Why Business Won’t Save The World

COP16 In Two Minutes

Explaining what happens at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties is difficult at the best of times. Journalists, Civil Society organisations and governments struggle to translate the technical language of international climate policy into understandable public information. Young people can help distill the essence of the negotiations – and sometimes into video form.

In this example, the UK Youth Climate Coalition have summarised the COP16 Cancun talks in this short clip. Surprisingly and depressingly accurate.

Excuse me, can you tell me how I can get to the Kyoto Protocol?

This is crossposted from the UKYCC blog and is written by Isobel Tarr.

Why are negotiators wandering around lost at the UNFCCC this year? Could it be because their activities are split between the Moon Palace hotel, which is 10km away from the centre for side-events and NGO booths, which is another 40km from Cancún itself?

Perhaps. At least, this certainly doesn’t help matters.

Or could it be because they’ve forgotten where they came from, and what they have to do to get to their destination? Or worse… maybe they’re not even sure what their destination is anymore?

We thought this might be part of the problem. Maybe there were people who’d ditched the roadmap along the way and thrown everyone else off course. So we thought we’d take a stab at re-writing it, and ask if anyone knew if our new version of the map could help us get where we needed to be.

How do you begin to write a roadmap on solving climate change through the UNFCCC process?

It depends who you ask. Everyone has a different idea of where they want to be at the end of it. Maybe that’s why no-one can agree on which direction to turn in; they’re all reading off different maps, and some of them are reading the map upside down. But if you ask the youth constituency for their destination, the answer is clear and unanimous: Survival.

Directions to Survival

The Road Map to Survival was written in Bali in 2007. It’s pretty clear that you needed to pass through the Kyoto Protocol to reach Survival. Its not as if Kyoto and Survival are the same place, but there doesn’t seem to be another way of reaching Survival yet.

Unfortunately the most direct route to Kyoto had been closed off at Copenhagen in 2009 by a barricade of self-interest. This unforeseen obstacle seemed to have disorientated our errant negotiators, now drifting through the Moon Palace Hotel in Cancún, tryiThe Survival Roadmapng not to be put off by Japan and Canada yelling at them from the lay-by; “Forget the map! Who needs Kyoto? Its gonna drain our fuel-tanks to get there, and fossil fuels are precious. Lets just go for a swim in Playa del Carmen and maybe bury our heads in the sand while we’re at it.” Bless them, no wonder they’re confused.

Some of us wanted to understand what it felt like to be lost on the way to Kyoto. So we decided to wander around the Moon Palace Hotel, with the Survival Road Map in hand, looking lost. Here is a trypical response:

Negotiator: Excuse me, you look lost, may I help you?

Me: Oh yes, thank you very much. I’m, uh…[looking in all directions, squinting at the map and turning it around]… trying to find the way to the Kyoto Protocol. I was definitely there once, and now I… I just can’t seem to get back again. See, I have this Road Map, but I’m having a few problems, erm, navigating it…

Negotiator: I see…

Me: So, it would seem I’m in Cancún…

Negotiator: Mmm-hmm…

Me:… I just came back from Copenhagen, which turned out to be a dead end. But I’ve been told, and please tell me if you think this is correct, that I’ll have to carry on past these loop-holes -sorry- pot-holes, err and then cross the bridge of trust…

Negotiator: Hmm… I think you have to get round a whole lot of gigatonnes before you can get to the bridge of trust…

Me… Ah, is that so?

Negotiator: Mmm-hmm.

Me: Well thats going to be tricky. But I’ve been told that there’s some members of civil society along this road who can point me in the right direction, and stop me going down Self-Interest Avenue, which looks like it goes the wrong way, towards Denial River-

Negotiator: Yes there are definitely some people who have got stuck down there.

Me: Thats a shame because it eventually leads to Doom, as you can see.

Negotiator: Ah, yes thats a problem.

Me: So what would you suggest I do?

Negotiator: Well, if I were you, I’d just keep going straight. Stick to the map. Go through Compromise here-

Me: Compromise?

Negotiator: Yes [pointing at map] you see Compromise is directly on the way to Kyoto and Survival.

Me: Ah so it is. Will you be going that way too?

Negotiator: Yes I think we will. It seems like the best way. It is the only way. It may take longer than we thought but it’s the only way.

