Just got back to Basia’s (turns out she’s not called Barbara but Basia, to her friends – such as us). It’s been a long but inspiring day.
So many people from so many places! When I think about what an effort it seemed to me to raise the funds and organise my life so I could get here, it pales in comparison to what some people have done. Five people from the Australian Youth Delegation got here overland! Trains, buses, taxis from Australia, up through Southeast Asia, north through China and westwards along the Trans-Siberian Railway. Took them 40 days and they reduced their CO2 emissions from travel by about 75% – and had an amazing time doing it!
They did a talk about it and there was one thing that really struck me: they were saying how it was brilliant, being the change you want to see in the world – and really important – yet this isn’t enough. For everyone to be the change they want to see – i.e. reduce their carbon footprints – we need to radically change the infrastructure around us. So build high-speed train links across continents, power internet cafes by windmills, reduce the packaging on the food in shops. And for this, we need not just personal commitment (though that is hugely important and very fulfilling and FUN!) but also may be a Green New Deal.
The international youth present at the conference today were incredibly un-representative of global youth. There were three, may be four people from Africa – that’s an entire continent. I think there was one person from Latin America. Asia: a few from India, but the Indonesian youth delegation that was so big last year (when the conference was in Bali) had not been able to make it because of lack of funding.
Meanwhile, there were 15 of us from the UK, and more than 20 from each of the US, Canada and Australia. We work in English because it’s the logical thing to do, the language curriculum in the UK being what it is, and because most people attending have very good English skills. Yet this does nothing to reduce the overly Anglo-Saxon feel of the whole thing – especially as the Canadian and US youth “dels” have been doing this for so long so are very confident and knowledgeable. This is a shame for the delegates here who may feel it’s harder to speak out – and more importantly, it’s damaging to the international youth movement as a whole because there are continents of perspectives and ideas we’re missing.
It’s not gone unnoticed, and there’s going to be talk tomorrow of gathering funds to support people from a more diverse spread of countries at the crucial talks in Copenhagen next year.
We’ve divided ourselves up into teams: Outreach/Actions, Communciations, Youth Media, Policy, Delegation Coordination – probably more! There are more young people at this conference than ever before at a UN Climate Change conference, so lots of potential. I’m on the comms team at the moment and we’ve been discussing our messaging – more news on that later!
Second and final day of COY (welcome to the UN – acronyms galore!) tomorrow, then down to business with those UN negotiators – they don’t know what’s going to hit them!