This blog is to offer some of my reflections as a member of the youth movement at the 2009 UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen. First a short background on the conference. This is the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-15 UNFCCC) and the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol. The UNFCCC, or Convention, is the foremost international treaty pertaining to the issue of climate change. Signed in Rio de Janeiro during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, organized by the U.N., the objective of the Convention is the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous antrhopogenic interference with the climate system". As the science of climate change has evolved in the past 17 years, the potential for dire consequences arising from inaction on climate change has become more clear. For the next two weeks delegations from over 190 signatory countries will meet and attempt to negotiate a deal for future international action on climate change. The hope, at least amongst the youth, is to see a bold and just agreement that ensures immediate and prolonged action on mitigating and adapting to present and future climate change. It is hard to say exactly what that bold and just agreement will be and even should be, but i hope to explore these concepts in this blog. I hope you enjoy it!
I'm writing from one of the two main Plenary rooms. There are over a thousand delegates sitting in front of me from nearly every country in the world. Amongst the official delegation's placards are seats from every intergovernmental and UN organization you can imagine. Alphabet soup, UN style. Behind them are a several hundred members of civil society. Non-profits, NGOs, old, young, from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia North America and South America. Half of us have headphones on which translate the speeches by delegates into Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese, Arabic, and English, the official languages of the U.N. At the front of the room, if you could even call it that, are two enormous screens projecting the speakers for the entire meeting to see. Front and center sits the president, secretariat and several other officials to the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This morning, speeches from the floor have been dominated by voices of the developing countries calling for bold and legally binding action within the next two weeks. Each speech voicing concerns about rising tides, expanding deserts and increasing storms has been followed by vigorous applause from the back of the room where I sit. There is a palpable sense of urgency coming from the civil society and the developing nations. But the developed countries easily resist, citing market based solutions such as cap and trade, new financing and, more implicitly, a sense of developed country's exceptionality.
Both inside and outside the Plenary room, the youth presence is strong and undeniable. This very moment, Amira Karim, a 20 year old leader of the youth movement here in Copenhagen, is speaking to the entire plenary meeting. She brings the voice of the youth, stressing the importance of all countries to recognize and act upon their historical responsibility, and our personal stake as youth, who will be alive and well come 2050 to witness the worst effects of climate change, social, political, economic, and ecological. Outside the plenary room too, the youth movement has proven to be a strong presence in the past few days. Last night the U.S. State department held a briefing on the state of negotiations and the U.S. position coming into the next two weeks. The briefing was standing room only, I, along with 15 other youth, sat in the front row. Behind us about 40 more youth sat speckled throughout the room. Lead negotiator of the U.S. State department' special envoy for climate change, Jonathan Perhsing, and head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, sat 10 feet in front of us. During the question and answer session, more than half of the questions came directly from youth, both criticizing and exploring the U.S. position.
I hope that this post has helped you in better understanding what is happening in Copenhagen, and the currents of movement not necessarily represented by the mainstream media. This is my first blog ever, so let me know if there is anything I'm missing, and please post any questions. If there is anything you are interested in about the Convention, the Kyoto protocol, or just what is actually happening here i will do my best to keep you up to date!