to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

January 2019

January 2019

COP24 and the Talonoa Dialogue – Allison Chatrchyan and Students

Allison is the director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and Senior Research Associate in the Departments of Development Sociology and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences. She and several Cornell students attended COP24 in Poland last month. They shared their experiences at the climate conference and updated us on the Talonoa Dialogue.

  • COP meetings take place every year as part of the global negotiating process to address climate change
  • Cornell is an Official UN Observer party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • Acts as an observer at these meetings and holds side events each year
  • Paris Agreement is a legally binding treaty with complex mix of mandatory and voluntary provisions
  • 184 out of 197 parties to the convention have ratified the Paris Agreement
  • Very small U.S. delegation at COP 24 but U.S. still a participant in the Paris Agreement
  • Cornell’s participation at the COP meetings allows it to raise visibility of its research projects
  • Engaged Cornell provided funding for three-credit course this year on Climate Change Science and Policy
  • Group projects involved Armenia and Tonga as well as various NGOs – TCCPI provided local connection
  • 23 Cornell faculty, staff, and students attended COP 24, which took place December 2-14
  • Week 1: 10 delegates
    • Cornell exhibit
    • Press conferences
    • Side events
    • We Are Still In panel discussion on higher ed
    • Perspectives on agricultural policy and sustainability
  • Week 2: 13 delegates
    • Cornell exhibit
    • Press conferences and meetings with delegates
    • We Are Still In Pavilion: Scaling Ambition through Sustainable Agriculture – Allison
    • GACSA Climate Smart Agriculture Workshop: Johannes Lehmann
  • Brought Talonoa Dialogue report from Tompkins County to COP 24 – 30 attendants at press conference to present report
  • Very few other local communities submitted report – mostly national and international stakeholders
  • COP 24 was Allison’s fourth experience at COP – felt for first time she got handle on it
  • Maeve Anderson: Course really prepared us for COP 24 – wrote speech for GACSA
  • Julie Kapuvari: Discouraging to see lack of U.S. participation at federal level, but We Are Still In had a high profile
  • S. side event focused on promoting fossil fuels – Al Gore speech more inspiring
  • Zeyu Hu: China took leading role at COP 24 in absence of U.S. leadership – source of hope for future
  • Allison participated as member of Armenia delegation
  • Ideas for collaboration with TCCPI:
    • COP 25: November 11-22, 2019 in Chile
    • Engaged Cornell Curriculum Grant Proposal: Local to Global
    • Hope to teach course again – students involved in TCCPI in Fall 2019
    • Public forum after COPs with TCCPI: Are We Still In?


TCCPI Priorities & Goals for 2019 – All

We broke out into five small groups and shared thoughts about what participants would like to see TCCPI focus on in 2019 as far as priorities and goals are concerned.


Group #1

  • How do we promote environmental democracy?
  • Need to better understand Green New Deal and ways we can support it
  • Increase our understanding of Project Drawdown
  • What about nuclear power and subsidies supporting the industry?
  • How do we advocate for a reduction of defense spending so more funding can be devoted to climate action?
  • Need to pay more attention to sustainable agriculture and carbon storage in soil


Group #2

  • How do we encourage student climate action at the high school level?
  • How do the state goals for climate and greenhouse gas emissions impact our community?
  • How do we achieve the necessary climate goals even as we address the issue of affordable housing?
  • How has climate and clean energy work resonated with communities outside of Tompkins County?
  • More meetings like this one involving small group discussions would be valuable


Group #3

  • Support the conversion of the Green Building Policy Report into a new code for the City and Town of Ithaca – invite Nick Goldsmith to provide updates on the progress of this effort
  • Make sure local governments are aware of the new SEQR requirements for greenhouse gas emissions that went into effect on January 1
  • Provide input into the County’s development of a new energy strategy
  • Continue to grow the membership of the Ithaca 2030 District
  • Promote utility-scale solar and storage as a replacement for repowering Cayuga Power Plant
  • Develop ways to increase student involvement in TCCPI


Group #4

  • It would be great to have more collaboration with students and the colleges, both with us hearing about the work students are doing and learning from it, and having students work with us on projects. We could also consider working with middle and high school students, though that requires more supervision.
  • We value the presentations at monthly meetings. They are a way to let us know what’s going on in our community and with other organizations, and we would not get this information were it not for the monthly meetings. We would like to see presentations from a broad range of people continue, and maybe broaden it even more.
  • It would be good to engage more with the City of Ithaca, in many different ways, to help increase elected officials’ and city staff’s awareness and knowledge about climate change, energy, and sustainability. We thought we could engage with other local communities as well, but that it would be best to start with the City. One suggestion is to more actively invite officials to our meetings, and if many of them can come to one of our regular meetings, plan a special agenda to help welcome them.
  • Focus on existing buildings and how TCCPI can help move efforts forward on energy efficiency, etc.
  • An idea for a project: each TCCPI member would agree to reduce their carbon footprint, and we would be accountable to each other. We could come up with metrics to track our progress, and report out to the group. We would encourage and motivate each other. Having done this exercise might give us more credibility when talking with others, and we would certainly learn from the experience and hopefully have compelling stories to share that could motivate others.
  • We could run an energy fitness campaign, maybe as a contest, to encourage local communities.


Group #5

  • Need to promote more inclusivity and diversity – how do we expand the scope of participation?
  • Get more businesses and municipalities on board with climate commitments
  • Develop a local climate change database, building on the Talonoa Dialogue report
  • Need to do more thinking about adaptation, not just mitigation

309 North Aurora Street | Ithaca, NY 14850 | info@tccpi.org

Meeting Highlights: 2019