Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Youth delegates want Australia to play a bigger role
by Carmelo Amalfi
THE world is in their hands.
Young people from around the world including Australia have converged on Copenhagen to ensure world leaders listen to their concerns over climate change.
Australian Youth Climate Coalition delegate Ellen Sandell said climate change was a big concern among young people.
“We’re the generation that will be most affected,” she said at the AYCC booth at COP15.
“We are here to put pressure on our government to come up with a fair agreement.”
Ms Sandell said Australia should play more of a leadership role, particularly in setting up practical targets to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia is the biggest capita producer of atmospheric pollution - about five times the per capita emissions of China.
“We need a 40 to 50 per cent cut by 2020,” she said. “The five to 15 per cent target which the Government has committed to is not enough.
“The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) said developed countries need to reduce emissions by 25 to 40 per cent if we are to have a 50:50 chance of avoiding a two degree increase in global temperatures.”
The AYCC is the biggest youth organisation in Australia consisting of about 30 national youth organisations representing students, indigenous Australians and professionals.
The growing coalition is a youth-run and youth-led organisation, with all staff, volunteers and steering committee members under 30 years of age.
Asked whether recent political events in Australia could jeopardise its efforts to highlight the need for a climate change deal, Ms Sandell said: “It’s a real shame what’s happened.
“I think the Liberal Party is completely out of touch, especially with young people.”
She said the federal election next year would test the parties’ commitment to fighting the biggest environmental problem facing the planet.
“It looks like climate change will be a major issue, we will make sure it’s the number one issue,” she said.
Young people have attended climate negotiations since the 1992 Rio Earth summit, their actions having resulted in widespread media coverage and mobilisation of thousands of people.
With financial support of the government of the Netherlands and input from YOUNGO, the UNFCCC secretariat has planned a series of events at COP15 to support youth engagement and contribution.
After the first official UNFCCC press conference on Monday, young people from around the world held up LEGO blocks stating “10 million people expect a fair, ambitious and binding” deal.
Fiji delegate Leah Wickham, 24, delivered the message to UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer and COP15 president Connie Hedegaard.
She broke down, calling on the heads of COP15 to save her generation with less talk and more action.
“I am here to fight for my identity, for my culture and for the right to exist,” she said. “I really hope the decision makers sign a deal that will mean that my children inherit a safe world,” she said. “All the hopes and dreams of my generation rest on Copenhagen.”