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Conflict Resolution Institute

CRI News & Events

Keynote Speakers

James Geringer and Dr. Michael Dorsey

Former Governor James Geringer "Whose Climate Are We Trying to Change?
Getting Personal About Conflict and Consensus"

Former Wyoming governor James Geringer spoke Thursday night to a public audience, after a warm welcome by Chancellor Robert Coombe. Mr. Geringer's experiences as governor offered a great deal of insight for the conference attendees about the issues that governments are facing in collaboration on environmental issues and how to surmount those challenges.

He found it difficult to move forward on environmental issues because of simultaneous state, county and federal agencies pressing their own agendas. These separate agencies harbored suspicion of, and animosity towards, each other. Data sharing was an essential component of bringing these organizations together. Also, having various agencies develop collaborative reports and assessments about environmental issues in Wyoming helped 'get everyone on the same page'. Both of these efforts helped build trust and respect for each other's work.

Many of the meetings that the governor convened involved not only discussion of issues, but also implementation of plans drawn up at the meetings. In using collaborative governance in solving climate change, Governor Geringer stressed a need for cross sector cooperation that simultaneously moves various climate change mitigation solutions forward, rather than in a piecemeal fashion. Basically, there needs to be multiple strategies and multiple parties working together to implement those strategies. One of the major points that Governor Geringer stressed is that everyone can help solve the climate crisis. What initiative can you take in your own life and in your small community to help solve the problem?

Dr. Michael Dorsey "Obama and Climate Justice: Possibilities & Necessities for the Next 1000 Days"

The second keynote speaker was Professor Michael Dorsey of Dartmouth College. Within the climate change movement, Dr. Dorsey is on the forefront of an emerging area of research and activism known as environmental justice. His work focuses on how climate change will have much more adverse affects on the socially and economically poor than the wealthy populations. His talk
brought up key points on what the Obama administration has done so far and offered suggestions for directions it should take in alleviating climate change.

One of the major issues discussed by Dr. Dorsey is the effectiveness of cap and trade markets and offset exchanges in combating climate change that have been proposed in the first 100 days of the new administration. According to Dr. Dorsey, climate markets are an ineffective tool to bring about radical change. They cannot move quickly enough, only bring about consumer action (versus social and political action) and, most importantly, do not benefit those that desperately need the resources (poorer, developing nations).

For the next 1000 days, he belives the focus needs to shift from the mentality of 'markets as a panacea to climate change' to systemic support for developing resources and making sure that developing, poorer nations have due access to those resources for addressing climate change. Dr. Dorsey believes that mediators have a critical role in this task. Mediators have the ability to cultivate relationships between multiple parties and offer transparency to the process of collaboration in building resilient, just systems. 

Recently, the Ford Foundation awarded Dr. Dorsey a grant to launch the Climate Justice Research Project at Dartmouth, so that he may continue to investigate social injustices that occur within the climate crisis.

-- Jon Howard