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Yofuge day

December 3, 2010

It was Yofuge (Young and Future Generations) Day yesterday and youths mobilized together for actions, with the concern for our futures. We were labelled “blue folks” by a member of the audience as we were wearing a blue shirt with the multiple faces signifying the many generations to come that climate change will affect the most, with a quote from Christiana Ora- a youth delegate from Solomon Islands- which says “You have been negotiating my whole life, you cannot tell me you need more time.”

We had a market action where youths started to sell items precious to their homelands, to convey the message that the environment is priceless and we should stop placing a monetary value on the environment and continue to pursue economic growth at all cost.

 

Hilary Bowman, a representative from YOUNGO, emphasized that although it was hard to shake the feeling while watching our futures being thrown away at Copenhagen last year, the youths have moved past the failure and desire strongly a post-2012 agreement. Also, she sent a strong message that the youths still have faith in the process and “will do everything and anything we can because it is our future.”

IPCC vice-chair talked about the power of youths. He said that we do not just need the planet, the planet needs us as well, and called upon us to come with fresh ideas and concerns. He also emphasized the importance of education and cited Greg Cravens, a teacher who conducts debates in class such that climate change as an issue can be engaged with. 

Finally came the long-awaited speech by Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC  executive secretary. Her speech inspired, and encouraged in the midst of the drudgery of the negotiating process day 4. She assured that governments are increasingly aware of the growing environmental and political urgency and that the negotiations are constructive and on their way.

Still, she did not downplay the severity of the issue. In fact she compared it to the Industrial Revolution, which was the last major revolution in her view stating that reaching a legally binding agreement remains a heavy lift. However unlike the Industrial Revolution, this revolution that we need to ignite is structured and not of an opportunistic nature. It however is just as profound since it encompasses the social sphere and the behavioural concerns. Climate change, requires a complete revolution and it cannot be opportunistic.

She urges youths to not wait. Being masters of the social network, she calls upon us to utilize technologies to usher in energy revolutions. Envisioning at the end, of a future where energy inefficient lightbulbs are phased out and whereby our kids do not recognize such inefficient technologies, she commanded us not to lose hope, choking back tears while gesticulating passionately.

While passionate about the environmental cause, Christiana Figueres is astute as well. When questioned by a youth on the way to balance idealism and political pragmatism, she replied that both can coexist. She clarified that when she urged us to be patient earlier in her speech ,what she meant was for us to understand that a step by step process is necessary. A step by step process need not compromise idealism, an idea which she fleshed out through an analogy. As a mother herself, she has high expectations for her children, yet she is still patient with them, guiding them in the process. She emphasized that she is not asking us to lower our ambitions but to understand.

A member of the audience also requested an answer to a proposition of youths organizing themselves to infiltrate (for the lack of a better word) global and local institutions to change existing structures to which Hilary Bowman agreed. She gave the example of the Great Power Race whereby youths are already creating change within their campuses.

Another youth suggested that zero emissions be included in the negotiating process because scientific findings call for it. Christiana Figueres agreed and said that such an aspiration requires imagination, which us youths do not lack. She ended off with the comparison she drew at the star- the Industrial Revolution. Like during the Industrial Revolution (ironically, the one which started all of this), from horses and hay to cars, we have a compelling opportunity to seize, a revolution to re-energize.

In the evening, YOUNGO bused down to Klimaforum for a night partyyyy. With a vegetarian dinner and simple interaction through dancing, it was indeed a lovely night.

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