plan. He pointed his finger at minorities and blamed them for all White American's problems. He gave them an excuse. He convinced them he was the only one who was going to give them their piece of the American pie.

They took him at his word because he wasn't from the nation's capital, a politician that told them to move on. His macho image and never apologize swagger convinced most of the men and women in middle America that he was going to "drain the swamp" in Washington DC as the new sheriff akin to "Wyatt Earp." He would bring back their jobs and prosperity would once again be in their view. His ability to use fear and hate as a platform took the nationalist party into the mainstream of politics.

As the nationalist party takes on a life of its own, it becomes clear that a candidate that focuses entirely on the cultural left issues will be challenged to prove their worth. After the 2016 election, the candidates accepted the fact that they overreached when it came to their focus on identity politics and renouncing a more universal appeal.

In an article from The Nation, Walter Benn Michaels writes, "It's not racism that creates the difference between classes; it's capitalism. And it's not anti-racism that can combat the difference; it's socialism. We're frequently told that black poverty is worse than white poverty—more isolating, more concentrated—and maybe that's true. But why, politically, should it matter? You don't build the left by figuring out which victim has been most victimized; you build it by organizing all the victims. When it comes to the value of universal health care, for example, we don't need to worry for a second about whether the black descendants of slaves are worse off than the white descendants of coal miners. The goal is not to make sure that black people are no sicker than white people; it's to make everybody healthy. That's why they call it universal."

Everyone wants to be defined, but there is an overreach when it comes to the labels. As a teenager having a label put on us was degrading and at times emotional, yet as adults, it seems we can't help but put a label on ourselves and others especially when it comes to our politics. As identity politics draws lines in the sand is there a chance that soon we will have more than two main political parties? Will this be a change that is needed to become a more cohesive America?

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