CCL Conservative Fellow attends UN event

Jacob Abel Conservative Fellow

Jacob Abel, one of CCL’s Conservative Fellows

CCL Conservative Fellow attends UN event

By Jamie Ptacek

In recent weeks, we’ve seen countries across the world gather at the UN’s COP25 in Madrid. Earlier this fall, the UN hosted another key climate conference. Youth climate activists from over 140 countries and territories converged in New York City for the UN Youth Climate Summit, an event that kicked off the three-day UN Climate Action Summit. This gathering was the first-ever UN-hosted event dedicated explicitly to giving a diverse group of young leaders a platform to engage with decision makers on issues related to climate action. One of those young leaders was Jacob Abel, one of CCL’s Conservative Fellows. 

Tackling climate change as a conservative

Jacob is in his senior year at Seton Hall University, where he is working toward a B.S. in Diplomacy and International Relations. His climate activism journey began during his freshman year at Seton Hall when he heard Alex Bozmoski, of RepublicEn.org, discuss a conservative, market-based approach to addressing carbon emissions. “I had noticed that there weren’t really any conservative approaches to addressing climate change, and the ideas Alex presented really struck me as a real conservative way to address climate change,” Jacob says. “After talking with Alex, I decided to become a spokesperson for RepublicEn and have been one ever since.” Jacob also joined CCL as a Conservative Fellow in August, taking on the task of engaging more conservatives in CCL’s work. It was through Jacob’s work with RepublicEn and CCL, as well as his engagement with the UNA-USA, that he was invited to attend the UN Youth Climate Summit. 

Jacob’s takeaways from the summit

“I greatly enjoyed seeing so many young people coming together to address and discuss climate change,” Jacob says. “I was able to attend multiple panels that discussed ways for entrepreneurship to address climate change as well as see the Secretary General speak.” Jacob was also interviewed by several news outlets, like BBC World News and NowThis, which he called a “great experience.” You can watch and share Jacob’s NowThis segment here: 

Jacob also sees room for growth in future Youth Summits. “I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more opportunities for students who attended to voice their concerns directly to the UN,” he explains. “However, I think this Summit is something that could serve a great role in the future and that it should continue to be held.” 

Overall, Jacob left the event feeling inspired. “To see so many young people coming together to address climate, no matter their backgrounds, was very inspiring. My biggest takeaway was that pressure is clearly building all over the world on leaders to start implementing real policy to address climate change.”

Jacob plans to keep on playing a role in advancing climate-related policy changes. “I want to continue to educate people on carbon pricing and try to shift the Republican party’s official stance on climate change. In the next five years, I hope to be working in Washington, D.C., in some capacity on Capitol Hill. I hope that the world will finally come together within the next five years to address climate change or at the very least that the United States has begun to adopt serious policies to address climate change.” 

Engaging more young conservatives

For this shift to occur, Jacob believes young people, and young conservatives, are key. “It’s vital for youth to engage in issues related to climate change because our voices do make a difference,” Jacob says. “Young conservatives are in large part the people moving the Republican party on this issue. This is an issue that my generation will start to see drastic effects from, so we have to get involved now. We are living in a time when Washington is in deadlock over most policy issues, but climate change is one of the issues that I think we can come together over.”

Jim Tolbert, CCL’s Conservative Outreach Director, echoes Jacob’s sentiment about towards the importance of engaging conservative voices. “The climate dialogue, as in many others in the United States, is often rooted in people’s political leaning. Liberals listen to other liberals and disregard conservative points; conservatives listen to other conservatives and disregard liberal points. It is critical to have conservatives that understand climate instability speaking up on this issue.” Conservatives will be speaking up at CCL’s first-ever Conservative Climate Lobby Day event, Feb. 3-4, 2020. If you know someone who would be interested in attending, invite them to attend!

The work of CCLers like Jacob brings us closer each day to making climate change a clear bipartisan issue and, in so doing, creating the political will to pass substantive legislation that appropriately addresses the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. 

Jamie Ptacek is a communications intern at Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She has a B.A in Environmental Studies and Earth and Oceanographic Science from Bowdoin College. She has just returned back to the US after traveling through SE Asia for 10 months and plans to continue her work as a climate justice activist and organizer.

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