Written by Yiting Wang, a member of China Youth COP15 team
Yes things did not turn out to be as fair, ambitious and binding as we all hoped for upon the conclusion of COP 15. Yet in many lights, it was inspiring, constructive and everlasting. I want to share several little a few serendipitous moments when I was struck by what I said, what I heard, what I was part of and what I think it now.
In the wake of Wednesday 16th riot, the police had pushed back the crowd. I was walking toward Bella Center trying to get in, a guy with a little video camera stopped me and asked me to say a little something about what I think the solution [to our climate crisis] was. I replied, in gasps, that I think we need to put ourselves in each other’s shoes. We need to understand that we are one people in different forms;our lives connected. He asked me where I was from. I said China. He waved one of his hand whiling the other still holding the camera, “thanks for the Chinese wisdom.”
I don’t know if it is particularly Chinese. I just always remember a peacemaking guru who only sleeps for four hours everyday, once said that we are all one. I just cannot agree more.
Thursday, 17th. The banner says “change the system, not the climate.” It was in a warehouse that turned into a working station for people who can no longer enter Bella Center. Merkel was delivering a speech within Bella Center. Heads from the governments of the world was doing that one by one. I had no interest in listening. I thought they were all to symbolic and not constructive at all. I realize how hard it was to reach an agreement when at least a few of the big potatoes did not have the sincerity and bona fide; how hard it was to really change the system.
Tuesday 15th. Robert Swan giving a speech about his expeditions to both Poles. He was the first man to traverse both Arctic and Antarctic by foot. He is now taking young folks to visit an eco-base he set up in Antarctic each year. He ended the presentation with one quote from himself (pretty snobby I have to say): the greatest challenge to our climate crisis is that we think someone else will do the job.
Monday 14th. I was representing our team to discuss possible venues for youth from the States, India, Japan and China to get together to deliver a joint voice. It proved to be politically difficult as well. First, the Japanese counterparts did not show up. Second, the day after that most of us would not be able to get into Bella Center. Third, the Indians want to have the Indian and Chinese youth talking to Indian and Chinese delegates, in one room, pushing our government and stand closely by the island/African countries (to kill Kyoto or something more radical —which was strongly disapproved by both governments).
While sitting on the floor in the absence of wine, we ignored the first obstacle and went crazy with the second one. Reed the American guy proposed that we use radio transmitters to deliver youth voice inside from outside. He said he knew a friend in Copenhagen who invented the bike system (or something like that) who might have access to such devices. He admitted, very seriously, this idea was crazy but he can always do what he wanted to do without too much idea of how to do it. I proposed what I thought would be fun but less risky – having youth inside holding their computers in a circle, skypeing in with youth outside and saying what they want with both voices and images. We all agreed and thought hard of places outside where we had wireless. Later another Indian Friend Linkesh joined and showed us a song he just wrote about Bolivia and their brave commitment as a developing country. We all sang together in a circle:
/Every day their stalling and//they’re saying the same old things again//hm-hm-hm//But one bright country stands apart,//they’re sayin’ things close to my heart.//They’ve got a plan with hope in hand,//They’re sayin’ c’mon let’s just start…//Bolivia//, I wish I was Bolivian//Just one degree temperature rise,//300 ppm in the skies,//cent per-cent emissions down by two thousand forty//Does anyone know the price of waiting//fighting, hating, procrastinating,//hm-hm-hm//My future stands in front of me,// while people here make history,//I hope and pray that it will be,//what the world’s children wish to see…//Bolivia//…//We’ve got to take the boldest steps//there’s work to do; clean up the mess.//hm-hm-hm//My future looks me in the eye,//says to me the time is nigh//It’s time to see the world agree,//time for responsibility!//Bolivia//…/
We dismissed in the urgency of going to the US-China youth joint press release. There was almost no follow-up after that, except I invited the Indian friends to come to a dinner that was just meant for the Chinese team. I will talk about that in a second.
Thursday 16th. This dinner was just intended for the Chinese team and the Danish organization Energy Crossroads who gave us the chance to participate in COP 15.One team member had a very clever comment on this dinner, which in the end was joined by the Indians and Africans (sorry I had to use the general term, I did not know where in Africa they came from)—when the old generation used “Pingpong Diplomacy” to break the ice between China and the U.S. during the Cold War, we the younger ones used “Chinese food diplomacy.” I don’t think it was our intention to have any diplomacy. It was just a very natural gesture for us to invite friends from afar that happened to have chance to gather on the land of fairy tales. If, just a naive thought, everyone in this world could be as native as the the young ones, we probably would have maintained better harmony.
One thing I maintained after COP 15, however disillusioned it could be, is to stay ideal, stubbornly ideal, passionately ideal, naively ideal. With vision and intention, things can be done.
Yes the adults will always tell us “it is more complicated than you can understand.” We should be aware not to grow up with unnecessary sophistication that gets simple things complicated.