2019 UN Climate Action Summit
The theme of this year’s UN 2019 Climate Summit was “Climate Action Summit 2019: a race we can Win, A Race We Must Win.” The main goal of the summit was to “further climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent to prevent the mean global temperature from rising by more than 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above pre-industrial levels.” An additional goal was set to reach net zero emissions by 2050. In comparison to previous years, this year’s Climate Summit asked countries to submit evidence that they have made progress and layout a detailed plan on what they expect to accomplish in the coming years.
As we all know, global temperatures are rising and scientists have predicted that if they rise over 1.5 °C by the end of the century, humanity and the environment would face dire circumstances. In order to stay at or below this level, countries around the world have to work together to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Unfortunately, the current trends have revealed that global temperatures are on the rise. For example, winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990. In addition to the temperature changes in the Arctic, sea levels have been rising, erratic weather patterns have been occurring, and air pollution is increasing.
Countries participating in the summit made announcements on their plans for the future. For instance, France stated that they would not enter into any trade deals with countries who do not support the Paris Agreement. Additionally, “12 countries made financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund, the official financial mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change”. India, a country that has dealt with pollution and other environmental issues stated that they would “increase renewable energy capacity to 175 gw by 2022 and committed to further increasing to 450GW, and announced that 80 countries have joined the International Solar Alliance”.
The International Solar Alliance was created by France and India’s leaders to “fight rapid climate change” and “meet the escalating energy demand”. The Alliance is “aiming to mobilize more than a trillion dollars in order to triple the amount of solar energy installed around the world - and all before 2030”.
Another influential nation, China, declared that they would “pursue a path of high quality growth and low-carbon development, and announced a partnership that could potentially unlock up to 12 billion tons of global emissions reductions and removals annually through nature-based solutions”. Furthermore, the European Union announced that “at least 25% of the next EU budget will be devoted to climate related activities”. The Russian Federation declared that “they will ratify the Paris agreement, bringing the total number of countries that have joined the Agreement to 187”. Finally, Pakistan stated that they would “plant more than 10 billion trees over the next five years”. In addition to the main Climate Action Summit, the UN Secretary General also launched the first Youth Climate Summit.
Protests During the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit
While policy and procedures were being formed in the halls of the UN Headquarters by government representatives across the world, citizens of over 150 countries came out in protest to tell the assembled politicians that not enough was being done to combat manmade climate change. During the Global week for Future Event, which overlapped with the Summit, an estimated 6 to 7.5 million protestors took to the streets in over 4,500 locations worldwide. This was the third and largest such strike in The School Strike for Climate movement which encourages students to “take time off from class to participate in demonstrations to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change”. From Afghanistan to the low lying island nation of Vanuatu and in the streets outside the UN Headquarters, concerned students and citizens made their voices heard. The most vocal by far was 16 year old Great Thunberg, founder of the School Strike movement, who spoke in the General Assembly Hall scolding the gathered leaders and declaring that “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I'm one of the lucky ones, people are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing”. Her emotional speech made headlines around the world but did little to stir the assembled nations into greater action.
While many nations pledged to meet tougher self-imposed emissions standards the protestors believe that the largest contributors to climate change are not pulling their weight and that even more political action will be needed on an even tighter schedule if the world hopes to stay below the 2 degree celsius limit. Still if there is a victory to be taken from the summit it is this, the Climate Strike movement set the record for the largest mass protest for action on global warming in history. Awareness is spreading and so is concern for the environment. As the ranks of the movement continue to grow the countries dragging their feet may have no choice but to listen, the only hope is that by then it won’t be too late.
