Credit: Adam Greenberg
Credit: Adam Greenberg
Yesterday was Young and Future Generations Day, and among the many events that took place, one message came across loud and clear: The time for political inaction has run out.
Young people have a critical role to play in the negotiations, one that is often underutilized. As the primary stakeholders in the outcomes of this conference, youth have a right to demand more of negotiators, of the targets they are setting, and of the process. Youth are pushing for policies that not only insist upon necessary emissions reductions, but also confront the roots of inequity that exist in the current systems.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres warned youth not to pick up the bad habits of negotiators and stay ambitious in a session titled “An Intergenerational Inquiry”. In response, 16-year old Mokgadi Seemola silenced the room stating, “Because of some of the wrong decisions some negotiators have made, my dream is shattered.” Drought has devastated her South African community and now she faces the harsh realities of climate change. She had hoped to share the world she grew up in with her children, and that is now impossible. This and the many other bold statements delivered by youth provided a much needed bridge between the often impersonal act of developing text and the larger context and human face of global climate change.
The negotiators at this conference have heard the message: There is no more time.
The question that remains is: What action will they take?
Today the international youth delegation will sound the alarm to the world, declaring “no confidence” on the road to Copenhagen. A young person from every continent will join together to say they are not being dramatic. They will state what they see as obvious; what is likely to come out of Copenhagen will not secure their future.
But they have not given up hope. The youth believe that an acceptable outcome from Copenhagen is still possible. Specifically, they would like to remind delegates (once more) that to secure the survival of all nations and peoples, global warming must be kept below 1.5 degrees; this means stabilising CO2 in the atmosphere at 350 ppm.
But since none of the Parties here seem to want to step up and lead to this, it is time for someone else to show climate leadership.
Today, a new way will be proposed. The youth will lead. Please follow.
At a press conference at 1.30pm today, the youth will categorically remind leaders what an inadequate outcome in Copenhagen would mean to the nations of the world. It will then outline steps that must be taken to achieve a deal that puts everyone on the road to a secure future. They will show how youth all over the world are already taking action to achieve this future and are coming together to solve the climate crisis. They will show what it means to lead!