YOUNGOs to Fight for Climate Justice

by Mariana Calderon

Youth NGOs have long had an active voice in the negotiations, a role that take large amounts of coordination, planning, and hard work. Bright and early at 8:30 every morning, representatives from a variety of youth organizations gather to discuss and decide on matters regarding the YOUNGO position, actions, and campaigns. Recently, the YOUNGO Article 6 working group’s efforts paid off, and they managed to push through a decision in the negotiations that addressed all of their demands and included in the final Article much of the text the group developed regarding Education, Training,and Public Awareness, key points for young and future generations.

The work continues, however. With the start of the second week of negotiations, a campaign point for Youth has been decided upon. This morning’s YOUNGO Spokes-council resulted in the decision to focus much of this week’s work on 1.5°C.  This abstract number actually refers to a key point in climate change negotiations – the total amount of global temperature rise due to green house gas (GHG) emissions that should be permissible. Another, and perhaps more accepted, amount of temperature rise that is considered in negotiations is 2°C. However, with a temperature rise of 2°C, we would run the risk of condemning communities, even entire nations, to climate disaster, economic collapse, and possible disappearance . Small island nations in particular, such as the Maldives, Seychelles, or Cape Verde, face the most immediate danger from rising sea levels, and as Ronny Jumeau, ambassador to the U.S. and permanent representative to the United Nations for the Seychelles, declared “Save the Island States, and you save everyone!” While a 1.5°C goal may seem overly ambitious, even impossible, for nations that have yet to even adhere to their mitigation goals for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, it is unjust to expect vulnerable nations to compromise their very existence, and inhumane to be comfortable with doing so.

Youth NGOs have decided to continue their work in this fight for survival. Last week at Klima Forum, a video was made that demanded “1.5°C for Survival,” and this week’s work will continue with that theme. The campaign will start with an action at the Moon Palace tomorrow, the last day that YOUNGOs will be permitted to stage actions at this venue. As the negotiations grow more tense, so do the security regulations, and after tomorrow’s deadline, youth won’t even be permitted the small square of space the secretariat had provided for actions previously. Thus, a combined meeting of both the action and strategy working groups convened after spokes-council, and produced a proposal for the secretariat by noon, the cut off point for the 24 hour proposal deadline. Much of the discussion revolved around the need for Youth to be on the front line for human rights, focusing on using the numbers given to us by science to facilitate climate justice work, instead of using climate justice arguments to further empty scientific pledges.  The first action of the week will focus on those lives already lost to climate disasters worldwide, and aims to set a somber tone that depicts the  urgency of the issue. It will take place sometime during the lunch break of 1pm-3pm, and will be right on the doorstep of the negotiators. Details are being hashed out as I write, and the media has already gotten a hint of what’s to come. Keep tuned for updates and photos as to how the campaign plays out!

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