Kowan O'Keefe: Youth Day
At COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, each day has a theme. Today was Youth & Future Generations Day. There were all kinds of events geared towards the younger attendees at the conference. It was a great opportunity to meet other young people from around the world, including Austria, New Zealand, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, China, Argentina, and Belgium, just to name a few.
I remember when I was at COP 20, there wasn’t much of a sense of urgency to act, even though it was critical to agree to a roadmap for COP 21 in Paris. And while I was not at COP 21, from the impressions I obtained from the media and attendees, everyone saw a sense of urgency to craft a revolutionary deal that had never been seen before. At COP 22 in Marrakech, just like at Lima, I sense that there doesn’t seem be that same sense of urgency.
Due to the fact that the Paris Agreement was adopted at COP 21 last year, this was supposed to be the “COP of Action.” Travelling through Marrakech to the conference, I’ve seen numerous United Nations signs that simply say “ACT” in 6 different languages. But, here at COP 22, it seems to be all talk, and it’s looking as if the nations of the world are reverting back to the pre-Paris status quo business-as-usual approach. Without a doubt, the results of the US election have been felt even here at COP 22. However, we cannot let that stop the youth and future generations of the world from speaking up about climate change and demanding bold action from our leaders.
Youth engagement in climate change negotiations is critical and many youth groups today exemplified this point. Most of the negotiators making the decisions about the future of our planet are 40-50 years older than today’s younger generations. As a result of this, they will not see the worst effects of climate change and don’t have the motivation that we do to enact any change. As the youth of today, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and watch. Our collective passion, frustration, ideas, and dreams need to be heard at the highest level!
10/11/2016 08:55:40 pm
Well said Kowan
15/11/2016 07:57:39 am
I agree that younger generations need to take action on this topic. Even though we are the younger generation with those older than us making the choices for us there still needs to be more education plans of action started at a younger age. It wasn't until college I had even heard about this conference or even how critical the climate change as well as CO2 is in the environment. If more pressure is put on the US I believe there will be a push to change government opinions favoring lowering carbon emissions no matter what the president's opinion is.
I'm saddened to hear that the sense of urgency felt by everyone at COP 21 in Paris isn't there anymore, although I understand that the results of the US election are somewhat disheartening. The leaders of today cannot become complacent and let the systemic problems continue to go on unchallenged. But I believe that the theme of youth and future generations is exactly what is needed. The issue of climate change isn't going away, and increased awareness amongst youth is the best thing that can be done to unsure society doesn't turn a blind eye to the universal issue of climate change. You're exactly right Kowan, we can't just sit on the sidelines and watch. We need to take our passion, frustration, ideas, and dreams and put them to use to fight climate change on a global scale.
17/11/2016 12:22:41 pm
I agree that the results of the US election are very disheartening but it is also a shame to hear that the sense of urgency on these issues has disappeared. I hope that the younger generation will be the change this world needs because as it stands today, the climate is a huge issue that can't be ignored, regardless of who's president.
17/11/2016 03:49:18 pm
Was there any discussion at the COP about initiatives of climate change studies being applied to elementary, junior high, and high school curriculum? I think it would be beneficial to start teaching about climate change at elementary school levels beyond just the typical Earth Day celebrations.
20/11/2016 03:48:38 pm
It is nice that the conference notices all the youth that attend these and have a youth day. I hope all youth see that they are the future for a change and they need to take action as well. However, it is very disappointing that there is no more sense of urgency. The US election I can see as a new issue because the Paris Agreement needs big power countries like the US to get the smaller countries to join. Hopefully the president will see things differently and start supporting groups like this that are trying to stop/slow down global warming.
29/11/2016 05:11:28 am
I am glad to hear about how fossil fuels are falling out of favor and jobs in environmental fields are expanding more than coal jobs. Hopefully more schools and companies will get involved. There is really little reason for anyone to still be focusing on fossil fuels.
30/11/2016 01:36:12 pm
It frightens me to see that there isn't much push for us to make things happen and really get the ball rolling. Time is of the essence the longer we wait the worse off we are. I hope we can unite and really get things going because it is not a question, we know what we need to do.
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