This Tuesday, student activists from New England had an exciting opportunity to present our Declaration for Clean Energy to leadership and press at the UN Conference of the Parties in Cancun, Mexico.
The Declaration for Clean Energy is a five page document written by 170 members of Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), a New England based network of students who have united to fight climate change and work towards a just and stable future for all of humanity. At the press conference in Cancun, student delegates presented our declaration with a statement demanding legitimate action from policymakers on all levels of United States government to pass meaningful comprehensive legislation on climate, and insisting that global leaders agree to a legally binding treaty that will return our global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to a safe level of less than 350 parts per million.
As the international negotiations begin to wrap up, it is clear that they will not produce any real results. Powerful nations are refusing to hold themselves accountable, the seriousness of the science is still being ignored, and the voices of youth and disadvantaged communities are being shut out completely. Ethan Buckner, a student delegate from the Sierra Student Coalition who presented on our behalf, had his badge taken away and was removed from the negotiations shortly after our press conference simply for participating in a march alongside youth from the global south, indigenous people, and environmental justice communities who are already suffering from the effects from climate change. Simply put, International leaders are ignoring the voice of the people, and they think they can get away with it.
Well, we may not be able to change things in Cancun, but here in New England, we will not be discouraged. Members of SJSF are entirely aware that the decisions made by leaders now will determine the state of the world we will inherit. We are therefore unwilling to accept inaction, excuses, and easy outs, and have made clear in our press conference Tuesday that the youth voice is growing and will not be silenced.
“We are students. We are not full time politicians or paid organizers. We choose to make sacrifices for our future, because it is necessary, and because independent leadership is severely lacking in our country. We refuse to simply watch the world burn; we are getting to work, and we are calling on the international community to stop wasting time and do the same.” (Carra Cheslin, on behalf of SJSF at our UN COP press conference)
We are tired of watching time and again as our leaders do nothing, and we are not going to let them shut us out anymore. If they won’t listen to us now, then we simply must raise our collective voice so loud that they will have no choice but to be real leaders, and to give us the future we deserve.