this was it…
And so, after 8 days of wondering what were we doing there, the International Youth Delegation finally came up with ‘Project Survival’. This was a pledge that countries and people could sign up to saying:
“I, the undersigned commit to a global climate treaty that safeguards the survival of all countries and peoples”
The ‘peopleS’ being the important part, as over the last 2 weeks we had just seen America, Canada and Australia sign away the lives of the 160, 000 plus indigenous people living in forests.
Peoples and countries is where it’s at.
The Alliance Of Small Island States (AOSIS) signed on straight away following our new working relationship with it’s negotiators, which unlike western countries, tended to be actual environment ministers, or in some cases presidents of an island would you believe it?!
In two and a half days, and with a lot of work from a small number of IYD’s people, over 80 countries had signed on; including countries like China and Poland! It was huge, it was magnificent, and it meant that we now have something to hold these countries to over the coming year. If they announce weak targets, we can say, well I’m afraid they’re just not good enough to ensure the survival of all countries and all peoples.
How can we say that? Well, the science clearly shows that if we go above 2 degrees temperature rise, dire things will start to happen. 2 degrees we will kick start a series of positive feedback systems, such as increased sea ice melt, which in turn raises the sea levels, and further increases the temperature because there is less white ice reflecting the sun’s rays, etc etc, it is endless, and also unpredictable-basically we don’t want to even go there. So, to stay below 2 degrees Celsius we need to be reducing our carbon dioxide emissions to 350 parts per million equivalent at the MOST; we are currently on 388 ppm, and if we hit 450 ppm there is a 78% chance that we will exceed 2 degrees temperature rise. This is big news. And it was a main focus at this COP for a lot of Non Governmental Organisations, and most of the youth, including the group from the American organisation www.350.org, check it out, it’s a fantastically simple organisation with one goal: 350ppm. So, this is how we can tell if targets and treaties are stringent enough to preserve all countries and peoples; because they show whether a country is likely to contribute to 350ppm of 450ppm (the government line at the moment.)
The other, less obvious aim of Project Survival, was to get as many of the signed on countries as possible to say the pledge, or a form of, in the ministers closing speech. Once something has been said a certain number of times it gets written into the COP Presidents summary of the Ministerial Discussions. And it did:
5. The right to development – to sustainable development – also presents an opportunity to
transform the global economy, decoupling economic growth from emissions growth, strengthening climate resilience, diversifying economies and reducing vulnerability. Participants at the round table expressed the need for international solidarity in embarking on a low emissions path that safeguards the
developmental aspirations and survival of the most vulnerable countries and
people. Action needs to be taken to ensure that countries lacking sufficient capacity to respond to the challenges of climate
change have access to opportunities to acquire this capacity in a timely manner.
We watched, all international youth crammed in round the edges of the main plenary hall, and listened with baited breath as minister after minister announced crappy targets and promises. Every time a plucky minister stood up and said anything about survival, and negligence on the negotiators part, we all stood up and cheered and clapped as loud as possible-better than any kind of direct action was the sound of youth applauding the right words, where there would otherwise be an empty accusatory silence from the other 191 countries represented in that room. We slept in the hall, we ate in the hall, we gave up all pretence at caring what delegates and negotiators though of us, we just wanted the right thing to be done, and the truth to be listened too. I distinctly remember an AOSIS representative getting up and doing his speech to the plenary hall, he calmly but forcefully questioned the ability of negotiators to negotiate when we had gone backwards; how could they just sit their saying nothing and doing even less, when his country was GOING UNDER WATER? They are literally dyeing from climate change and all YOU do is sit here and defend your business interests he said. Faced with this, apparently unaffecting plea for reason, many developed countries negotiators just walked out. that’s right, just walked out. I could not believe it. Could they be hearing what I was hearing? What I was hearing was making me sob! And yet, yes, they still walked out without a trace of guilt even.
And so, with a trembly lip I walked out of Al Gore’s speech one of the plenary halls, to this: