Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Why I Care About Climate Change (but Eric, sea-level rise won't affect you)
It's simple. Go right to Martin Luther King Jr.; “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. As an American who contributes most to this crisis, I feel a responsibility to put my country on the front lines of this fight. By electing Barack Obama, the youth of this country have shown that they can elect a leader (more 18-30 year olds voted in this election than did Americans over 65) that will move us away from dirty coal, and other fossil fuels that would derail the clean energy revolution that a large majority of Americans are calling for.
As an Oklahoman, I feel even more responsible to confront this now to prevent environmental and human destruction in the future. Most Oklahomans know that climate change is a real threat to our livelihoods. Many farmers around the state are already taking the lead by switching to no-till crop rotation, not to be a leader on climate change, but to make a few extra bucks by saving fuel and selling carbon credits to rich, urban polluters. As Oklahomans, it would be truly shameful to forgo the lessons of the past and not do what we can to prevent environmental and human destruction brought on by climate change.
The Dust Bowl brought unprecedented destruction to our state and region, stripping families of children by filling their lungs with dust, sending thousands of us to California to be treated like animals, and our soil into the sky. Scientists say that if we do not begin to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in the next ten years we can easily see the same kind of destruction on a scale hundreds of times that of the Dust Bowl.
This is the great moral challenge of my generation. Our grandfathers went to war and defeated fascism, in two theaters of war. Our parents fought for civil rights, women in Mississippi picked their own teeth off the pavement, younger people than me sat soaking wet in cold southern jails after being hit by high-pressured fire hoses. My generation has the opportunity to safeguard the survival of mankind on this planet. Who is standing in our way? Not the Third Reich, or racist sheriffs or the KKK, its ourselves.
I'm confident that we will act in time. The question is whether or not we will include those who have been left behind in our society. We need green collar jobs to build the clean energy economy in those communities hardest hit by poverty, by pollution from fossil fuel production (overwhelmingly communities of color), rural communities, and areas hit by the recent economic downturn. Then we can think about saving the polar bear.
Get to Poland already, I thought thats what this was about
As someone so emotionally charged and ready to tackle climate change, the glacial pace of talks at a UNFCC Conference of Parties can make you pull your hair out. What was surprising to me was how the UN governmental process was much like our countries government. These two systems rarely are able to act quickly on any issue. The UNFCCC itself, came out of the Rio De Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. They've been trying to confront climate change for over 16 years now.
Myself and others clashed with other youth that pointed to our designated two-minute speech as the chance to show our true youth voice. The problem is we've been giving speeches on the urgency of this issue for 16 years and nothing has happened. The compromise was the rally you can see pictures of further down in this blog.
As a youth, I represented a majority of this world's population, the largest stake-holders in the fight against climate change. The good news is that I believe this generation has already become the leader on climate change. The call for an 80 percent reduction of emissions by 2050, widely adopted by those in government and the media, was pushed by students all across America. My university joined our organization at OU in calling for this reduction on our campus, joining thousands of other campuses across America and the world. We also understand that this is first and foremost a moral issue, an issue of human rights, and a threat to the fabric of nature that is able to support 6 billion people.
Poznan was a midpoint. Last year in Bali, delegates agreed on a two-year roadmap that many think will ensure a deal next year in Copenhagen. Some say enough was done in Poland this year to ensure that, but many countries could stand in the way, including our own. Its our job in the US to ensure that we have the two-thirds vote necessary to ratify a treaty in a little over a year and that we pass some domestic legislation on climate change that the US state dept. officials we talked to said would make it a lot easier to reach an agreement in Copenhagen. Let's go ahead and say that we've got 99 senators to win over; you can probably guess who I've already taken off the list.
I haven't decided if I'll be going to Copenhagen. It will be an incredible experience for anyone, the stakes will be much higher and I'm sure that youth and other interests will be there in a much greater force. I'm not a international climate policy expert, I went to Poznan to contribute to strategy development, grassroots outreach, and on the ground actions. There are hundreds of organizers across the country that could do just as good, if not a lot better in Copenhagen and deserve that opportunity (another reason I'm confident we'll beat climate change).
I was really proud of the job my SustainUS delegation did in Poznan; I learned a lot from them. There was Ben Wessel of Middlebury College in Vermont who after some drop outs became the focal point of our media strategy. John Doyle, a native of upstate New York and a student at UMBC in Baltimore, who headed up our grassroots efforts back in the states. David Sievers and Whit Jones, who I respect more than anyone in developing strategy and winning campaigns. Marcie Smith from Transylvania College in Lexington, KY who independently worked with governmental delegations from Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on issues of deforestation. So many others in our delegation I'd love to mention, and would if you asked. My delegation trusted me when I came to them with the action plans I had been working on with other international youth for three straight nights of four hour meetings over beers in bar basements all over Poznan and SustainUS probably had more participants in the final action than any other delegation.
There are incredibly intelligent, passionate, and devoted young people from all over the country working to secure the stability of our climate and our world. Most of them are volunteers, putting in hours of work without pay in their own communities to build this sustainable, clean energy society. Those of us in SustainUS were so honored to have a chance like this to put pressure on governments to take action internationally. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and one I will cherish. And when we look back after we've built this clean energy economy full of green jobs and healthy, sustainable communities we can say that this generation did rise to the challenge, first working with those in power, then taking the power when it was time, and making the decisions that ensured this future.
The support and love I felt on the ground in Poland and in Oklahoma inspire me to work towards my dreams everyday. I am so lucky to have such an incredible community of family, friends, faithful, activists, advocates, and dreamers backing me on this journey and whatever comes next. I'm in the position to do good because of you, I'll do my best and you will to and we'll build the future we want to see for our children and our grandchildren.
Thank you & Happy Holidays
Friday, December 19, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
cross-listed at itsgettinghotinhere.org
SURVIVAL IS NON-NEGOTIABLE
Youth frame the conversation at the UNFCCC in Poznan, Poland
Young people from around the world made their voice heard today at the UN Framework Convention on Climate change in Poznan, Poland. After an inspiring speech from Al Gore, over 200 young people from India to the U.S. to the Congo held a spontaneous action inside, with banners that read “SURVIVAL IS NON-NEGOTIABLE.”
The demonstration was the next step in our “project survival” - inspired by a speech earlier this week by a representative from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), stating that current emissions targets set by powerful countries condemn their nations to extinction. In the last two days youth have mobilized to get over 80 country delegations to sign a pledge to “safeguard the survival of all peoples and nations.” Youth organized actions, tracked down delegates in the halls, lined the entrance to the plenaries, and knocked on meeting room doors to push their countries to sign the Survival Pledge. This morning our text has been adopted in the official UN Ministerial declaration document emerging from COP14, the COP President’s text on long-term vision. Heads of state referenced our call in major speeches. “It’s been an amazing success,” said Amanda McKenzie, of the Australian Youth Climate Network. “Hearing Australia’s Climate Minister Penny Wong commit to ’survival’ yesterday had me cheering in the halls. Now, it’s time to make sure she delivers.”
Actions like the one that happened 15 minutes ago aim to create the pressure to do just that. At the end of our action (after engaging with some angry UN people) several delegates and dignitaries came to thank the Youth for their action. A woman said “I am in a very high position in my government in Norway. Youth doing actions like this makes my work easier. Thank you.”
We’ve had an exciting victory, but we know we must continue to organize to make the implications of that statement meaningful - we know that any targets less than 350ppm will not insure the survival of all peoples and nations, and we know that any solution that is not equitable and just, is no solution at all.
Click below for more photos and reflections.
Continue reading ‘SURVIVAL IS NON-NEGOTIABLE’
BREAKING: International Youth Gather in the Main Hall and Chant "YES WE CAN" & "SURVIVAL IS NOT NEGOTIABLE" as delegates & others leave Gore's Speech
By the time you all read this you are waking up in America, we will be wrapping things up here in Poznan. These two weeks have really flown by, and trust me, a conference like this is the only thing that could make anything fly by during Polish winters. We've had 4 sunny days, lots of fog, drizzle, and rain...sunset at 4PM.
Gore spoke today around 1PM. He was optimistic, but serious in tone. Recognized China as a new leader in the efforts to combat climate change. Particularly referring to China's 600 Billion dollar climate package and the largest reforestation/tree planting efforts in the history of mankind. I honestly can't say how I felt about Gore's speech today. I guess I've just heard so many voices in this movement that need to be heard (many are youth voices). He did mention successful efforts in stopping the construction of new coal plants in the US, and the 800 or so local communities that had independently signed Kyoto. The coal comment in particularly got US youth fired up, particularly after the huge victory against the financing of mountain-top coal mining we saw earlier this week.
Right after Gore's speech the youth created a flash mob of about 100 youth delegates. Unfurling banners with our messages and allowing some of our most gifted speakers say a few words. Tons of press, chanted those things that were mentioned in the title of the post.
The only thing left today is a meeting with the US State Dept.'s #2 negotiator Daniel Reifsnyder. He's the one that chewed SustainUS out last year in Bali. He's known for getting emotional. Earlier this week someone innocently asked all the state dept folks during a briefing which ones of them would want a job in the Obama administration. Reifsnyder responded by saying something like, "sorry to be emotional about this, but some of us have been here a long time (career people), and we are just hear to serve the administrations that are elected by the people." The interesting part about the meeting is that Mr. Reifsnyder is definitely in the running for top negotiator in the Obama administration. When I asked the state dept officials the other night, I started by thanking them for their service to our country (even though some of them are all Bush). Anyway, it should be an interesting meeting tonight...
Look for some HUGE wrap up posts, with some special commentary and thank you's!!!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
BREAKING: Over 50 Countries Sign-on to Youth Statement on Survival & Possible Meetings with Gore and Kerry Tomorrow
4 environmental ministers mention our statement in speeches, including Australia.
Paper Placards that say survival with our statement were distributed with numerous countries placing their placards next to their official UN placards.
US Youth Meetings with Gore and Kerry being discussed with staff schedulers.
MAJOR YOUTH ACTION BEING PLANNED FOR TOMORROW!
...governments following the youth in Poznan
A postcard from Poznan to my son
The UN climate talks in Poland are at risk of faltering, with accusations from Green groups about Europe's failure to show the leadership it promised. BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin has been following climate politics for more than 20 years. Here is his postcard from Poznan, addressed to his 10-year-old son.
My Dear Son,
It's cold and sunny in Poznan - a handsome old place fortified by towering buildings with tiny slits for archers to rain arrows on the invaders. You'd like it.
I am sorry our parting was a bit of a scramble, with the computer refusing to print your evaporation homework. I think we should do that experiment again because we can't be sure no-one slopped the salt solution.
On Monday a bunch of young people shut Stansted Airport complaining that my generation had failed them.
I am writing this postcard for you to read when you're 50 in case things go badly and you are wondering why we let it happen.
There was a lot of uncertainty in the early days. We're still not exactly sure in 2008 how the clouds or oceans or forests or soils will react to us doubling CO2 in the atmosphere.
Nor are we sure whether or when we'll hit tipping points which throw the planet into runaway warming, like the melting of the Arctic permafrost.
And there are still some economists who think we shouldn't be spending money on this climate stuff when there are still millions without toilets and drinking water.
But a lot of the arguments are mainly resolved and they are getting boring.
I tried to persuade one of my editors to run a climate change piece in a top slot on the radio. His eyes rolled back in his head, he slumped on to the desk and he almost drowned in the froth of his cappuccino.
This year, people are getting annoyed with the Italian and Polish governments, as well as others from Eastern European states, who are making the EU wobble over its policies to cut emissions by at least 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels.
You may remember that the same governments have acknowledged that, in order to be confident of a stable climate, rich nations do need to go much further - they need to cut between 25% and 40%.
You'd probably ask me why I didn't keep reminding everyone that it's the wrong target we're aiming at.
That's fair point, but I would say in my defence that the public is confused enough anyway with all the numbers.
I realise that by the time you are 50, the planet might be showing you that this argument was a bit pathetic.
But one thing you really cannot underestimate is the difficulty of an effective global deal. The world has never had to deal with a problem like this - trying to sever the link between our wealth and the fossil fuels that have brought us that wealth.
Hard to swallow
The financial crisis has made it worse. Some of the delegates here are furious at seeing trillions being stuffed into the accounts of firms who borrowed too much, when these sums are out of the question for stabilising the climate.
Environmentalists are also upset to see US politicians supporting their big car firms who lobbied successfully against laws to make their engines more efficient. Polluter paid, not polluter pays.
But if America plunges into lasting recession, there will be no cash to invest in the sorts of clean technologies we need to bring us energy without the greenhouse gases. So these decisions really aren't easy.
Now I've just had a Polish ham breakfast with three experts on carbon trading. They are fretting about certified emissions reductions verified additional under the Marrakech Accords.
They are right to fret - the system is not working. But I can't make carbon trading sound interesting and important and their discussions are bogged down in detail too.
Some people here are optimistic about two things.
