Excerpts of this blog were featured on Damien Ma’s blog on The Atlantic.

While expectations for the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Cancun have been intentionally kept low, China is doing the opposite – raising the bar for developing countries that have no obligation under current international regimes such as the Kyoto Protocol to address climate change, while urging developed countries to step up to the plate.

Last week, the Chinese government officially recognized – for the first time – its position as the top global emitter of greenhouse gases.  Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission and China’s top climate official, Xie Zhenhua told reporters at a press briefing, “Our emissions volume now stands at number one in the world.”  To place…

This is the second day of the climate change negotiations in Cancun. The role of Mexico in these negotiations is very interesting. Yesterday during the plenary many parties highlighted the efforts that Mexico, as president of the COP, has conducted in bringing back transparency to the process. Patricia Espinosa, Foreign Affairs Minister and president of the COP16, stated that they would conduct several consultations with the parties and expected a positive outcome of this year’s conference.

On a different note, today I ran into a former colleague from Mexico’s National Forest Commission. She was telling me about the booths in the Cancunmesse and other events in the Village. When she asked me if I had already been there, I think that she could see in my face that I…

It’s the first day of the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention, and I can’t imagine a more different conference from what I experienced in Copenhagen last year. The sun is brighter, my room isn’t in a youth hostel with six other grad students, and the negotiations are being held in a resort called the “Moon Palace” rather than the stark and utilitarian Bella Centre. But aside from the obvious differences between venues, what strikes me most is the difference in attitude and expectations.

Most of the international community went into Copenhagen last year expecting a landmark legally binding sequel to the Kyoto Protocol. Hundreds of heads of state flew in from all over the world, and countless protesters clamored outside, eager to have…

Students from the Instituto Tepeyac Xcaret show off their amazingly detailed work. On the left, their dark representation of what the Earth will become if no action is taken on climate change, and to the right, their representation of the eco-friendly world in which they hope to live.
I’m here in Cancun working with the international sustainable art organization ARTPORT_making waves. Yesterday my team and I went to Climate Change Village, the official cultural site for COP16, to screen some of the first selections in the film program we’ve put together. The Village, a collection of carnival tents erected along a roadside 13km north of the Moon Palace, is intended to “promote dialogue related to environmental issues amongst non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society.”

But several journalists with whom I’ve talked think the decentralization of the COP16 venue is going to take some fizzle out of what is usually a lively cultural and artistic scene. In fact, at the physical heart of the COP so far seem to be the autoroutes between the…

I am a member of the Yale Delegation at COP 16, but I am also a delegate with the Federated States of Micronesia. The conference officially opened this morning with a welcome session.

Prior to the welcome session I spoke with a woman from another delegation on the shuttle ride over to Moon Palace, one of the main meeting locations. She seemed apprehensive about what, if any outcome would be achieved during the Conference. I am hopeful, that there will be a positive outcome from the conference, but I also wasn’t in Copenhagen at COP 15. People are still talking about it, and it’s disheartening to see that many of them still aren’t happy about it. It seems that the trust amongst parties has taken a beating, which is…

REDD+ Partnership and International Demand Side Drivers

REDD+ Partnership Work Plan Meeting in Cancun

As part of the Yale delegation, I am working for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) to promote the adoption of policies and language in the negotiating text that addresses international demand side drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.  The EIA is working in tandem with the Environmental Climate Alliance (ECA) a conglomeration of international NGOs that have similar goals with regards to REDD and international forest policy.  Prior to arriving in Cancun, I analyzed the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s (FCPF) REDD readiness plans (R-PPs) and UN REDD National Programme documents (NPDs) of several REDD countries to determine how they have incorporated drivers of forest degradation and deforestation into their…

A summer at URI: Like a Clockwork [Osage] Orange

“Nature is a language and every new fact one learns is a new word . . . I wish to learn this language, not that I may know a new grammar, but that I may read the great book which is written in that tongue.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, November 5, 1833

While many of my fellow colleagues moved away from New Haven immediately after graduation, I needed a bit of time to unwind and contemplate the last two remarkably grueling years volleying bombardment by new ideas, amazing people, creative projects to take on, and additional problems to solve, while peppered with the latest news on the rapidity and enormity of environmental and social