Some negotiators were very helpful, and seemed to know exactly where to go. Some didn’t want to look at the Survival Road Map which they’d agreed to follow only 3 years ago. And some couldn’t even agree amongst themselves about where they were:

Negotiator I: I don’t think we’re in Cancún anymore, I think we’re here, just a little further along the highway.

Negotiator II: No! We are not there either! We are still in Tianjin! We are exactly where we were in November! This map is wrong!

Negotiator III: No, I think we’re still in Copenhagen. We never really came back from Copenhagen, we’re stuck there.

Negotiator IV: No. We are definitely in Cancún, and there’s nothing we can do about that. We just have to move faster along the map. Step by step we will get there.

Decision Time – UK Election & Climate Change

This is a guest article written by Shivani Kanodia of the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

The UK General Election will be held on May 6th, less than two weeks away. In the running are the incumbent Labour Party, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats – the party that gains the most seats, will shape Britain’s role in the global effort to solve the climate crisis. Commentators have termed the election outcome as ‘The Last Parliament’, as this group of elected representatives will take the country through to 2015, by when carbon emissions must have peaked.

Young people and activists around the country are working to focus candidates on clean energy, green jobs and climate change. Local hustings are putting parliamentary hopefuls on the spot, as the public ‘Ask the Climate Question‘. It is clear that the leadership in the three main parties understand the issues around sustainability and climate change, but real concerns remain as some local candidates reveal an extraordinary lack of scientific knowledge. A recent internet poll of prominent Conservative bloggers also brought into question the ability of the Tories to explain the benefits of climate action to their own supporters.

Gordon Brown (Labour), David Cameron (Conservative), Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat)

Continue reading ‘Decision Time – UK Election & Climate Change’

Bin Laden – How To Respond

Climategate was a well coordinated, strategic and devestating attack on the Copenhagen climate talks in December last year. With unprecedented moves from U.S. and China in the run-up, the world’s media and attention was hooked onto the alleged manipulation of data at the University of East Anglia. That stolen information framed the entire negotiations, and set it up for failure.

Today the prospect of a clean-energy economy faces a new threat.

Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States for climate change, according to a new audiotape released today. Right-wing media outlets including The Daily Telegraph, Drudge and Fox News, are already seizing on the al-Qaida leader’s comments. All this on the same day that the American administration formally announced it’s 2020 carbon targets, and a 39% increase in wind-power.

Those in the struggle for a clean-energy economy and safe climate future, should ask themselves why bin Laden would come out with this statement. This is the man who has shown no concern for human life, indeed revels in killing innocent people – why does he now care about rising sea-levels?

His plan is to drive the wedge between the climate cynics and climate activists even further, and it’s already working. This is the perfect story to kill any federal climate bill in the U.S. In fact it’s the perfect strategy if you desire chaos and destruction.

Any association with him immediately demonises the climate movement, and will maintain the stranglehold of oil-rich nations over the American economy. More worryingly in the long term, a world in the throws of extreme weather and an unpredictable food-supply is rich pickings for a fanatic totalitarian.

So how should the environmental movement respond?

  1. Immediately and unequivocally condemn his comments. We can’t let ourselves be aligned with a terrorist. Bin Laden isn’t an environmentalist and cares nothing about climate change (because that would mean caring about people).
  2. Whatever your feelings on climate change; don’t use his comments for your cause, because actually he will be using you.

Making It Count

As politicians and diplomats try to crush expectations from the Copenhagen negotiations next month, young people across the world are stepping up their efforts to preserve the hope of a legally binding, science-based, equitable agreement to secure the survival of all nations and peoples.

Since rising to the task of co-leading the UK Youth Climate Coalition last year, I’ve learnt that when our generation understands what is at stake, and what is necessary to build a safer, better future – we are capable of truly great things. Being more connected, more informed and more savvy than ever before, youth all over the world have unprecedented power to make this a reality. And the bonus of having a good time while doing it? That’s just part of the package!

Amongst those young people making their lives count are 23 individuals from the UK who will be travelling overland to the Copenhagen talks. They will be bringing energy, optimism and a fighting spirit to a process that will surely be remembered with shame in years to come. Their story is being told in parts on youtube, here is the first chapter. 

