In the International Conference Centre the negotiations dragged into overtime into Sunday morning. Many of the meetings were behind closed door, and the stunned looks on many of the people who wandered around the halls reflected the confusion about what was going on. We stayed until Sunday morning for the official outcome.
While Kyoto survived in the Durban Platform, it is held hostage by polluting nations and corporate interests. The world’s major emitters, Canada among them, refused to adopt new emissions targets resulting in a zombie Kyoto Protocol which covers only 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Green Climate Fund is an empty piggy bank with no decision on the sources of finances. Should those nations in desperate need of adaptation financing shatter it they will find only the promises of the richest, most polluting nations. Unfortunately you can’t buy clean water, arable land and food security with promises.
Over the last two weeks my emotions rocketed up and down, like the value of the Down Jones during a volatile week on Wall Street. There were times of intense sadness, when negotiators started talking about postponing a new climate change deal until 2015 or even 2020. There were flashes of anger, when we got into a confrontation with Canada’s lead climate negotiator to look us in the eye and tell us he was negotiating in good faith on behalf of our generation. There were moments of powerful pride, when I watched the six members so the Canadian Youth Delegation stand up in plenary, turning their backs to Peter Kent as he addressed the conference.
I felt proud and incredibly privileged to be part of the Canadian Youth Delegation. In two weeks we have achieved amazing things. We received international headlines! We were so successful in admonishing Canada’s record on climate change that Peter Kent wrote an op-ed in a Durban newspaper trying to justify his position.
Yet, the Canadian government continues to bargain on behalf of big oil. We need to make this movement massive. The support that has flooded in over the internet and the ovations from students in a Vancouver school we skyped in has motivated all of us and proven that people back in Canada care deeply. We have to bring this momentum back to Canada, and make this movement impossible to ignore.
I left Durban 24 hours ago. While not surprising, Canada’s Environment Minister’s latest announcement is an outstanding example of our government’s loyal service to the fossil fuel industry. Just hours after returning from Durban, Kent blamed financial cost for a Canadian pull-out from the Kyoto Protocol. The truth is that inaction will be the real cost, both to our economy and to the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities. Our generation has to stand by as our future is sacrificed in the name of short-term profit.
To those who are waiting for climate change to be disproven, I would say that the science only becomes stronger every day. I am a member of the Canadian Youth Delegation and everywhere I went, I was asked to explain the actions and positions of my government on climate change. I cannot. I apologize on behalf of my government, but apologies will not save this situation.
It is up to my generation. We have to make the voices heard over the rumble of money and corruption. Please, consider participating in, or organizing, other actions. Consider joining environmental organizations or getting involved in the political process.