Students at Cal State Long Beach had the opportunity to ask State Sen. Ricardo Lara from the 33rd District about the present and future action on climate change Tuesday morning.
Monica Argandoña, advisor for the environmental science and policy program, arranged for her global environment class to communicate with Lara through Zoom, a video conferencing service similar to Skype.
Lara called the class from Bonn, Germany while attending the United Nations 23rd Annual Conference of the Parties Climate Conference.
Though President Donald Trump recently opted out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement on June 1, Lara and other national leaders attended the conference to support an effort to slow climate change. They wanted to show they’re still encouraging action to preserve the environment and show that not everyone in the U.S. is pro-fossil fuels.
Other U.S. states with representatives in attendance included Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Minnesota, forming their own outpost. These states are doing the most to protect the environment, according to The Climate Group.
Argandoña said that several professors who teach environmentally-related subjects received an email asking if they would be interested in doing a conference call with Sen. Lara.
A collection of about 25 student questions were written in advance.
Sophomore English major Ly-Bach Truong asked Lara about whether he believes there should be a regulation that requires public school students be taught about climate change.
Lara said that Truong’s question gave him a new bill idea for educating students about the environment at a young age.
“We want to look at figuring out how we can implement a climate change curriculum at our elementary schools,” Lara said.
Truong believes that the key to educating people about climate change is to open their mind to the idea at a young age.
“If [climate change] is taught formally in education, then you can really make an impact that can last for several generations,” Truong said.
On Monday, protesters came together at the United Nations conference to disrupt a presentation organized by the Trump administration.
“You claim to be an American, but we see right through your greed,” protesters sang to the tune of patriotic song, “God Bless the U.S.A.”
According to the World Resources Institute, several countries presented their efforts to reduce the effects of climate change. Representatives from India said that they plan to increase their use of non-fossil fuels by 40 percent while China has set targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 to 65 percent. Mexico added that they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent. These nations plan to achieve these goals by 2030.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration attended the conference to promote the usage of coal and burning of fossil fuels.
Lara said that their subject matter for their demonstration was “unbelievable” and caused his “student activism” to come out.
“I was actually protesting with them. Check my insta,” Lara said, as some students laughed. “I couldn’t help myself.”
After China, the U.S. is the second largest climate change contributor in the world.
The U.S. is the only country that is not a part of the Paris Climate Agreement, since Syria formally joined on Nov. 14.
“Despite what’s happening at the administrative level, we’re still moving forward on this,” Argandoña said. “The world thinks this is an important issue and that we have to take it seriously and it was nice to have that representation in [Lara] to share that experience.”