News Release — Climate Journey
June 15, 2015
Waitsfield, VT – As climate change negotiators, concerned citizens, and policymakers worldwide are preparing to descend on Paris this December for the twenty-first United Nations Climate Change Conference, Morgan Curtis, 23, and Garrett Blad, 23, are taking an unconventional path, packing their panniers for Climate Journey, a 10,000km bicycle expedition on their way to the long-awaited conference, where the next global climate agreement is to be decided upon. Moving slowly over five months between Vermont and Paris, they will travel through New England, eastern Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia and the UK.
With Curtis writing and Blad photographing, filming, collaging and painting, they will be communicating stories of individuals and communities mobilizing for a just transition to a climate-stable future. Starting in Vermont, they have been speaking with local people organizing against the proposed Vermont Gas Systems’ pipeline, understanding their motivations to act in response to climate change and fossil fuel extraction. They see their storytelling as a tool for inspiring followers from around the world, both to push for a binding, ambitious and equitable global climate treaty in Paris, and for grassroots climate action in 2016 and beyond.
On arrival in Paris, the two will be delegates within the conference, working alongside other leading US youth climate activists with SustainUS, a group that has been sending youth delegations to United Nations conferences since 2003. While negotiating on behalf of their own and future generations, Curtis believes that “it is crucial that we make heard the voices of those taking action on the frontlines of the climate crisis.” She hopes that decision makers, who have been negotiating climate change “for as long as I have been alive,” will step strongly towards the right side of history, universally ratifying a treaty that mandates emissions cuts from all countries, and “most especially, demands leadership from developed countries, providing the finance needed to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”
“I am setting out on my bicycle because I feel complicit in the unjust systems that are driving climate change,” Blad said. “With the knowledge and questions that I have, I cannot sit idle. During Climate Journey, we will highlight the voices of others who feel their interconnection with others on the planet and have decided to act. We go out not in search of answers, but with a willingness to listen and be humbled by the courage and resilience of those on the frontlines, hoping their stories will galvanize others to take bold action.”
About Morgan Curtis: Morgan is the Coordinator of Alumni for Dartmouth Divestment, the alumni campaign for Dartmouth College to divest from fossil fuels, as well as the Media Lead for the Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund. She grew up in the UK, and graduated from Dartmouth College with an engineering degree in 2014. She taught Environmental Issues at Chewonki Semester School in Maine as the 2015-15 Sustainability Fellow.
About Garrett Blad: Garrett graduated in May 2015 from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Sustainable Policy and Environmental Science. There, he co-founded and led Fossil Free ND, which campaigns for Notre Dame to divest its endowment from fossil fuels. He was born, raised, and educated in northwest Indiana.
About Climate Journey: Climate Journey is a 10,000km climate storytelling expedition to the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015. Climate Journey is in search of teammates, sponsors, crowdfunding and ideas for people and places to visit enroute through New England, eastern Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia and the UK. Learn more at climatejourney.org. Follow @climatejourney.
About SustainUS: SustainUS is a US national volunteer-based youth organization that empowers young people to create a more sustainable world through involvement in international summits and grassroots activities. Through its Agents of Change program, youth have the opportunity to participate in UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. SustainUS delegates have played significant roles lobbying negotiators, building bridges between international civil society groups, and serving as a moral voice for intergenerational justice. Learn more at sustainus.org. Follow @SustainUSAgents.