Smith Represents U.S. at UN

by Melissa True

“The limitations that we perceive we have are only those that we put on ourselves,” said senior International Affairs major Marcie Smith. Smith has recently been chosen to become one of 19 youth leaders from across the country to represent the United States at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Poznan, Poland.

This delegation is part of the SustainUS Agents of Change program and is composed of young people involved in international environmental and political issues. This conference is especially significant because of the upcoming meeting in Copenhagen in which there will be a revising of the Kyoto protocol. Smith offered the mission statement of the delegation: “We are calling for American leadership on a bold, binding and just international climate treaty with science-based target by Copenhagen 2009.”

“We want an international climate treaty, and we want U.S. leadership. The United States is the largest emitter of carbon per capita in the world. You cannot have a meaningful climate treaty unless the leading polluter is part of the solution,” said Smith.

Smith is one of the youngest members of the delegation and one of the only representatives from the southeastern region of the U.S. Other representatives include a Truman Scholar, a Watson Fellow and a Fulbright Fellow.

“This is not something that other Transy students couldn’t do. I don’t want people to be impressed by this. They should be invigorated,” said Smith.

Smith noted that the conference will have both a direct action portion and a policy portion. Members of the delegation will be working on policy briefs and platforms concerning issues of deforestation, emissions caps and land use, which will be reviewed by policy makers.

“As a delegation, we have access to those policy makers. We will have the opportunity to hold their attention and articulate why we want change and why we want the things we are asking for.”

Smith spent the winter term of 2008 in Madagascar researching the effects of the mining industry in that country. Over the summer she completed an internship with the Institute for Environmental Security in the Hague, Netherlands.

She described these experiences and her background in environmental security as beneficial in preparing her for the conference. “The framework of security is really important to expanding the conversation of climate change.”

She went on to discuss the ways that conflict affects the environment. “We have to be ready for the worst case scenario from a security perspective. Not just one that affects American security, but global security,” said Smith.

Smith described her reasons for getting involved in environmental issues as very personal. “It was not a conscious thing, really,” she said. “I knew there was something very unjust about the cost and benefits of my consumption.”

She began her active involvement after viewing the film “An Inconvenient Truth.” Smith explained, “I had a very emotional, a very visceral response to the idea that my consumption is resulting in this phenomenon called climate change, and that phenomenon is causing the life of many people around the world, frankly the lives of those who are least capable of bearing it, to be really hard, and that upset me. I wondered, ‘Why isn’t anyone talking about this?’”

Concerning the conference, Smith added, “I want to make sure that I am accurately representing the region. If anyone at Transy has thoughts or suggestions, I would like them to contact me.”

Smith can be reached at


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