Lynn Dash, UU-UNO Special Correspondent, has shared more notes with us from her experiences at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. These notes are from side events she attended on Thursday, 12/10, and illustrate both the ways that youth are affected by climate change and what they’re already doing to take action.

Youth have an incredible stake in the negotiations going on right now. Today I attended two “side events” organized by youth (defined as those under 25). Both had a sea of bright orange T-shirts, printed in front with “ How old will YOU be in 2050?” and on the back with “Don’t bracket our future.” Today I learned there are about 2000 youth here. Like the CAN—Climate Action Network—they are asking for an agreement that is FAIR—AMBITIOUS—BINDING. Yes, this sounds pretty elementary but it is very complicated, deciding on “Differentiated responsibility,” whether carbon off-sets should be counted, and a myriad of other technical details. The youth point out that in the end, it is their lives that are being affected more than the present negotiators.
In the workshop “Youth and Student Movements Leading the Way,” we heard about use of social networking technology to bring youth together from all over the world. They are reaching out to younger students, inspiring local actions, and creating innovative energy-saving devices. They are promoting intergenerational and inter-institutional cooperation. They are presenting their concerns to the powers that be in their towns, countries, and at the UN. Their careful study results in articulate presentations whether to peers, at a plenary session here with thousands of observers, or at a special briefing. Two young women, one from San Francisco and one from India, joined the environmental writer Bill McKibben to co-found the movement. Scientists say we need to reduce our greenhouse gases to 350 parts per million from our present 389 ppm to maintain our environment as we know it.
Another workshop focused on “Intergenerational Equity” and noted the growing number of young people around the world who are working on climate change. I am bringing back a little book entitled Climate Legacy Initiative: A New Legal Perspective on an Unprecedented Crisis, by one of the speakers, Tracy Bach from Vermont Law School. The responsibility the older generations have, to pass on a world as intact as the one they received, may be codified into law in some ways, but we know it is already a moral and ethical obligation. This reflects the wisdom of the Iroquois Nation Seventh Generation—whatever we do, let us think how it will affect our progeny unto the seventh generation.
Some interesting web sites: This past weekend some activities are being planned such as candlelight vigils to encourage an equitable Copenhagen agreement—the heads of state are coming this week)
www.studentsummit2010 world student summit for sustainability tomorrow—looking into Climate Action Network
Cheers to you all Stateside,
About the Author
Rowan Van Ness

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