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Environmental Challenges
and the Power of Women

By Redwood Mary

Climate Change and Women - Taking Time to Be Informed

Here is something we all should know about. The United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Poznan, Poland from December 1st -12th, 2008.

Recognizing that Climate Change is a threat to everything we do on this planet, the ultimate objectives of these meetings are about creating agreements and action plans to stabilize or mitigate greenhouse gases at concentrations in the atmosphere and at a level that would prevent further havoc on our climate system.

This all is associated with the Kyoto Protocol that the U.S. has yet to sign onto. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Conference of Parties (COP). The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five percent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

According to the UNFCC, The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialized countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.

Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Green house gas emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. 183 Parties of the Convention have ratified its Protocol to date. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 (aka 7th Conference of Parties) in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the “Marrakesh Accords.”

The UNFCC COP13 that took place last December in Bali, was quite significant. "For the first time in UNFCCC history, a worldwide network of women for climate justice, was established. The group Gender Climate Change Network published several position papers articulating women’s and gender perspectives on the most pressing issues under negotiation. And for the first time a range of activities on women’s and gender issues was organized by various organizations and institutions." Their efforts resulted in increasing awareness and increased expression of commitment to gender justice from a number of stakeholders attending the COP13. To find out more about this amazing group of dedicated women and their plans for the meetings in Poznan do visit their website at http://www.gendercc.net/network.html

Now….not all of us can get to Poznan this December. So what can we do here? … where we live?

Taking Action Together!

Here in the United States women have been working on issues that impact our well being and the security of our families. From working for a cure for breast cancer, to preventing childhood lead poisoning and stopping the way over the top pesticide spraying in our communities to environmental justice – many women are out there working on these issues. And what about Climate Change?

We need more women to be at city council meetings, and planning commission meetings, etc.-- with our children if need be-- bringing up the fact that ignoring women’s roles in our communities leads to ‘gender-blind’ policies, meaning that our unique voices are missing from the very programs that impact our lives. We need the new Green Buildings as in homes, apartments and offices- designed with our input. We need new buses and bus transit routes designed for our mom and pops with kids and elder lifestyles.

We as women also need the opportunities to find each other and learn from each other’s work and support each other. Our local governments need to make that space for us. Don’t be shy. Make it happen.

The lesson of Hurricane Katrina for women and their families is that their interests were compromised by the levels of policy decisions that did not include them at the table. In the aftermath of the devastation rendered by Hurricane Katrina, the gender dimensions of poverty and recovery on the Gulf Coast have largely been overlooked. The scientific models predict, and recent weather events exacerbated by climate change indicate, that climate change related events will increase in frequency and severity. Education is needed to highlight how women and girls are impacted by climate change events, and what causes climate change, in order to have them involved in preventative policy decisions at all levels ( from local to regional to national and international meetings) and in the post disaster recovery and rebuilding planning.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research report and analysis emphasizes women’s increased vulnerability during times of natural disasters and lays out policy recommendations that pinpoint how best to address those needs in the wake of this disaster, and in anticipation of the next. For more information on this go to: Women in the Wake of the Storm: Examining the Post-Katrina Realities of the Women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/GulfCoastExecutiveSummary.pdf

Women Get It Down In Writing!

Last year in the U.K. women got together to write a Women's Manifesto on Climate Change. Check it out at: http://www.wen.org.uk/general_pages/reports/manifesto.pdf

They asked their government for an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 to commit to keeping global warming under the 2 degrees Celsius danger threshold and for annual milestones to ensure these targets are met.

Green Mom's BLOGS

Have some time to spare after the kids are in bed? Want to connect with other "green mom's"? Want to learn about getting healthy organic foods in schools? Or want to be part of a Mom's Revolution to unite bloggy voices around one environmentally-conscious theme per month. Go to: http://organicmania.com/green-moms-carnival/

Need to find green books for kids or green baby bottles? You are one click away!: http://www.momcentral.com/blogs/mom-central-goes-green/

Water and Climate Change

According to Shiney Varghese of The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy that promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems, "The water crisis is no longer something that we know about as affecting developing countries or their poor in particular. It is right here in our own backyard. Today, in many parts of the U.S. we are nearing the limits of our water supplies." Here in California we are dealing with drought and elevated temperatures from urban heat islands.

How do we cope? We are busy- there is laundry to be done, errands to run, etc.etc.

First learn the facts:

Here are some ways to save water:


Climate is not weather!


Resources from The Greenhouse Network:


And to further Inspire you!

Grandmothers Unite! The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers http://www.grandmotherscouncil.com/

Have Fun! It's about the journey!


By Redwood Mary. Redwood Mary has been working from the local grassroots to the United Nations for over 15+ years and is a NGO delegate to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Redwood Mary's writings have appeared in Tree Magic, Satya Magazine, UN Commission on Human Settlements – HABITAT Debate, Bay Area Business Women, Awakened Woman E-Magazine, Berkeley Daily Planet, San Francisco Chronicle, etc. She holds a degree in public policy from Mills College Oakland California, a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from California State University, East Bay and has studied environmental sciences at College of the Redwoods (Ft. Bragg CA) and fine arts at San Francisco Art Institute and Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School for the Arts. You can reach Redwood Mary at redwoodmary (a) gmail.com.

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