One is President-elect Obama who is set to throw cash at clean technologies and energy efficiency - but this will produce results much too late to meet the demands of the official scientists.
And there is a desperate and so far unfounded hope - that the Chinese might break the diplomatic superpower carbon stand-off, by making a unilateral offer on emissions that shames America into deep and sudden cuts.
I'm putting this card in an envelope to be read on your 50th birthday. I think it is a bit grim for a 10-year-old to cope with.
By the time you read this, I suspect you'll be taking the environment really seriously. Maybe.
Lots of love,
After I came in on the last bit of a meeting SustainUS members were having with a group of Senate staff I sat down with Andrew Wheeler, Senior Senate Environment and Public Works staff for Senator Inhofe.
We talked a little OU basketball, I was cordial, I said that while we disagree completely on climate policy Senator Inhofe has an incredible opportunity to develop the renewable energy tax incentives that will ensure the future of a clean energy economy.
The response was that Sen. Inhofe wants all options on the table, including coal and nuclear. Not surprisingly.
Then we talked about baby sea turtles...
All of us here and many of you all back home have very personal and emotional reasons about why you want a secure climate and clean energy future. Whether its a clean, safe, beautiful earth for your children/grandchildren or the ability to live in a house that produces more power than it uses. Most if not all of you reading this blog during my weeks here are people of privilege. We don't worry about putting food on the table, sleeping in a warm bed, or speaking out and living our lives how we please. It is for these reasons that we can even think about saving the polar bears. For many there is a very different reality.
The negative impacts of climate change could easily destroy entire societies; threatening the survival of millions of people. Many low-lying communities and small island nations could literally be washed away by rising sea levels. As Americans we are responsible for 30 percent of this destruction. We average 20 tons of carbon per person, per year. It will also come as no surprise that the least developed countries that will be most effected by the negative impacts of climate change have the least heard voice in the UNFCCC process here in Poznan (besides the youth delegation). In addition, the LDC's and Small Island Nations have proposed the most ambitious emissions reductions targets ever (350ppm, right now we're at 380ppm's but are expected to climb to 450ppm if we refuse to cut emissions, would result in a rise of over 2 degrees with SERIOUS and DEADLY environmental consequences). We've heard some countries here saying they are willing to except that.
The International Youth Delegation has been working diligently to ally with these countries and have come up with a plan for how we up the pressure on the way to Copenhagen. We are calling on all countries to sign a pledge stating they will safeguard the survival of all countries and peoples. You can sign it here:
How about the US? Well, yesterday I was given the opportunity by my colleagues in SustainUS to ask the State Dept. officials during their last NGO briefing here in Poznan. Yes, I was a little nervous but then I remembered that they don't actually represent the real domestic positions on climate and clean energy. Their response to my question: "We'll have to consult and get back to you." That's right, the people sent to Poznan to represent us looked me in the eye and said that United States would "have to consult" on whether or not we can safeguard the survival of all countries and peoples.
I guess you have to remember that it might as well be Bush and Cheney answering that question, but still we are the leaders of the free world, defenders of democracy, right? Particularly interesting to some of you is the work we've been doing with Indigenous Peoples and including the word "peoples" in our pledge to ensure that those living in countries that don't represent them are represented in talks here. In a shameful, disgusting move yesterday the US (again) deleted any specific reference to the "rights" of indigenous people in talks on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) based on what they said were not substantive but "legal" issues. As Americans and Oklahomans we should be ashamed of any continuing denial of rights for indigenous peoples and I am doing what I can with youth from all over the world to work against injustice against native peoples on an international level.
I am here as a youth. As a youth, I am a member of the largest group of stake-holders in our climate/clean energy future. People under 30 represent 40 percent of our world's population. We have a moral imperative that we're not afraid to act to show that if the developed nations are unable or unwilling to rise to the challenge here in Poznan and on the road to Copenhagen we will.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
1) Youth Leadership
Young people from all over are coming together in a way that governments haven't been able to, even after 16 years of negotiations. We are united around the shared vision the world so desperately needs. Our leaders must do the same.
a) Our future, my future is on a timer. We need to tackle this issue quickly, together, fairly. Take our example: we are five hundred youth from fifty different countries, representing the privileged and the disenfranchised, the global north and the global south. We come together, representing millions more back home. We come together as you, the negotiators need to.
b) Half of the world's population (48%) are under 30, making young people the largest constituency at these talks.
c) We are taking action in our own lives, independent of what government does.
