The Climate Project

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What is The Climate Project, and what are its goals? The Climate Project (TCP) is Al Gore’s climate change leadership program. TCP’s mission is to educate the public about the harmful effects of climate change and to work toward solutions at a grassroots level worldwide. TCP supports more than 3,600 diverse and dedicated volunteers worldwide. TCP Presenters have delivered 70,000 presentations and have reached a combined global audience of 7.3 million people.

What sort of people are part of The Climate Project?

TCP Presenters come from diverse backgrounds and include business leaders, professionals, educators, athletes, musicians, scientists, actors, religious leaders, students, retirees, and other dedicated individuals committed to solving the climate crisis.

Where were the Jakarta delegates from, and how were they selected?

Twenty-one countries were represented by 350 delegates, selected from many thousands of applicants. Countries represented included Pakistan and India to the west, China, South Korea and Japan to the north, Fiji and many Pacific island nations. Indonesia, of course, was well represented, having the majority of the delegates.

What was the format of the summit?

The summit began with a getting to know you program with the other delegates, including traditional Indonesian music, dance and food. All delegates were invited to sign a batik in wax. The piece included a powerful ‘Declaration to Secure Our Future’. The batik was then color dyed and presented to Al Gore at the conclusion of his training sessions.

We all gave ‘stories of self’ that told our own stories of how and why we have stepped up to be volunteer presenters for The Climate Project. These stories were, in themself, quite inspiring. Especially inspiring were those stories from people who lived in harmony with the natural systems. These people were not focused with the impact that a price on carbon might mean to the shiploads of coal and oil we consume, powering our modern lives. These people were already being impacted by failed crops, rising salinity in fresh water systems and loss of natural ecosystems, because there is not a value attributed to carbon pollution, the major cause of the climate crisis.

Nobel Lauriette (IPCC) Dr Henry Pollack, Professor of Geophysics at the University of Michigan, gave an overview and update of the current climate science. Dr Pollack serves as the TCP science advisor.

What is the latest climate science telling us?

The most sobering scientific evidence of the climate crisis has most of the collected climate data being confirmed at the top end of projections. This includes the likelihood that 2010 will soon be confirmed as the hottest year on record, according to NASA’s James Hanson.

Did you meet Mr Gore?

Mr Gore met the delegates at a reception cocktail party and supper and gave an inspiring speech to all participants. He was certainly treated like a rock star from the enthusiastic group of delegates. It was a fantastic sight to see the larger than life, soft featured Al Gore surrounded by a flock of petite and brightly smiling Muslim women in their head scarves, all reaching out to shake the hand of the one who has become a real hero for action on climate change.

Yes, I shook his hand and exchanged pleasantries. That’s as good as it gets for someone at my level of influence, I’d say.

Does Al Gore personally do the training of presenters?

The main training for the project was carried out by Mr Gore. The basis of the training is around the detail in presenting Mr Gore’s now famous slide show. The Climate Project slideshow is based on the Academy award winning An Inconvenient Truth, though with more additional focus on solutions. His energy and magnetism is astounding in what was a hugely inspiring event that I will never forget.

What is in the presentation?

Climate science is a major part of the presentation, as it is essential to convey the magnitude of the crisis and to dispel any doubt that may exist for some people.

A compelling addition to the science part of the presentation is the issue of increased precipitation events of rain and snow over recent decades. The determining factor of these increased precipitation events, both in size and frequency, is that a warming biosphere contains more heat energy than previously and the whole weather system becomes more dynamic, with ‘huge rivers’ of moisture laden air moving large distances into areas of lower pressure.

Al Gore introduced the recent Queensland floods into his presentation as an event that was happening “as we speak”. Although scientists do not tend to claim one specific event as evidence of global warming or climate change, the trends of more extreme weather events are compelling. These include extended drought periods in some regions and more intense wet spells in other regions, and Australia has certainly experienced both of these trends in recent years.

What are some of the main causes of carbon pollution in our region, and how can Australia, with a relatively small population, have an impact in solving the climate crisis?

Much attention was given to Indonesia’s peat forest clearing for timber, draining the swamps and burning them in preparation for palm oil plantation. This contributes significantly to Indonesia being the second highest land use CO2 emitter, to Brazil.

The natural forests of both these countries are considered to be of little economic value until they are removed and developed into crop or pasture land. These forests are enormous stores of carbon, not to mention biodiversity.

The best option to reverse this trend is to move quickly toward a carbon economy where carbon has a value and can be traded in a competitive international market. This will put a measurable economic value on natural forest, whereby retaining them will be more economically viable than destroying them.

How does a carbon economy work?

Placing a penalty value on CO2 emissions, the major cause of the climate crisis, will drive major energy efficiency by industry, households and agriculture. It is critical to note that Australians are among the highest emitters of carbon pollution, per person, in the world.

What’s Australia doing to be part of this solution, and what’s being done locally?

Australia is slowly moving toward putting a price on carbon with the formation of the Multi Party Climate Change Committee.  Professor Ross Garnaut is currently updating the economic modelling to present to this committee. The member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott MP is a member of this important committee. Part of this process is to effectively communicate, with community and business, the issues around effective action on climate change, and The Climate Project is part of this process.

Thank you Steve.

As a presenter for The Climate Project, Steve will be conducting public sessions as well as presenting to a variety of interested groups.

For more information, contact stevelockhart@bigpond.com

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