Volunteer of the Month
Drew Kosicki has been with OCH for over 2 years, following us from the City of Newport Beach. He is incredibly devoted to the environment and the conservation and preservation of species and habitats therein. Over the last two years, Drew has given us his time, energy, knowledge, and passion for local ecosystems and species. He is on our monitoring team taking several segments per month and has even filled in for others at a moment’s notice. He has been an integral part of our education team where he has taught students about their local habitats, the food web, ocean systems, and more. Drew has shared various environmental job opportunities that OCH has been able to share with our young career-seeking volunteers in hopes of working in the environmental field. Drew doesn’t often miss our field trips or workshops and his presence hasn’t gone unnoticed. His tireless commitment to our organization and the environment overall is simply amazing and he sets quite an example as an exemplary volunteer. His commitment extends beyond OCH to other conservation organizations, most notably Newport Bay Conservancy, where he does habitat tours around the bay on kayaks, outriggers, and on foot. You may also find him in a tux serving cocktails at some of their larger fundraising events. Drew is a model volunteer and one to take notes on. Thank you Drew for all you do for OCH and the earth!
Volunteer of the Year
Crystal Ryan & Trevor Stocking
Crystal joined OCH in 2017 and got settled into our monitoring program well enough to start training others, including her long-tern partner, Trevor. Trevor arrived in Orange County and right into OC Habitats in 2018. Since then, these two have worked as a pair for our crew and what a pair they are! Crystal is currently studying Environmental Science and Policy at UCI and Trevor has his BS degree in Biology from Hawaii Pacific University. Once Trevor was fully trained the two of them took on our south county habitat segments and have proven themselves quick learners. They were quickly asked to help with training of new volunteer monitors, which they excelled at. In addition to monitoring, they have worked in almost every other aspect of OCH including restoration work, education planning, and grant writing. They worked hard on our grants in 2018-2019 and helped in securing our LUSH grant (see LUSH article to the left). They have both worked their way into higher roles with OCH since they began due to their intelligence, hard work, passion for our mission and goals, and their desire to grow their knowledge and experience in the environmental field. In addition to providing so much to OCH, they are both in the midst of pursuing their careers in the environmental field. Trevor has worked with Bolsa Chica Conservancy, Department of Agriculture, and is currently with California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Crystal has been working her way through school working as a chef in a variety of hip restaurants in South County. With all of this and their own commitment to each other and their families, these two are hard working and driven young professionals. OCH appreciates these two to the utmost and feels they have been force on our team that is hard to match.
Volunteer of the Month
December’s Volunteer of the Month is Ross Griswold. Ross has been such a vital part of our organization and has supported our work since the very beginning. Ross has become an expert in Western Snowy Plovers in the last decade and works with both government agencies like USFWS and CDFW as well as many nonprofits like Bolsa Chica Conservancy, San Diego Zoo, Sea and Sage Audubon, and, of course, OCH. He is well known among the birding communities through the coastal part of Orange County and his past and present work is valued by all. Ross is a graduate of USC and worked in business for the majority of his career and found SNPL’s in his retirement. Something about the Snowy Plovers touched him and he has been forging ahead in hopes that these little guys will thrive again here in Orange County. Ross volunteers countless hours to the conservation of this species through weekly monitoring, quarterly surveys (more detailed) and serving on various conservation boards over the years. Ross is a proud dad of three boys who are now starting their own careers and philanthropic journeys, which he gets to help and guide them in with all his experience. Ross has offered to help train our monitors and when they get a chance to survey with him, there is a lot to learn as he covers a lot of ground during his survey days (Wednesdays). Not only is Ross quite the scientist, he is also a fabulous photographer. He has shared many of his photos with our organization for educational and outreach purposes and we are so thankful for his generosity. In addition to monitoring and photography, he has helped OCH with their training programs each year. In 2019, he helped to build our monitoring orientation program that we hosted in February 2019 and led our field trip. We hope that he will be willing to do it again in 2020! With all Ross has to offer our community, OCH feels incredibly lucky to have him on our team.