Our Opportunity

This is a guest post from Matt Williams, a youth organiser from the UK working with the UK Youth Climate Coalition. He recently helped lead a UK delegation to the Our Opportunity youth conference in Copenhagen, and wrote this report.

All over Europe, young people are mobilising around climate change issues. This was evident at a recent event organised by Energy Crossroads Denmark, at which around 300 European students gathered to discuss the challenges we’re facing regarding energy generation. We were part of a team of 23 British students that attended the 3-day conference of talks, discussions and workshops.


Some of the British youth in Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Conor Reid.

Continue reading ‘Our Opportunity’

Davos: Youth Climate Reflections

Charlie Young is a 16 year-old climate activist from the UK. He recently went to the World Economic Forum to push economic and political leaders on climate action and wrote this report on his experience in Davos.

I’ve left the World Economic Forum with a new understanding of what we can do. The clockwork of the decision making infrastructure was briefly exposed to me, and I was forced by logic to change my perception of those in power.

Many of my fellow activists have argued that we need to destroy the system in order to avert catastrophic climate change. I found that idea difficult, as it seems to me that the WEF is here to stay. It is not going to be destroyed by campaigners refusing to be involved. Surely we have more power by getting inside, using the access to hold politicians to their promises, push for real solutions, and help design concrete plans for moving forward?

Make no mistake, it is vital to highlight the bad judgements of our decision-makers and pressure them to move in the right direction. But that alone won’t solve the problem. Don’t we need carrots as well as sticks?

In Davos, I found that some politicians and business leaders really do care. But how can a CEO of a multinational act without loosing their job? I’m not saying they’re all saints – they’re not. Yet, rather than try and put all our eggs in one basket, we can give them a platform, a mandate, to do the right thing.

And it’s not all down to ‘them’ either. As unaffiliated individuals we have a tremendous power to facilitate change on the ground. My mission statement is pretty much the same as the WEF’s: ‘to better the state of the planet’ only we have little structure or vested interests hindering our progress.

It’s ironic. As an activist I’m now trying to help the government. I am going to mobilise the public so that rather than the unlikely event of the government being forced into submission, those who want to make the right decisions can. Granted, we can’t just sit and clap and hope for good – nothing will happen. We need to make it politically feasible, or better, politically attractive.

How great would it be if government could gain votes by acting on climate change?

Let’s make that happen. Let’s supply solutions. Let’s keep going and bring this movement forward!

Yours with hope,

Charlie Young.

Calling The EU

For the first time at COP, hundreds of young people from across the European Union are here to make their voice heard.

The role of the EU is more important than ever. Tomorrow, Heads of State will decide on the EU Energy and Climate Package – this will directly affect what the other major countries commit to within the UN system

We’ve sent letters to our Members of European Parliament, created actions for the press, spoken to negotiators – but the news from Brussels remains bad, so we’ve decided to step it up. With only 24 hours to go before this massive decision is made, we’ve launched a viral campaign to get as many people from across the EU member states to call their Heads of State.


It is empowering and exciting to be part of a connected and powerful group of young people who are helping to lead their nations towards a safer future! So join us – if you live in the UK – call Gordon Brown, he’ll be thrilled to hear from you!


Our Time Is Now

The Global Day of Action against Climate Change has long been a set date in the calendar for seasoned climate activists. This year, however, with the first UK Youth Delegation to the UN talks in Poland, young people are stepping up their activity. Friday witnessed the launch of Our Time Is Now, a resource for young people across the UK to join a generational movement on December 6th – to say that our generation is ready;

Ready for a clean energy economy: An economy that’s based on reliable, renewable energy rather than Victorian technologies like coal.

Ready for 21st century transport: A modern public transport system that gets us from A to B without the hidden financial and environmental costs of flying.

Ready for green jobs now: Secure and well-paying green jobs that can never be sent abroad, turning the UK into a world leader in clean technologies.

The choices our leaders are making now will have impacts that will outlast their careers, but will shape our future. We invite you to be part of an exciting, positive and important movement of young people who have the guts to overcome the failed assumptions of the last century.

We are ready for change. Are you?

Our time is now.
Continue reading ‘Our Time Is Now’

Casper ter Kuile

Casper is the Co-Founder of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, working to build the youth climate movement in the UK. His passion is for effectively communicating the solutions to climate change and empowering young people from affected communities to win their local fights to ensure a clean, safe future for all.

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