Spring 2016 Newsletter
Switzer Fellows leading 
global movement 
to halt climate change
T
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Switzer Foundation, and the profound vision of supporting environmental leaders that inspired Robert and Patricia Switzer to create this foundation is in full force for the most pressing and unifying issue of our time: global climate change.

The emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases fueled by our industrialized global economy and based on the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, has driven our planetary life-support system to the brink of its capacity to sustain our ecosystems and human communities. The December gathering of world leaders, non-governmental organizations and community organizations from every corner of the globe and all walks of life at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris, included Switzer Fellows working, and leading, in a range of sectors.

The subject of climate change now permeates nearly every issue, every environmental debate and organization with which our Fellows are associated. Shereen D'Souza (2011) representing the US Department of State, Heather Coleman (2003) representing the international organization OXFAM, Kelly Levin (2007) of World Resources Institute, Sarah Lupberger (2014) working with the government of Peru, and Joe Aldy (2003) of Harvard University attended or contributed to the talks and outcomes in Paris, as did many others. Switzer Fellow and Board Chair Jennifer Sokolove supported a delegation of organizations through her work at the Compton Foundation to bring public engagement through the arts and humanities to the Paris talks and public venues.

The Network of nearly 600 Switzer Fellows who work across the US and in 16 countries are increasingly tying their work, their careers, and activism in their communities to climate change. They are working on greenhouse gas and emissions reductions, energy efficiency, resilience, ecosystem management and conservation, all in the face of a warming climate. This 30th anniversary edition of our spring newsletter focuses on the actions and thought leadership of our Fellows who engaged with the COP 21 meetings, and whose efforts will not stop there. Fellows and others whose climate work we are supporting as grantees are profiled here. We invite you to share our pride in their leadership and vision for a sustainable and clean energy future.
Jennifer Sokolove: Introduction to 
COP 21 and the agreement

On November 29, 2015, more than one million people in over 175 countries took to the streets in the largest climate protest in history. The next day, 150 heads of state joined the United Nations' 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to work toward global accord on climate change. For the next two weeks, negotiators from all over the world met at the Le Bourget conference center outside Paris. Thirteen days later, on Saturday night, December 12, almost 200 countries accepted a new UN climate agreement. What is now being called the 'Paris Agreement' commits 196 countries to work together to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, ideally keeping at or below 1.5░C. It urges a halt to the rise of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

Depending on who you ask, the agreement that came out of the conference was either a watershed deal that heralded in the end of the age of fossil fuels, or a weak, corporate-driven compromise that consigns marginalized populations, and all of us, to climate chaos. It's hard at this point to be sure which is closer to the truth. It is both an incredible step forward in the recognition of the climate crisis and a beginning of global efforts to address it, and not remotely enough to stop significant warming in the near term future, which will have real, heartbreaking effects on millions of people. Writing in the Guardian the next day, columnist George Monbiot said, "By comparison to what it could have been, it's a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it's a disaster." We at the Switzer Foundation, and many of our Fellows and partners, are holding both of those truths.

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Fellow Stories
Heather Coleman: What success looks like in Paris

2003 Fellow Heather Coleman is the Climate Change Policy Manager with the relief and development organization Oxfam America. With Oxfam since 2007, she now leads efforts to push for climate action globally and to address the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable communities. She has written and been quoted widely on the Paris agreement, including an analysis before the negotiations of what success would look like in Paris and more recently about the formal signing of the Paris agreement on Earth Day this year.

Read Heather's thoughts on the agreement and find more articles by her and about her work.
Shereen d'Souza: Climate adaptation after Paris

2011 Fellow Shereen d'Souza is a foreign affairs officer with the U.S. Department of State working on climate change adaptation and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations. On March 24, she was on a panel of experts from the United States and Jamaican negotiating teams who gathered at the Wilson Center to discuss the importance of adaptation in the Paris Agreement and what it means for both diplomatic and development efforts moving forward. "Most Parties felt strongly that adaptation needed to be part of the agreement," she said, but what form adaptation would take in the agreement was not immediately clear. 

For more details see article and webcast recap,
Kelly Levin: Understanding the Paris agreement's long-term goal to limit global warming

2007 Fellow Kelly Levin is a senior associate with World Resources Institute's major emerging economies objective. She leads WRI's Measurement and Performance Tracking Project, which builds capacity in developing countries to create and enhance systems that track emissions reductions associated with low-carbon development goals. She closely follows the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and analyzes related emissions reduction targets and actions. Leading up to the Paris negotiations, she published a blog post, Why are INDC Studies Reaching Different Temperature Estimates?, that was included in the New York Times's coverage of the pact.

Read Kelly's thoughts on the agreement and find more articles by her and about her work.

Joe Aldy: The need for transparency and review mechanisms

2003 Fellow Joe Aldy is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, a Visiting Fellow at Resources for the Future, a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His research focuses on climate change policy, energy policy, and mortality risk valuation. In 2009-2010, Aldy served as the Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Environment, reporting through both the National Economic Council and the Office of Energy and Climate Change at the White House. Leading up to the Paris talks, Joe published an article, Need Transparency and Review Mechanisms, as part of a debate series on how the United States could lead in Paris to achieve a climate agreement we could live with. He also wrote for The New Yorker in November on why Republicans can't support a carbon tax.
David Ciplet: A crisis of solidarity at the climate talks in Paris

2012 Fellow David Ciplet is a sociologist focused on issues of globalization, inequality, and environmental justice. From the negotiating halls of the United Nations to community center meeting rooms, his research uses participatory qualitative methods to explore processes of social change in climate change politics. He is Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and the author of Power in a Warming World: The New Global Politics of Climate Change and the Remaking of Environmental Inequality.

