Climate Change Conference

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A climate change conference was recently held at Arizona State University as part of a worldwide day of conferences, with results ultimately being forwarded to United Nations delegates. ASU professors Netra Chhetri and James Buizer took part in the conference, and will talk about the results.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said today he plans to continue with his crime suppression sweeps, this despite losing federal authority to arrest illegal immigrants based solely on their immigration status. Arpaio says he believes the Department of Homeland Security removed that authority from the sheriff's department as a way to try to stop Arpaio's crime suppression sweeps. Arpaio opinions of the actions by the feds, "It's all politics." A citizens conference on climate change was held recently in 38 countries. Arizona State University hosted one of five of those forums here in the U.S. The one-day worldwide conference on global warming included a survey to help find consensus on climate change. The results will be forwarded to delegates who will meet at a United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen this December. Here now to talk about ASU's part in the recent worldwide forum is James Buizer, science policy advisor to ASU President Crow and Executive Director for Strategic Institutional Advancement, Office of the President. Also here is Netra Chhetri, assistant professor at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at ASU. Both attended the conference, and Chhetri organized the event. Thanks for joining us on "Horizon." Let's start with you. You helped organize this thing. What was the idea behind this?

Netra Chhetri: The idea is the seek the advice from citizens who otherwise have no chance to communicate their voice into the global political process, the global policy-making process. That's the reason why we organized it.

Ted Simons: Citizens, getting their reaction on something as volatile as climate change, is it wise? Or would you rather have experts?

James Buizer: The climate issue is important to everyone. We have experts and these experts have their voice. And in Copenhagen coming up later this year, they will have their voice. What's unique about this and why ASU has really cared about this, it's very important, in addition to the experts and government officials and corporate officials, that everyday citizens have a chance to have their voice heard, and in aggregate they will.

Ted Simons: Voices heard on I guess 12 questions in four thematic areas. What were the questions? Did you hear something different from Arizona residents than you heard worldwide?

Netra Chhetri: Well, there were several questions. For the major questions, such as addressing climate change, the voice was more or less similar with the global populations. 92% of Arizonans said that it's urgent.

Ted Simons: Was that a surprise to you, that Arizona residents were so in step with folks around the world?

Netra Chhetri: I was not totally surprised, as well, because as we are in a dry climate, arid climate, always the issue is scarcity of water issues. If something happens to our climate, we feel like our water resources will be in short supply. I was not totally surprised to have that number because it's the reaction to the local problem.

Ted Simons: Who were the participants? How were they chosen? Were they chosen? How did that process go along?

James Buizer: Netra is probably a better person to answer that. But in general, he hit the streets and went to the public markets and talked to people and tried to interest them in this process. He let them know they had an opportunity for a voice, and this voice could happen if they came to this event. The idea was to get a representative cross-section gender-wise, racially, economically, a cross-section of Phoenix so these hundred people could represent Phoenix.

Ted Simons: Things like rewarding compliance, cap and trade, taxing overconsumption seem to be very big among Arizonans. Does that show us in step with the rest of the world on those?

Netra Chhetri: Especially when it comes to taxing CO2. I would be surprised to see that Arizonans were up higher in that trend to tax, that was one thing I was surprised to see there.

Ted Simons: Also, one of the results from Arizona's end fossil fuel incentives as a way to allow the market to more work its way for renewables. Again, that seems like it makes sense, although I think some folks would say, let the market work and renewables are still at the bottom rung.

Netra Chhetri: What people are seeing here, if we keep on subsidizing for emitting fossil fuels, we are not going to solve this problem. So they are telling their government and their policy-makers we have to stop that subsidy, otherwise we are not going to be anywhere.

Ted Simons: How did ASU get involved in this?

James Buizer: ASU, through our president, is extremely committed to engaging our community. We are committed to having the University go beyond historically what has been an ivory tower kind of thing that generally universities are, to one that's embedded into the community and we can be responsive to the community. This is one of those ways we engage in literally thousands of ways with Arizonans and the Phoenix metro. We are also very, very committed to the sustainability of Arizona and the sustainability of Arizona. The future of people that live in this city, we're committed to understanding better climate change and the impacts of the climate change on our city. Put these three together, this was pretty much an obvious one for us.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, the results, you got the results from Arizona and all across the country, all across the world. Do they get shoved in a drawer somewhere? How do you get action from this?

James Buizer: I'll let Netra answer as far as when it comes to Copenhagen. We will be taking these results; The National Science Foundation has agreed to fund Netra and his team of scientists to help us better understand these results mean and take it further locally here and at ASU.

Netra Chhetri: We have sort of a strategic plan to take the regions from one level to different levels. At the local level what I'm going to do in late October and November, I'm going to go to different public libraries and share the research. People will be invited to participate and then, again, hear from me about the other countries, as well. At the national level we will make sure that the delegates will be representing the United States, and the U.N. summit would also be heard. At the global level, we will make sure that the host of the upcoming event in Copenhagen will get the results. In fact, the environment and energy minister from Denmark is the host and also the advisor of the worldwide views on global warming.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

Netra Chhetri: Thank you.

James Buizer: Thank you.

Netra Chhetri:ASU Professor;James Buizer:ASU Professor;

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