Thursday, December 11, 2008

Survival: What's at stake in Poznan...and heartfelt goodbyes to Bush's Climate Officials

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.

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