2) Urgency of the problem
Some of us have been born into this debate, our time to act was longer. I ask you this, what are we still waiting for? Youth have been at these negotiations for sixteen years and we're beginning to wonder if you are capable to act at all.
Young people are still shocked by the lack of urgency our governments have in the face of this global problem. It is no longer a case of stopping climate change, now we are fighting for our survival and UN Official Delegates have the audacity to negotiate our collective future, while continuing to claim that they stand for equity and sustainability. We have one year left, one year, to strike a deal that will tackle this problem, and in so rebuilding our economy and society.
We are incredibly frustrated at the tangible complacency here. Delegates just accept global temperatures will inevitably pass 2 degrees. And this scares me.
I'm tired of coming here and telling you how urgent this is. We move you to tears, but still nothing moves forward.
We are not only the leaders of tomorrow, we're the leaders of today. We're taking action in our own lives, and we have tried to get youth representation on national delegations.
IN EMERGENCIES: We want to believe in this process but your actions or rather inactions are making it nearly impossible. But know this, young people are organized, we are building movements that transcend the boundaries you are using to divide us. FLAG
We want you to lead. if you won't, stand aside
3) Solutions/ opportunities
Top line messaging
This crisis is actually a chance to change our society for the better. We can create stronger communities, more comfortable homes, better transport networks, secure employment, and a fairer, more stable global economy.
a) Solutions exist, but where is the political will? You say that the problems are too complex, you say that we have too many boundaries of race, class, cultural differences to overcome, you say that we must compromise our future and our earth, in order pass a viable solution. We say that we can tackle this problem, it is not easy, but in doing so we are presented with incredible opportunities.
b) This is not a choice between being prosperous and being green. Development and economic stability are completely dependent on a stable climate. Supporting a strong, equitable treaty is the only position that makes economic sense.
c) Equity must be front and centre throughout this process. Anything that isn't equitable is not a solution. Morality and expediency demand that this treaty provide funding for mitigation and adaptation that is additional to, and not a substitute for existing aid commitments. An equitable deal is one that by taking care of the least of us, takes care of all of us.
Our specific policy asks
2. Dramatically increase adaptation funding through the UNFCCC (not the World Bank or IMF) and this must be in addition to existing aid commitments. Equity is key.
3. REDD must be first and foremost a mechanism for forest protection and climate stabilization, not off-setting and profit-generation for Annex-1 countries. It must guarantee the security of land and property rights of local and indigenous peoples.
* Proposed ask (approval is in-progress): Include at least one youth representative on every county's national delegation for all future negotiations
International Youth Delegation - http://youthclimate.org/
SustainUS Blog - http://sustainus.org/blog
Australian Youth Climate Coalition - http://www.aycc.org.au/?page_id=178
Canadian Youth Delegation - http://www.ourclimate.ca/joomla/
China Youth Climate Action Network - http://groups.takingitglobal.org/CYCAN?langrand=480979938
Japanese Youth Delegation - http://gathering.eco-2000.net/global/
ECO Singapore Delegation - http://unfcccecosingapore.wordpress.com/
Young people in Poznan, Poland are stepping into the empty shoes of our stalling government.
Young people from the United States have been engaging full force in the 14th Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Unfortunately, we can’t say the same of our government. Instead of waiting around for our government to change its tune on the international stage, we’ve decided to set up dozens upon dozens of meetings with countries across the globe, especially those countries whom our country has disrespected in the past. Even if our own government isn’t listening to some of the most affected stakeholders in this negotiation, we will. We’re hoping the next wave of U.S. engagement will follow our lead.
See our letter, which as already been getting very enthusiastic response from countries around the world.
U.S. youth letter to UNFCCC delegates
We’re here from Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, SustainUS, Rainforest Action Network, Energy Action Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network, 350.org
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Videos and Images from today's International Day of Climate Action: We march through the streets of Poznan!
Friday, December 5, 2008
[photo from poland by eric pollard. see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33006023@N06/ for more photos]
By John Sutter
The world is talking about climate change at a meeting in Poland, and a representative from Oklahoma is in on the discussions.
Eric Pollard, of Norman, is representing a youth advocacy group called SustainUS, at the climate talks in Ponzan, Poland, where countries from around the world are trying to hammer out an international agreement to follow the Kyoto Protocol.
The talks are seen as a primer to the United Nations' Climate Conference, which will be held in Copenhagen next year.
