Parkite Sierra Quitiquit serving as NATO Youth Protect the Future representative
33-year-old Park City native Sierra Quitiquit, a skier turned activist, is one busy woman.
As the U.S. Youth Ambassador to NATO, Sierra Quitiquit is working to bring attention to global climate work she sees as urgent.
She told KPCW she was inspired after meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. His accountability and commitment to addressing climate change didn’t strike her as political rhetoric or finger-pointing.
"I could tell that he really understood the urgency of this issue and he wasn't pointing the finger," Quitiquit said. "He was taking full accountability. They have pledged to go net neutral by 2050 and a 45% reduction by 2030. And they've put a billion dollars into a fund that includes approaching climate security and investing in green tech for next year alone."
Quitiquit’s work focuses on climate security and a warming planet that threatens national security in the Americas and Europe. Rising temperatures, catastrophic flooding, and droughts cause unrest, she said, and force refugees to flee their home countries.
"We can plan on a lot of climate migrations, a lot of climate refugees," Quitiquit said. Refugees are already happening even here in the United States. In Europe, they can expect that a lot of the African nations will become more inhospitable. We need to think about addressing climate change from a security issue because climate change is really a threat multiplier when it comes to security."
Quitiquit will attend the 27th United Nations Convening of the Parties (COP) conference in Egypt this fall. She said the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 produced the most comprehensive global treaty on carbon reductions.
The international effort continues as U.N. member countries seek 45% carbon reductions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.
Quitiquit also founded timeforbetter.org. It's a marketing agency producing climate change awareness events and helping other organizations with climate communications.
Quitiquit said, "We're focused on bringing together the ecosystem of climate solutionist, so from indigenous wisdom to private sector technology, policy leaders holding space for people to address this urgent issue."
Quitiquit said her childhood and professional skiing career showed her firsthand the effects climate change has on snowfall.
That’s not all she’s up to: she and environmentalist photographer Meg Haywood Sullivan created Plastic Free Fridays. The mission is to end the use of single-use plastics.
"And we wanted to create a space for the general public to join the climate movement," Quitiquit said. "We realize it's a big stretch to get people to get involved in politics and to understand the complexities of climate change. But plastic is such a massive issue, and the fossil fuel industry is only looking to dump more and more into plastics."
Quitiquit has been working on climate change and trying to influence policy for 15 years. She said she’s encouraged by climate legislation passed by the House and is awaiting President Biden’s signature.
"I've been through so many different emotional layers of feeling like we'll never get there," Quitiquit said. "And recently, there has been an absolutely fantastic bill which provides 10x Climate Change funding than any other bill in history.”
Links to Quitiquit's climate projects are in the online version of this report on KPCW.org.