Volunteer of the Month
Tom Gee has been with OCH since its inception and coming from his volunteering work with the City of Newport Beach’s Natural Resource Department. He started off by volunteering with the City of Newport Beach and helping with the Snowy Plovers and invasive plants on Balboa Peninsula. His background is in technology and he has worked many years in the field before retiring. He is great with numbers and all the current programs and apps that keep popping up. Tom is a busy grandparent, helping his children with the care and upkeep of his grandchildren that range from high school age to kindergarten. He doesn’t miss a game, meet, or event when it comes to his grandkids. We should all be so lucky to have such a devoted grandpa! His commitment to his family is a testament to the man that he is and a person who has their priorities in the right place. Tom is a resident of Newport Beach, specifically in Balboa Peninsula area, and over the years has taught himself how to identify the native and non-native plant species that live on the Coastal Dunes there. He is mostly responsible for the close to pristine state that some of the coastal dunes are in near the Balboa Pier. He has been especially helpful in our Coastal Dune Habitat programming in teaching our naturalists about these plants. Although his passion is more plant related, he monitors our Coastal Dune habitats weekly and has become a source of reliable and consistent data for our surveys. Since OCH began, Tom has taken more and more responsibilities in our organization by his continued monitoring, the Tern Monitoring Program with State Parks, attending almost all the OCH classes and events that have been offered, helping with our habitat tours and field trips, and helping to train new OCH monitors. He has even filled in for meetings where important and controversial information is being shared. The success of this organization is due to volunteers like Tom and we are so happy to have him on our team!
Sunday, Jan 5th - Harding Nature Trail Restoration
Sunday, Feb 2nd - Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy Restoration, 8:30-11am (Join)
Sunday, Feb. 9th - OCH Annual Bird Tour, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, 8:30am-12pm. (Join)
Sunday, Mar 1st - Harding Nature Trail Restoration, Irvine Regional Park, 8-11am (Join)
Saturday, March 7th - OCH Beach Clean-Up, Newport Beach, CA (Join)
Sunday, April 5th - Harding Nature Trail Restoration, Irvine Regional Park, 8-11am (Join)
Wednesday, April 22nd - Earth Day 2020
Harding Nature Trail Restoration
by Abby Foster
In October, OCH started on our new project restoring the Harding Nature Trail at Irvine Regional Park. We have partnered with OC parks to restore this area which has been affected by invasive species and the wildfires in 2017. In our first month of restoration, twelve volunteers came together and cleared out non-native plant debris from the trail, with the help and supervision of our Park Ranger, Kelly Stump-Moriarty. We made notable progress and have greatly improved the accessibility and presentation of this trail in just one visit! We look forward to continue working monthly on this quarter-mile trail and restoring the vegetation back to its native status. As we move into the cooler winter months, we will continue to clear out non-natives and begin planting native Coastal Sage Scrub plants and tending to them.
Opportunities are available for anyone to volunteer with this project, and we encourage groups such as sports teams, clubs, schools, and businesses/corporations to join us.
Featured Partners: Friend of the Quarter
Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy
In 1985, Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy (HBWC) was founded with the intent of acquiring, restoring, and protecting coastal wetlands in Huntington Beach, CA. Wetland habitats are incredibly important habitats to many species of plant and animal and serve an important role in ecosystem health by providing a natural filter for toxins that flow down the watershed to the ocean. These ecosystems were not always valued and have been depleted severely since the 1800's for development, leaving only 180 acres of the original 300 original acres that were once in Huntington Beach. Since it's inception, HBWC has acquired Talbert, Brookhurst, and Magnolia marshes along Coast Highway from the Santa Ana River to Beach Blvd. Currently, HBWC, along with CalTrans, is working toward acquiring Newland Marsh as well. At the HBWC headquarters, adjacent to Magnolia Marsh, HBWC has an interpretive center and nursery where they host tours for groups of all ages. In addition, the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center is located on the HBWC property and serves injured, sick, and orphaned indigenous wildlife in Orange County. HBWC hosts many restoration events including weed pulling, trash clean-ups, native plantings, and more. They work with many other local groups and agencies to continue their good works with the hope that these marshes will be here for future generations. For more information about HBWC go to their website or visit the Interpretive Center at 21900 Pacific Coast Highway (corner of Newland and PCH), Huntington Beach, CA 92646.