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Milwaukee Representative Reflects on the COP21 Summit

The agreement reached at the Paris conference on climate change called COP21 happened with an unusually warm December in the background.  In Wisconsin, the run of high temperatures and prolific rains has extended into this week.  And while some attribute the weather to the well-known El Nino pattern, many say that it has been enhanced by the effects of climate change.

Several Milwaukee area people were a part of the COP21 activities, one of which was George Stone. Stone was a natural sciences professor at Milwaukee Area Technical College and organizer of the annual Sustainability Summit.  He’s retired from both of those positions, but attended COP21 and represented the City of Milwaukee and Congresswoman Gwen Moore at the proceedings. 

"The 20 previous meetings kind of sputtered and started and stopped and didn’t accomplish a great deal. This accomplished the most," he says.

The final agreement was narrowed down to 31 pages over the course of 12 days of negotiations. And while some critics point out the lack of accountability to enforce proper climate practices, there was a clear message of reducing reliance on fossil fuels. However, despite the loose interpretations and language in the agreement that lacks a universal procedure, Stone is hopeful for the future platforms this agreement will lead to.  

"It's not that all of the goals that are going to be necessary to slow down and control climate change were reached by any means," explains Stone. "But the process has been successfully started for the first time."

George Stone will be speaking at 7pm tonight at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Odgen and Astor Street in Milwaukee.