Meet the Indiana delegates headed to the Paris climate talks 


Indiana gets a bad rap for our poor record on environmental quality, but our grassroots environmental leaders? They’re top notch. In just a few short weeks, four Indiana residents are taking their local leadership global by traveling to Paris to influence the negotiations, connect with the global climate movement and report the news out of Paris to Hoosiers back home. Each one hopes to influence world leaders and make sure the outcomes of a new global climate agreement work for Indiana. Here’s what they want you to know:


Name: Denise (Blackburn) Abdul-Rahman

Hometown: I was born in Lafayette, grew up in Fort Wayne and have lived in Indianapolis for 20 years

Affiliation: I am a Climate Justice Alliance Delegate for the NAACP Indiana and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJA)

What does going to Paris mean to you?

It is imperative for all to get involved and stop the climate from changing. Personally, I want to do my part to steward God's Green Earth. I want to be one more representative for communities of color, frontline, low income, affected and vulnerable communities. I personally want to represent Indiana and shine a light on the urgent need for us to implement a rigorous State Clean Power Plan.

What do you hope to see as an outcome in Paris?

I hope that the COP21 will adhere to GGJA petition, which calls for “mandatory emissions standards, keeping fossil fuel in the ground, reject fracking, nuclear, carbon markets, strengthen the inclusion of human rights and support community-rooted solutions.”

Why are you committed to working on climate justice?

Communities of color and low income communities are lacking adequate systems and resources. Our work as the NAACP Environmental Climate Justice Program strives to make them resistant.

If you could tell lawmakers in Indiana one thing about climate change, what would you tell them?

Stop putting profits before people!

What can your neighbor do about climate change in Indiana?

Call and write your legislators tell them to support the Clean Power Plan and all just energy policies.

Keep up with Denise’s journey to Paris @indiananaacpecj


Name: Amanda Shepherd

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Affiliation: Hoosier Environmental Council (Senior Outreach Coordinator), Earth Charter Indiana (volunteer)

Why are you going to Paris?

To be a part of the movement encouraging strong climate action and to represent the voice of Hoosiers concerned about the impact of climate change on future generations.

Why are you committed to working on this issue?

I have three incredibly bright and amazing daughters and they are the reason I have been involved in this fight for over a decade. I want to do everything I possibly can to insure a habitable world for them with the ease of access to necessities that I have enjoyed my entire life.

What do you wish lawmakers in Indiana knew about the Paris climate talks?

Climate change should not be a partisan issue. It is a real problem that must be acknowledged and we must come together as a nation and a globe to address it with a comprehensive and aggressive plan coming out of the COP21.

If you could tell your neighbor one thing about climate change, what would you tell them?

You can make a difference. Use your voice and your power through the political process to make your concern known. Write letters. Sign petitions. March for action. Spend your money wisely. Vote. Speak voice to power in every possible way you can.

Amanda will be live-tweeting from Paris @ashepherd79

click to enlarge garrett.jpg

Name: Garrett Blad

Hometown: North Liberty, IN

Affiliation: SustainUS, Fossil Free ND, GreeND

Why are you committed to working on climate justice?

Last summer I canvassed in low-income minority communities in St. Louis, MO, weeks before Michael Brown was shot. There, I learned that climate change is so much more than solar and wind power. It is about economic, gender, and racial justice. It is about people power. It is about reclaiming our democracy to create the economic and social structures that don’t exploit the planet and its people. I am committed to work on climate justice because I have benefitted from the systems currently in place and others have not. I have a responsibility to do what I can to help others.

What do you hope to accomplish in Paris?

There is a story to tell in Paris about grassroots mobilizations, rejected fossil fuel projects, and community renewable energy projects. Stories of people shifting the power and reclaiming it for themselves. For the past 5 months I have been bicycling between the U.S. and Paris with a project called Climate Journey, collecting and sharing these stories.

If you had one thing to tell your neighbor about climate change, what would it be?

If you feel powerless in the face of climate change, take action with others. Across all ten countries we have cycled through these past 5 months, it was unanimous: organizing your community — whatever that may be — to take large-scale action on climate change empowers people. Time and time again, people say that joining the movement in a bold way was the best decision they ever made.

See how Garrett’s international bike tour wraps up in Paris by following him at @climatejourney


Name: Shannon Anderson

Hometown: Jamestown, NY

Affiliation: Earth Charter Indiana

Why do you care about solving climate change?

We have ignored this issue for far too long, billions of people are counting on us. Food insecurity, water shortages, the tremendous cost of extreme weather events — these are a death sentence for many. And perhaps, most of all, our beautiful planet, a rare treasure in the universe, has allowed this flourishing of life, a wealth of biodiversity, which not only provides for stunning scenery, it teaches us about natural and physical phenomena. It’s unjust to ourselves, it’s unjust to the earth.

What do you hope to see as an outcome in Paris?

A binding global climate agreement that satisfies all physical requirements to keep our planet from warming more than 2ºC, a Green Climate Fund that is sufficient to meaningfully move developing nations towards sustainable energy and industry, and nations who are committed to progressive goals at home to move towards a carbon-neutral civilization.

What do leaders in Indiana need to hear about climate change?

This moment requires everyone to do everything they can. Scientists tell us that we will require an “all of the above” strategy to meet this challenge and succeed. We have the resources, the technology, the people, and the knowledge to make our transition possible. What we need is the political will and an attitude that asks “how can we make this work?” Not one who says “that’s too complicated, we can’t do that.” You have a huge opportunity to be a leader in Indiana, so take it.

You can follow Shannon and all the action in Paris on Twitter @si2016 and @ECharterIndiana

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About The Author

Lauren Kastner

Lauren Kastner

Lauren joined Cummins Inc. as an Environmental Sustainability and Policy Senior Analyst in 2013 after graduating from Indiana University-Bloomington with degrees in journalism and public affairs. While in college, Lauren led a four-year Campuses Beyond Coal campaign that secured a commitment to transition the... more

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