Pollard is blogging about the current discussions, which have involved some heated debate between industrialized countries and those in the developing world, since the richer countries aren't ready to commit to specific reductions of heat-trapping gases by 2020. A Wall Street Journal blog says the talks resemble "a Mexican standoff more than anything else."
Pollard took time out of the action to answer some of my questions by e-mail. Here are excerpts:
Concrete Buffalo: How are you involved in the climate talks?
I am in Poznan, Poland for the talks representing SustainUS, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of young people advancing sustainable development and youth empowerment in the United States. My responsibilities here at the conference with SustainUS include following plenary discussion on technology transfer (how developed countries share renewable energy technology with developing countries) and I sit on the International Youth Actions Team which is responsible for planning events, rallies, demonstrations and other forms of outreach.
CB: What is the atmosphere like?
... To an extent the talks are a bit subdued because most major negotiations regarding commitments to emissions reductions will be made next year in Copenhagen and it is becoming clear that the official US delegation will not move away from the Bush Administrations' international climate policies from the last 8 years and Obama nor any of his transition team is either here or working with . However, the International Youth Delegation, including SustainUS and other US delegations, believe that needed action on the climate is urgent and that major progress at COP 14 must be made in order to come to an agreement next year.
CB: What role does Oklahoma have at a conference like this?
Oklahoma could play a huge role in the domestic advancement of action on climate change through renewable energy policy and infrastructure development in the US ... In the past, Senator James Inhofe has sent aides to UN Climate talks. Typically, his staff has spent most of their time at the conferences consulting with various buisness lobbyists, specifically those from oil and natural gas and coal interests. This just shows that Sen. Inhofe is commited to stopping any major progress both domestically and internationally not only on climate change mitigation but the development of the various renewable energy industries that will create millions of green jobs, save our economy, and our planet.
Here's the letter:
A MEETING REQUEST FROM US YOUTH TO DELEGATES
As young people from the United States, we are deeply disturbed by the state of the negotiations. We are ashamed and outraged by our country's disproportionate contribution to climate change, and our government's neglect in addressing it both domestically and internationally. We are writing today in efforts to begin the process of addressing that neglect.
We believe there is hope on the horizon. Americans from all walks of life are taking action on this issue to bring us towards just and equitable solutions to the global climate crisis.
We understand that this shift is long overdue and we stand in solidarity with people that have felt the brunt of our country's irresponsibility. We believe that the voices that have been marginalized in these climate negotiations are in a unique position to lead the world in solving the climate crisis in a truly just and sustainable way.
Throughout the next year and beyond, we will fight until our country takes strong action at home, and positively re-engages in the international process; in that spirit, while in Poznan, we humbly request a meeting with you to establish constructive dialogue with representatives of the U.S. that has been lacking for so long. We want to hear your stories and thoughts how the U.S. should re-engage in the process.
If you are interested in arranging such a meeting, please send a suggested time and date to USYouthInPoznan@gmail.com.
We look forward to meeting with you.
Ambassadors of change
The US youth delegation
BREAKING NEWS FROM THE UNFCCC CLIMATE NEGOTIATIONS IN POZNAN, POLAND
DECEMBER 6, 2008..
The consensus is clear at the UN climate meetings in Poland…not only is the U.S. State Department delegation a lame duck at this year's climate negotiations, they're a dead duck. For the past 8 years, the United States has refused to take leadership on a binding treaty and continues to claim that there is not enough domestic support for a bold and binding international climate agreement.
But we know better. The U.S. State Department delegation is not representing us. Last month, we Power Voted in record numbers for a new president who will take strong action on climate change and re-engage with the international community.
U.S. youth delegates from SustainUS, 350.org, EJCC, Greenpeace,and RAN have decided to assume the role the United States has so far failed to fulfill: engaging with the international community.
We are requesting meetings with delegations from a number of different countries, with a focus on developing nations that have been put at risk by the reckless action of the U.S. and other developed countries. The U.S. youth delegation believes that meeting with these countries and standing in solidarity with their vision is a true reflection of the voice of the American youth on climate change. Please support us in these meetings, by participating in a photo petition to be displayed at our meetings with international climate delegations.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Join the massive photo petition that will let international delegations know that the U.S. youth will be pressuring President-elect Obama and Congress for climate action NOW! In the next 24 hours:
1) Grab a camera your friends and family (or just yourself)
2) Make a sign that says "bold, equitable, binding, and science-based" to reflect the type of climate agreement you are ready for.
