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Why 2015 Was A Banner Year For Climate

By Sharon Chen
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Much has happened this year globally, across the US, and here at Solution Generation. Climate leaders from all sectors have a lot to be proud of, and their work in 2015 may just mark a turning point for getting serious about climate change. Here is your guide to what happened in 2015:

Globally: The biggest story in climate this year was of course the meeting of nearly 190 nations in Paris for the 21st United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate. Surpassing all expectations, a deal was reached that marks a serious first step in keeping climate change under 2-degrees Celsius. With each country pledging to cut emissions, agreeing to regularly-scheduled reporting guidelines on progress, and commiting to financially help and support developing nations, the deal goes further than any international climate agreement on record.

Countries across the world are embracing clean energy. Wind and solar power are growing exponentially, and countries like Costa Rica are leading on clean energy use. 

Nationally: Back in the US, against all odds, major climate action has finally gotten some traction. In August, President Obama released the details for a comprehensive plan that would implement strict carbon standards for power plants and industry. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) aims to address all sectors affected by fossil fuel emissions—including protecting public health, reducing energy bills for families and businesses, creating jobs, and fostering development and investment in renewable energy sources. The CPP has already had an effect, leading states to outline their action plans, and in many cases, begin to transition to sustainable energy.

Solution Generation: This year, Solution Generation and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) sponsored the Leadership in Climate Change Awareness Award, a $10,000 award for HACU-member institutions that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, and green leadership through example. Seventeen institutions of higher ed submitted applications, and Colorado State University - Pueblo won for its emphasis on cultivating student leadership to outreach to the fellow students and to the surrounding community.

We have continued to work with higher ed leaders to encourage climate conversations and lead the way on climate aciton. In the coming year, Solution Generation will continue to support higher ed as we strive for a more sustainable future.

Our parent organization, ecoAmerica, has released groundbreaking new research outlining how leaders from all sectors can successfully communicate about climate change. Effective climate communication is essential for inspiring action, combating skepticism, and expressing how combined actions lead to personal benefits.

So what’s next? With such a successful 2015, the year to come has big shoes to fill. Implementing the pledges of COP21, putting Let’s Talk Climate into practice, and encouraging climate mitigation through higher ed now represent the real work ahead. Accountability to these commitments is critical, and it is important for all to keep a diligent eye to whether progress is being made and pledges are being kept. Leaders must also continue to push ahead, creating more opportunities for their campuses, and educating and communicating with students about the shared benefits of climate action. Together, we  can