Leading up to the Paris talks he published a number of op-eds for major publications on the funding gap and crisis of solidarity between developed and developing nations.

Dave Kramer: The side events of COP 21

2004 Fellow Dave Kramer of EcoLogic Development Fund participated in side events and conferences that were taking place alongside the official Paris COP negotiations. He attended the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), COP 21's largest officially sanctioned side event and spent his final day at two inspiring events: a working group meeting for the Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature Initiative (LPFN) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Equator Prize Awards Ceremony. His blog post for EcoLogic highlights some of the key outcomes of the Paris deal and a curated list of what EcoLogic saw as the best articles, blog posts, and op-eds that were published in the weeks since the agreement was reached.

Angel Hsu: The wider world of non-state and sub-national climate action

2012 Fellow Angel Hsu is an Assistant Professor at Yale-NUS College and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is also Director of the Yale Data-Driven Environmental Solutions Group and Principal Investigator of the Environmental Performance Index. Her research investigates how data-driven and information-based governance can work to increase transparency and decision-making for multiple actors and institutions. She authored an analysis of the impact on climate change by non-state actors (cities, states, regions, companies and investors) leading up to the Paris talks and held a press conference with the UNFCCC/COP President on the findings.

Angel is also frequently quoted on the emissions data from China and India, including a widely-quoted Reuters article in November, The unbearable lightness of Chinese emissions data.
Tracey Osborne: Keeping fossil fuels in the ground

2004 Fellow Tracey Osborne, Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona and director of the Public Political Ecology Lab, partnered with Amazon Watch under a Switzer Leadership Grant to inform a collaborative campaign to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The Climate Alliance Mapping Project is creating two sets of multimedia maps, one of the Amazon region and one of the Americas, which will overlay existing and proposed fossil fuel reserves with locations of biodiversity hotspots and indigenous territories.  The maps will be interactive, containing stories from indigenous people about their experience with fossil fuel extraction.  The maps and stories will be used in an ongoing campaign by Amazon Watch, the Sierra Club, and others to create public and political will for keeping fossil fuels in the ground.  The project was profiled in Environmental News Network.

Read more about Switzer's support of Tracey's project
Kelly Sims Gallagher: US-China Climate Policy

1999 Fellow Kelly Sims Gallagher, Associate Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, focuses her research broadly on energy and climate policy in both the United States and China. Kelly also served in the Obama Administration as a senior policy advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She was quoted on PRI in December on what a Republican president - one who opposes action on climate change - could mean for any progress reached in Paris. "It does jeopardize the international momentum that we have. If the United States fails to meet its targets, it will lose the moral authority to encourage and cajole other countries to honor their commitments as well," she said. Kelly says international law is soft and it's difficult to enforce commitments - the best path forward is to lead is by example. She adds that if the Republicans don't like the president's approach to curbing greenhouse gases, it would be helpful for them to devise some of their own.
Annmarie Eldering: Measuring carbon dioxide by satellite

1989 Fellow Annmarie Eldering is the Deputy Project Scientist for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) and the Project Scientist for OCO-3. Launched in July 2014, the OCO-2 mission measures how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere near the planet's surface and has received a lot of press attention. Scientists like Annmarie are already using the resulting dataset to characterize where carbon is being emitted and absorbed and over what timescales. Annmarie says, "Armed now with this pile of data, we can start to investigate more fully this question of sources and sinks and how different parts of the world contribute to these processes."

Annmarie told the Switzer Foundation, "I'm excited to see that COP 21 was successful in getting all the major emitters to sign up to the accord. As far as next steps, in Europe, we see that carbon costs are routinely integrated in decision making and planning. Unfortunately, here is the United States we face serious political barriers to real change of our energy system. I hope that the additional scientific insights we gain from measurements we are making with OCO-2 add to our sense of urgency to change!" 
Doreen Stabinsky: Funding for climate change

1991 Fellow Doreen Stabinsky is a Professor at College of the Atlantic, where she actively researches and writes about the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security, and on the emerging issue of loss and damage from slow onset impacts of climate change. She also serves as advisor to a number of governments and international NGOs on issues related to agriculture and loss and damage in ongoing negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  

Recent articles quoting Doreen:
Paris Agreement Leaves Climate Funding in Limbo
Recent Books
Our Fellows have published extensively on climate change and related issues. Below is a selection of recent titles:

Upcoming Events
2016 New England Fall Fellows' Retreat
September 16-18, 2016

The 2016 New England Fall Retreat will be held at Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA.
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2016 California Fall Fellows' Retreat
September 30 - October 2, 2016
The 2016 California fall retreat will be held at NatureBridge at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
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2017 Spring Fellows' Retreat and Policy Communications Training
March 11-13, 2017
Our 2017 spring retreat and Policy Communications training will be held at the Marriott at Metro Center in Washington DC. .
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Foundation News
The Switzer Foundation: 30 years of environmental leadership!

In the last few months, we have hosted a whirlwind of events celebrating the Foundation's 30th anniversary. 

Switzer joins Divest-Invest Movement

The Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation is proud to be a part of Divest-Invest Philanthropy, winner of the 2016 Nelson Mandela - Graša Machel Innovation Award for Brave Philanthropy.

Fiscal Year 2015 annual report available online

In fiscal year 2015 the Switzer Foundation awarded six Leadership Grants for a total of $170,000 and one Network Innovation Grant for $11,500. Read more about the year's highlights in our annual report.

2016 Fellows announced!

In 2016, twenty new Fellows joined the Switzer Fellowship Network of nearly 600 Fellows located across the country and around the world. We will share more about our new Fellows and the 2017 Fellowship application in our Fall newsletter.

A vibrant community of environmental leaders