3) Feel free to draw a globe (or hold one) or do something that will give your picture an international vibe.
4) Send your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
5) Get ready for a huge year in the run-up to Copenhagen!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
This blog post is crosslisted on sustainus.org/blog. check out blogging updates from all of the SustainUS crew throughout COP-14
Tonight at COP-14 the International Youth Delegation will have its first official UNFCC side event. The event will be used to highlight some actions international youth are taking at home. So in the spirit of that I'd like to talk about how where I'm from has much to do about why I'm in Poznan.
On my first conference call with SustainUS, I was pretty intimidated by the international experience and incredible work of my fellow Agents of Change in SustainUS, especially considering this is my first time out of the states. This is only to highlight how world-class my fellow organizers are and how global their reach.
I'm from Oklahoma. Which as of November 4th, is the reddest, most conservative state in the US (take that Utah!). It's the home of Senator James Inhofe who has called climate change “the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people” and has likened a re energized environmental movement to the Third Reich. Like other areas in the US, organizing in Oklahoma at times feels like a very lonely island.
But its also home to one of the only (if not THE only, correct me if I'm wrong) successful US campaigns to stop a nuclear power plant (Blackfoot Nuclear Power Plant outside Inola, OK) and a recent successful campaign to stop a coal-fired power plant that resulted in a decision by a big Oklahoma electricity provider to quadruple their wind development in the state. It boasts a food co-op that has become a national model and a sustainability network involving communities from over 10 of Oklahoma's largest communities (founded by Emily McCauley former leader in the Sierra Student Coalition).
Building a youth movement and network in Oklahoma is underway. In November, over 40 high school students gathered for ReEnergize Oklahoma to start this process. In addition, planning is underway for major lobbying efforts during the legislative session. An energetic and inspiring base of students is leading the charge.
The hope, energy, positive actions and solidarity that can be found in Oklahoma and other incredible local, state, regional and national networks is with us here in Poznan. I realize how much of an opportunity it is to be here and I feel responsible to all of the amazing people I've met through organizing to represent a re energized America at COP-14. SustianUS is working diligently to ensure that the actual US domestic position on climate change and clean energy is felt by the world in Poland, not a dead-duck administration's.
The election in November showed the power of youth in America and our ability to create real change. Know that your US youth delegation is here in Poznan working proudly and tirelessly to represent your efforts to create a just, equitable, and sustainable world to this beautiful global community. Thanks for this opportunity!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Old Square where we had the strategy meeting over beer and pizza
some shots of the hostel the SustainUS delegation is staying at
the actions working group
The International youth delegation started off with an action on day 2 that included flags from all 50 countries we have delegates from. The group was loud and positive. check it!
I wanted to note that I wont be posting that many photos on the blog itself, but that every single picture I've taken in Poland can be found at this website:
On Day 2 the SustainUS delegation really started thinking strategically about how we can make the biggest impact in terms of our countries' international climate action. As most of you have heard from the past couple of days our official US delegation still represents the policies of the Bush Administration and will do very little here in Poznan.
This could be a really good thing because if they were doing a lot it would be probably be to stall talks and delay significant action. One of our strategic goals here in Poland is to marginalize our official delegation and to portray them as irrelevant, lame duck, or even dead duck. Most of this will be done by ignoring them completely, although we have requested to meet with them as a delegation because Obama may keep on some of them on, so far they have declined the offer. This may be happening due to a little incident with the US official delegation from last year. You can see a awkward exchange here:
A really incredible story out of last years COP in Bali - the official Canadian delegation wouldn't meet with the Canadian youth delegation after repeated requests. Some photos were taken of the youth upset, tearing up, etc that were published in a number of news sources in Canada. The result was a 7 percent drop in approval ratings for the Stephen Harper administration.
Anyway, last night I was privileged to meet with leaders from other US youth delegations here in Poznan including, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, 350.org, and Fired Up Media over a beer and pizza in Poznan's Old Square. We were discussing our strategy in approaching the US delegation, and how we as US youth move forward with Obama. We think we came up with a pretty sweet idea. The idea is to not wait for Obama's promise to re-engage with the world on climate change but to act now by reaching out to other countries and by emphasizing Obama's call to service.
