That Friday feeling

Apologies for the late posting of this post, busy busy busy!

So, friday, we all went in kitted out in our blue  “How old will you be in 205o” t-shirts. Just like Bonn1 any t-shirts e had sold on the stand, we asked delegates and staff to wear. Unfortunately, unline Bonn1, come friday there was only 1 negotiator in a blue t-shirt, it seems the novelty has worn off! Anna had even given the 2 of the UK negotiators, Jan and Harry, t-shirts, they can’t have wanted them that much (as they said they did) because they weren’t wearing them either.

I arrived at the conference centre at about 8 am having slept/squatted in one of the meeting rooms of the youth hostel we were meant to have left! Alice and Jessie had scavved a bed together in a hostel lots of the other youth were staying at, having been up til 3 in the morning painting banners and posters for the next day.

And boy what a day it was! It started with the Global South action, which was an UNfair football match between the Global South and the Global North. There were only a few players on the South’s team, whilst the North’s team just kept being added too! The North formed a constant blockade at the South’s goal, and constantly called secret meetings, excluding the South from their huddles. Not only that, but then the referree (our UNFCCC rep) kept shouting out acronyms and confusing words. The Global South had lost before they’d even started.

rules of the game


Immediately afterwards The Avaaz Action Factory coordinated a faaaairly unique action involving camels……

growing deserts

weak targets

The message, as you might have grasped, was ‘Delay Kills’ , now is the time for speedy action, with strong targets that don’t increase the planets desert capacity. There were issues within the youth about why 2 camels needed to be transported all the way to Bonn, and then be giving delegates rides to the conference, plus the expense that goes with such an escapade. Despite this the action went ahead.

Then we moved inside to watch as many of the plenary sessions as possible.We have always tried to support the country delegations who quote the correct science, and spout the right targets, so as friday is the day of closing speeches, we thought it best to be there. We listened to some moving and slightly pleading closing speeches from Bolivian Indigenous people, AOSIS, Tuvalu and Costa Rica. But all this usual UN stuff was eclipsed by what we were about to attempt. Earlier on that day, before the closing of the LCA plenary at 1 o’clock, the 80 or so young people at Bonn decided something a little more rousing than t-shirts and camels needed to be done. Bonn 2 was coming to a close, we had not made nearly as much progress, by getting ourselves out there and talking, discussing, getting the delegates on our sides, as the young people who went to Bonn1 had. (Whether this was down to us and our organisation and activities, or more uncontrollably, the timetable and increasing feeling of haste within the process, which would manifest itself as less friendly and open delegates or not we shall never know.) So, time for action.

A young person called Caroline Howe, from the US, but living in India and heavily involved in Environmental Indian Youth action, came to Bonn with a rap. She performed it initially at the youth side event, and everyone liked it so much thanks to its powerful words and originality, that we decided to use it as our action for the last day. No one objected, it was suitably not business as usual, and no one had ever rapped in a plenary before……

we all walked in to the balcony above the plenary (for observers) in dribs and drabs so as not to raise suspicion. We distributed ourselves in and around on chairs, floor space and across the different levels, all prepared to converge when the moment came. Slowly, one by one, we made our way over to the edge of the balcony at one end, where it became clear we were congregating. The delegates below were watching us, and definitely expected somethingto happen, bet they didn’t imagine this though! We clapped AOSIS, we clapped Costa Rica, we remained silent for China, we clapped Bolivia. The Chairman closed the plenary with a short speech, furtive looks amongst us with blue tshirts were exchanged, excitement boiling over into twitchy hands, my eyes darting round the hall to locate security guards and media-both equally important! And then the clap of wood on wood was replaced with 4 measured claps from the balcony. Us. 4 stomps of the feet, and we launched into:

Survival’s at Stake
Survival’s at stake, *yeah yeah* Action we must take *yeah yeah*
Make it our mission *yeah yeah* to stop the emissions. *yeah yeah*
The truth of climate change is all too clear;
We feel the climate impacts, they’re already here.
We know these climate changes will impact our health,
Threaten food security, safety and wealth.
Floods mean more drowning, and droughts more starvation
Adaptation and mitigation offer salvation.
All these massive changes making climate refugees;
No government is ready for migrations like these.
Largest emissions come from the wealthy,
But can we afford to keep the world healthy?
Survival’s at stake, *yeah yeah* Action we must take *yeah yeah*
Make it our mission *yeah yeah* to stop the emissions. *yeah yeah*

And how about your Kyoto deal?
It didn’t solve the problems we hoped it would heal.
Can we do it in Copenhagen?
Only with true global collaboration.
When will you all wake up to the truth
Your choices today are impacting the youth.
You’re still playing games with your children’s earth
Look me in the eyes, say what my future’s worth

Survival’s at stake, *yeah yeah* Action we must take *yeah yeah*
Make it our mission *yeah yeah* to stop the emissions. *yeah yeah*

It’s not just up to you, it’s also up to me
But I know I can be the change I want to see.

You talk about economy, trying to be thrifty
But how old will you be in the year 2050

(video to come)

What an action such as this one does cannot be underestimated, and it’s something that never ceases to surprise me when executing other direct actions. And that’s the feeling of solidarity, the feeling you and your fellow doers have created a moment, a feeling, a frame in someone elses head -together. It’s like declaring your love for someone loud and proud by having a massively lavish wedding, it’s a way of getting your point across that demands all their attention for a short space of time; no compromises, no holes barred-this is what you think. It’s a very basic feeling, but it should never be overlooked, because frankly nothing beats it. You see there are only EVER going to be 20 people in the world who I can reach out to about rapping in a UN plenary hall at that particular time! Despite my initial self conscious comments of “I will never rap”, I did, and it was awesome, right afterwards you feel like you could do anything.

That night we were out til 4 in the morning, shedding our UN skins, becoming the young people it’s easy to forget you actually are, slept on the roof, good times-even better people.

the threesome



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