There will be world leaders, top scientists and others at next week’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and among them, two Whitman College students, who will be there in an official capacity.

Lisa Curtis
Lisa Curtis
 
Emily Rodriguez
Emily Rodriguez

Emily Rodriguez ’10 and Lisa Curtis ’10 were chosen by national organizations to represent those organizations, as well as the college, at the conference.

“I want to do everything I can to encourage the world leaders to enact policy informed by climate science,” said Curtis, Whitman’s campus sustainability coordinator. “I plan to push the U.S. delegation through lobbying meetings and grassroots action.”

Curtis is representing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She is its current youth advisor for North America and the coordinator of the North American youth network. And she was one of 20 youth delegates selected by SustainUS, a policy-oriented youth-run organization advancing sustainable development and youth empowerment in the United States. Curtis’ environmental efforts have included such activities as starting a program to distribute energy efficient light bulbs to lower-income Walla Walla, Wash. homes, and she developed lesson plans for school children on resource conservation.

Rodriguez — who helped develop guidelines for “Girl Scouts Forever Green,” a community action program that encourages girls nationwide to implement environmental projects such as habitat restoration in their local communities — was selected to represent the Girl Scouts of the USA and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts at the conference.

Jed Schwendiman, associate to the President and co-chair of Whitman’s Conservation and Recycling Committee, said “it is very inspiring to know that Lisa and Emily will soon be in Copenhagen rubbing shoulders with world leaders and representing Whitman at this historic conference.” He said he knows that Curtis, a White House intern last summer, is also looking forward to seeing U.S. President Obama again. “I know they are excited to take part of what could be a turning point on how the international community decides to face this challenge."

It’s “been called the most important meeting in history. The outcome of the climate conference in Copenhagen will determine what kind of planet we will have in the next 20-50 years,” Curtis wrote on her Facebook group page, which she will continue to update to share her experiences and photos from the conference.

— Virginia Grantier