Meeting requests will be sent to every country represented here in Poznan to discuss with US youth the exciting climate progress opportunities that will come with an Obama administration. Special emphasis will be placed on meeting requests with India and China. We have been in talks with youth delegations from those countries to join us in those meetings. We hope the result will be great press both internationally and at home. We cannot leave Poznan without the world knowing that the growing domestic demand for a clean energy economy and green jobs paired and an Obama administration waiting and willing to take action will change the face of US climate policy. We're basically acting as the REAL US delegates while our "official" delegates sink into dead duck oblivion.
Anyway, heading into a plenery where we'll be hearing from countries on emissions reductions targets for Annex 1 (industrialized countries)
Another note: I appreciate many of you contacting me while I'm in Poland and hope to hear from more of you, but in addition I would love to answer your questions on the blog or if you want to hear about any specific part of my experience here in Poznan. Let me know!
Check back soon for a Day 3 post, hopefully with VIDEO!!!
Monday, December 1, 2008
We've just ended our first day here at COP 14 in Poznan, Poland. The youth delegation not only from SustainUS, but other youth from the US and around the world are amping up efforts to pressure our officials to action.
Our COY action working group is going full force and we're ready to be a visible force in the halls of the conference.
Also, I attended the "official" US delegation press conference to listen to them not say anything important and then commit to doing very little to work towards progress at COP 14. In addition, there is speculation they will be teaming up with Japan to break up developing countries and impede significant action. We're now strategizing with Japanese youth to see how we can prevent this. Last time Japan teamed up with the US in Bali, an NGO published an ad in a newspaper that had a photo of the Prime Minister of Japan with President Bush on the Titanic. Apparently, when the Prime Minister saw this he openly wept in front of his aides and told them to do whatever it took to reverse their path.
CAN (Climate Action Network) gives out an award everyday to the delegation that has done the most to stop progress at the cop. Today's winner was Poland, I thought this was a little harsh being the host country and all, but apparently they've led efforts to block climate action within the EU.
Here's some other info in a VIDEO!!!!!
So after getting in bed around 5AM Poznan time, I got right back out at 8 to head to COY (Conference of Youth). The COY is made up of student delegates from 50 countries! COY has various working groups including policy, media, and actions. I'll be involved in COY's action working group in addition to my duties with SustainUS. After a few sessions I realized I was in the midst of world-class organizers. We had some intense sessions, which makes since because of the high stakes in Poznan and the various hopes for the conference from all the delegations. Overall, it was beyond unbelievable to be organizing and networking with international organizers!
Check back soon for an update from DAY 1 of the conference!!! The stakes are high, the future of the climate and our futures is in the balance. But I know that my fellow SustainUS and other international agents of change are ready for this challenge.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thank you for taking an active stake in my journey to represent our state, our nation, and most importantly you and the sustainable future we all want to see for this world. We are now officially a week away from the beginning of this trip. The Poland Conference and the delegates attending were recently acknowledged by our President-elect Barack Obama who said,
"Few challenges facing America -- and the world -- are more urgent than combating climate change," he said. "Many of you are working to confront this challenge....but too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office."
"Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather in Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet," he said. "While I won’t be President at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one President at a time, I’ve asked Members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there." check out the video here:
"The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will be represented
next month at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan,
Poland. I am sending my top Committee staff, who will act as my
representatives in meetings with international leaders as they prepare
for a new global agreement to address greenhouse gas emissions, which
will be completed in 2009 in Denmark. In addition, Senator Klobuchar
will be attending and plans to report back to President-elect Obama
and to our Committee. Other Senators from the Committee may join her."
I will also most likely be joined in spirit by our Senator James Inhofe, who sends an aide to every international climate meeting. His name is also Eric. Frankly though, I think its about time Oklahoma is represented by another Oklahoman (me) who will carry with me to Poland not only your hopes for a clean energy economy and sustainable future, but the hopes and dreams of so many Oklahomans working together as a movement on this the most important issue of my generation and generations to come.
SustainUS is getting geared up and is in contact with youth delegations coming from countries around the globe. That's actually why I'm leaving the day after Thanksgiving. All of the international youth will be meeting the weekend before the conference starts to strategize and come up with our best tactics for getting the attention of the official government delegations. Youth delegations have (by tradition) always put on elaborate displays, rallies, etc during the meetings. For instance, youth delegations are the founders of the now traditional "Fossil of the Day Award" that is given to the country that is creating road blocks during deliberations.
Check out part of SustainUS' packing list:
inflatable baby pool
cardboard Obama cutout
Most likely, this will be my last post state-side! Thanks again for all of your support and keep looking for updates!