I was honored to speak today in the opening plenary session on behalf of the youth of the world, or the youth NGOs. Several NGO coalition groups get a chance to make an “intervention” as it’s called in UN-speak after each country is given a chance to make a brief statement, and I got to deliver the text created by the youth NGOs who are present here in Tianjin. I’m glad that young people get a chance to address the entire UNFCCC directly, even if it’s only for two minutes of the entire week-long meeting. It make sense if you think about it: not to be morbid, but the vast majority of the negotiators here today won’t be around in 2050, when we will see severe global impacts from climate change if we do nothing now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. In 2050, as I pointed out to the conference, I will be 62 years old. Those of us who often feel like we don’t have enough power to contribute here at the negotiations, and our children and grandchildren, will be the ones who experience the results of these negotiations. That’s why it’s so very important for our voices to be heard.
I’ve included the text of my intervention below, so you can get an idea of what the young people of the world are concerned about:
Thank you chair for giving the youth the floor. My name is Alexandra Stark, and I will be 62 years old in 2050.
I have a few questions for all of you gathered here:
What did you feel after the Copenhagen meeting?
Were you frustrated and disappointed? This is how many young people around the world felt.
Were you running short on hope? I ask because I asked these questions myself.
We went back home feeling puzzled and desperate. It seemed that perhaps everything we worked for had not resulted in anything–especially if everyone is simply pursuing their own interests.
But in fact, I was wrong! The global movement that came together for Cop15 is actually growing. More and more people are seeing climate impacts in their own countries and that is causing even more people to become involved. More and more organizations are making efforts; more and more individuals are participating. Youth are particularly active. This coming Sunday, we will take part in the global work party on the 10th day of the 10th month of the millennium’s 10th year. Just 6 days from now, we will take action alongside over 7,000 groups in 183 countries.
When I consider all that’s happening, I know we’re not defeated. Copenhagen’s disappointments have motivated us to keep going. We still must achieve our goals for an international agreement in line with what science and justice demand; but with a growing global movement we can do this.
Climate change action is no longer just the talk of some politicians, but more and more the missions and actions of every individual in the world. The youth are leading through our actions, and these talks must catch up. Thank you.
About the authorAlex Stark
Alex Stark joins the project from Washington DC, where she's focused on legislation addressing drivers of violent conflict around the world, including the effects of climate change. Tracking the US negotiators and getting the word out about action inside the UNFCCC combine her passions for activism, sustainable development, conflict prevention and US foreign policy.