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YOUths: COP In or Out?

December 16, 2009

I took the train to Copenhagen. What you don’t hear about is how I took the plane from my home country to Brussels, then took Eurorail to Copenhagen.

It’s a routine every morning. I head straight for the Document Centre, and ask for the daily programme. I’m handed Part 1 & 2, 20 pages of printed words, held in place by staple bullets. I don’t really need it, considering I can access the programme online, or check it out on the LCD screens around Bella Centre. But it’s printed, it’s here, it’s free and makes life so much more convenient. Oh, plus it’s recycled.

I’m eating out of bamboo plates and using bio-degradable cutlery. But only at Bella Centre, because that’s what I’m provided with. You don’t see me clear my table into the carefully labelled recycling bins, or use non-disposable cutlery when I’m having my Turkish kebab for supper.

Out of the 2000 youths present at COP15 this year, I’m sure a sizeable number can identify with me. We’re not your regular tree-hugger. Instead, the closest we go is probably a single-line lament about deforestation in the Amazon basin. We see COP as a one-stop avenue for knowledge on environmental issues, as Facebook and LinkedIn brought to life. We like being green, and wear sustainable designer fashion, practice yoga every morning and eat vegan meals whenever hamburger cravings don’t strike. It’s also amazing being able to tell our friends that we’re going to Copenhagen for the UNF triple-C, because it’s the UN, and because we spent 15minutes of our life memorising what it stood for. And there’s also taking pictures at the podium after the UN guy has left, or with our country’s governmental delegation’s signage. You know, just to prove that we’ve entered Bella Centre.

And then the big question comes, “What will we bring home from Copenhagen?”


Memories of friends from small island states, whose homes may not exist in 5 years time. Information on how famous landscapes may disappear forever, and how urgent it is for us to take action against climate change. The knowledge that food and energy prices will rise, because of the lack of food security, and the heavy consumption of fuels. In the long-run, even holidays and shopping will cost more. The arctic will cease to exist, and coral reefs will be no more. Spring will come early, and diseases will be more rampant. We come to consensus about the apathetic youths back in our home countries, who have no inkling about what climate change is.

Then we realise, we were them once.

Climate change has a human face. It isn’t just about facts and figures, but rather, about how these numbers and information have an impact on people around the world. On people who are alive, and on those who’ve yet to live.

And I think, that is the message we should be bringing back from Copenhagen.

Disclaimer: The youths and the actions referenced to in this article are exaggerated, and purely fictional, and are in no way associated with any member of the ECO Singapore team, myself included.

Musings from COP15
ECO Singapore

One Comment leave one →
  1. terence permalink
    December 16, 2009 4:22 pm

    Great article, but the tone of postings have gone a tad darker. Keep the faith guys.. COP15 was never meant to end at 15. Sure, you can be frustrated by the lack of progress and get mad at the countless politicians who have vested interests to complicate matters. But since when can we ever depend on world leaders to get things done???

    “Throughout the course of history, all great movements have been born at the grassroots level. The American independence movement, the civil-rights movement and the women’s suffrage movement were all begun by people who did not wait for others.” -Arnold the Terminator

    Don’t leave Copenhagen emptyhanded. Come back with your message and a renewed fighting spirit. Our generation has to keep fighting this war, with or without the politicians.

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