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What Does Climate Agreement Mean For MO?

Ashley Wineland, above, is optimistic about what the Paris climate agreement will bring to Missouri. (Wineland)
Ashley Wineland, above, is optimistic about what the Paris climate agreement will bring to Missouri. (Wineland)
December 17, 2015

ST. LOUIS – The Paris agreement is being called a major turning point when it comes to the global approach to climate change, but advocates returning to the U.S. say there is still much work to be done at home.

Ashley Wineland, 23, was in Paris as part of the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club's student coalition, and says she is optimistic about the agreement, in which 196 countries, including the U.S., committed to keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius by slowing greenhouse gas pollution.

She says she hopes the deal will bring about real change globally and locally, because she believes climate change is one of the biggest threats facing her generation.

"Young people see this as both their future and as their present, and we see it affecting our communities and know that it's only going to get worse,” she stresses. “And we're going to have to deal with that. We're going to be left with that.”

Missouri is one of two dozen states that have filed suit against the government to stop the federal limits on carbon emissions from power plants under the Clean Power Plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency maintains its rule is legal and will withstand all court challenges.

Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s executive director, was also in Paris as the landmark deal was finalized. He says the challenge for the U.S. is to make the energy transition in a way that honors the contributions that coal, oil and gas dependent regions have made to the country's economy.

"How do we make sure that those workers and those communities are part of a clean energy economy?” he says. “We know that the world can't continue to build fossil fuels. But, we also know that we can't simply transition to clean energy without being thoughtful about the economic ramifications of that transition."

Wineland says she believes the global accord will create momentum for Missourians to implement changes at the state and local levels.

"It gives them some legal power, too,” she states. “Like, you know, this was an international agreement, we need to uphold this, like we need to implement this. So think it's a really good bargaining chip. "

Wineland adds that the sheer number of young people who attended the climate talks gives her hope for a greener future for Missouri and beyond.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO