By Kyle Meng
Project 55 Fellow, Environmental Defense, NY
February 1, 200
There could not be a more apt description of the issue that I work on than the title of this publication. Climate change is fundamentally a global issue; finding a solution to a problem of this magnitude and pervasiveness will undoubtedly require the shared efforts of not only the world’s governments, but also that of its industries, businesses, and individuals.
That characterization also describes my work thus far at my Project 55 fellowship with Environmental Defense, an environmental non-profit with a long history of climate change involvement. My responsibilities at Environmental Defense fall predominantly in our China program where I provide research support for our projects in that country. As an outgrowth of my climate change interests in China, I have also joined Environmental Defense’s international team, which works toward creating strong international agreements that will avoid the onset of dangerous climate change.
It was as a member of the international team that I attended last year’s United Nations climate negotiations held in Nairobi, Kenya. My week spent at this conference was both edifying and overwhelming. Every year, several thousand diplomats, researchers, and advocates from over 190 nations convene to advance the goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, under which rests the Kyoto Protocol. The meeting, held at a different location every year, serves as a decision-making body to implement the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol and to negotiate future agreements. As the first of these meetings to be held in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been predicted to suffer some of the worst effects of climate change, the motto at Nairobi was “harambee,” a Swahili word which means “pulling together.”
This notion of a shared effort is evident as well in my everyday work. One of the most rewarding aspects of being at Environmental Defense is the diversity of knowledge and background of its staff members. In my projects, I interact constantly with scientists, economists, engineers, and lawyers—talented and experienced individuals that bring with them different perspectives on how best to combat climate change. In my brief time thus far at Environmental Defense, I have come to believe that a problem as enormous and complicated as global climate change can only be adequately addressed through such a shared effort and commitment by experts from different disciplines. I am looking forward to more such enriching opportunities during the remainder of my Project 55 fellowship.