Student to serve as advocate for climate treaty in Copenhagen
Kyle Gracey sees climate change as a grave threat to his generation and he is doing his part to chart a better course for the future.
"As a young person, I don't want to see my country stuck with dirty, outdated energy sources for the rest of my life," said Gracey. "I don't want to live with the costs, damages, and deaths of accelerated global warming."
Gracey, a dual master's student in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies and the Physical Sciences Division, was chosen to attend the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18. He and 26 other youth leaders from the United States were selected for the honor by the SustainUS Agents of Change program, which was designed to facilitate youth involvement in international policy-making and to spur advocacy for a clean energy future.
"We will be making people aware of both the benefits of joining a climate agreement and the costs of not being involved," said Gracey, a 2010 candidate for a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy. "We will be using education as a tool to accompany that advocacy."
Gracey will head to Copenhagen several days early to help organize and train up to 3,500 youths from around the world to more effectively advocate for change. During the meeting, he and his fellow U.S. youth delegates will be talking with negotiators, reporting on policy and political developments, reaching out to the American media and the public, and striving to build an international youth movement. He also will be covering the meetings in real time for the Global Observatory website, translating the science of climate change for a domestic audience.
Gracey hopes his efforts will help convince the U.S. Senate to pass climate legislation in the next year.
"The transition to a clean energy economy is happening, but not fast enough," said Gracey, who is writing his thesis on long-term job creation in renewable electricity generation in the United States. "We're still dependent on dirty, dangerous, short-lived energy sources, and other countries are leaving us behind with their investments in renewable energy technologies and employment in clean energy jobs. Our best hope for transitioning to a clean and safe energy future is by joining the international agreement in Copenhagen."
Gracey said his generation has a lot to lose if something is not done soon.
"We will be the ones to feel the impact most. It will affect our entire future. We are building this youth movement to empower our generation to take action and to be involved in this their entire lives."
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