UN’s People’s Climate Vote event held at Baruch

Judah Duke

The United Nations Development Programme hosted its inaugural The People’s Climate Vote event at Baruch College on Sept 21.

“We are sitting right in the middle of the world stage, the UN is right next to us,” Baruch President S. David Wu said.“And so, we certainly want to take advantage of that opportunity so that our students have first-hand exposure, not only to understand the US but the world when it comes to issues like climate change.”

Following the return of the UN General Assembly to New York on Tuesday Sept. 20, after two years of virtual meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event addressed the climate emergency and how data from the UNDP’s new survey is affecting climate policies around the globe.

Introduced by Wu during New York Climate Week, the event featured a discussion chaired by the UNDP’s Head of Climate Strategies and Policy, Cassie Flynn and was livestreamed on Twitter.

“This is something that I think is really important, particularly at Baruch. This is such a diverse place, a place where your experiences and your voice really matters – and this is something that is so critical to the climate crisis,” Flynn said.

Guest speakers Kevin J. Patel and Ana Sophia Mifsud spoke with the audience on their current projects and what solutions they felt are needed to address climate change.

“We all have to do our parts. Anyone can change their lifestyles, but I think right now collectively all of us college students can band together and hold these companies and governments responsible for their inaction on climate change,” Patel said.

Patel founded OneUpAction International in 2019, an organization that supports marginalized youth by providing them with resources to fight climate change.

He also founded the Youth Climate Commission in LA County, making youth voices heard in their local governments, according to his website.

Mifsud spoke, describing her experience with governments building carbon-free engineering projects around the world.

“Our global leaders are saying this is an important topic for them, but we all need to face the realities of climate change which includes putting our money where our mouth is and holding our leaders accountable,” Mifsud said.

She made GreenBiz’s 30 under 30 list in 2019, and is now a manager within the Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI) Carbon-Free Building team where she works with city and state governments to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in buildings.

The People’s Climate Vote was the largest climate survey ever conducted, launched by the UNDP in 2019 with over 1.2 million respondents. Taken in 17 different languages, the survey was conducted in over 50 countries which together make up 56% of the world’s population.

The survey asked questions about what climate actions the public expected from their governments – whether relating to jobs, energy, protecting nature or company regulations –providing useful data that would hopefully better inform world leaders’ nationally determined contributions.

After the Paris Agreement, the legally binding international treaty signed by 192 countries plus the European Union, nations have to submit a nationally determined contribution every five years.

This submission must include both an emissions reduction pledge, as well as policy plans that safeguard their populations from the effects of climate change.

President Wu said he hopes Baruch can continue to host events annually during Climate Week.