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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

COP15 Week 2: Emotions running high!

Guest Post by Lindsey Berger, FTN COP15 Delegation Team Leader

"Ten billion dollars will neither buy food nor coffins.”
-Lumumba Di-Aping, Sudanese chairman of the G77

It's week two, and a certain level of intensity has coated the city joining the fog- this is what we've been preparing for. Last week we focused our efforts on identifying the role that the U.S. would play at COP15. The results are in- we have overwhelmingly found efforts to be sub-par. There are two critical areas where increased commitments are crucial to human survival:

1. Immediate emission reductions
2. Financial aid for vulnerable nations.

Based on recent meetings between US youth and our leading climate negotiators, we are able to say (sadly) that there is about a 0.01% chance of increasing our existing mitigation targets, which stand at a whopping 4% cut in 1990 emissions by 2020. However, IF (and only if) we show the Administration that the American people support the financial "bail out" of our island and African nations, then maybe Obama would be willing to put more than a lousy $10 billion/year for three years on the table at COP15.

As young people (many of us without steady income), it may be difficult to reason that $30 billion is not sufficient aid; with that in mind, let me share something that I heard on Friday from Sudanese chairman of the G77 Lumumba Di-Aping: "Ten billion dollars will neither buy food nor coffins [for the African people most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change]." After noting this, let's think of our most recent MASSIVE government generated funding: the wars, and my personal favorite- the $3 trillion bailout of US banks and bankers! I would like to think that the government would assist in bailing out our nearly doomed developing nations, as well as our future, if it can muster up the finances to secure the safety of bankers.

According to Jonathon Pershing, secondary negotiator for the US at COP15, this sort of financial commitment will only be considered if overwhelming American support is displayed. Pershing clarified that he wants the same strong, science-based climate treaty that our youth delegates are calling for, but our numbers are not enough. We simply have not expanded or diversified our movement enough. Let’s be honest… he’s got a point. In order to ensure the survival of our dear friends in these troubled nations, as well as our children's future, we must begin turning out larger numbers in our movement. We need our parents and our friends from high school who we’ve lost touch with. We need our faith groups, local community members, and business leaders. WE HAVE TO SING TO MORE THAN THE CHOIR!

More than anything, I hoped that I could leave Copenhagen carrying news of a strong-binding climate treaty, but I’m afraid this will not be the reality. As we leave an exciting, yet most likely disappointing, two weeks in Copenhagen, we will have to remember that our generation is not only facing humanity’s greatest challenge, but also its greatest opportunity.

Instead of a strong international framework, I will return home with a mandate from international activists. Our domestic youth movement must do whatever it takes to ensure the action that our international brothers and sisters so desperately need for survival and future prosperity.

Here are a few words to live by (that you will certainly be hearing more about). They represent what our response to this international call to action must be: YES WE CAN. YES WE MUST. YES WE WILL.

The US youth movement must return home with a commitment to expand and diversify our ranks and tactics. The entire world is depending on us…

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