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Grad student to attend Climate Conference in Copenhagen

“Our future is on the table and our future is not negotiable,” SustainUS's climate program director Rachel Butler said.

Kyle Gracey, a masters student in the Harris School of Public Policy and the Physical Sciences Department, will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen along with 25 other SustainUS delegates. Gracey is chair of SustainUS, a nationwide youth environmental group.

Gracey, who wrote an October 27 review of Super Freakonomics for the Maroon’s Voices section criticizing the book’s approach to global warming, is concerned about the inaction of the U.S. government on climate issues.  “I think that the U.S. has a really big stake in the negotiations, and I think we have a lot to gain by getting invested in the negotiations and creating a clean energy economy,” he said.

SustainUS focuses on giving youth, students, and young professionals ages 13—26 a voice in discussions on climate change. “Our generation [was] potentially going to miss out on our future,” Gracey said.

Gracey seemed cautiously optimistic about the possibility of making progress at the summit. “The U.S. is a big roadblock in the process because everyone is waiting for clarity on whether the U.S. will have a climate law or not,” Gracey said. “But at the same time there is potential for progress.  Almost all other countries who are big emitters are starting to put commitments on the table.”

At the conference, Gracey and the other SustainUS delegates will spend their time lobbying, networking, and trying to get more information for youth about the conference and the issues at stake in the negotiations.

“It’ll be a combination of lobbying and talking to government officials, members of Congress, senators, representatives, and doing a lot of policy analysis where we actually sit in the negotiations and try to transmit the facts to a lot of the youth who will be there,” Gracey said.

Rachel Butler, SustainUS’s climate program director, expressed her confidence that Gracey would be an effective advocate for new policy. “Kyle is quite experienced with the international policy process and has been to at least one of these international negotiations in the past so that set him up as a good candidate with experience,” she said.

Butler also emphasized the importance of the involvement of young people in climate negotiations. “Our future is on the table and our future is not negotiable,” she said.

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