Youth have a special place at the UN COP talks.  We have had a presence since the UNFCCC was developed in Rio in 1992, but the International Youth movement has only taken off since the Bali Talks in 2007 (COP13).  In this short amount of time, we have gained recognition as a stakeholder in the process, and have gained constituency status. (It means we are accredited NGO observers and are assigned UN photo IDs like this one: 

Most hilarious accreditation badge EVER.

 

 We are called YOUNGOs (for YOUth NGOs).  There are over 1000 of us in attendance this December, and we have a special role within the COP.  Yvo de Boer, the Secretariat, has called us the moral voice of the UN.  Our presence there reminds our lawmakers of the future that is at stake.  

As such, we try to be as visible as possible.  We hold small demonstrations within the walls of the Bella Center (with the Secretariat’s approval).  We bring energy and color to the conference, and apparently a lot of people really love us for it. 

Here are some of the things we do: 

Today, Indigenous people, the Canadian youth, and American youth collaborated to pull of a protest of Tar Sands.  We did this in a hallway.  It was similar to the earlier event with AOSIS. 

Organic Apple cart guy

 

Here are some other pictures: 

This guy literally rides around the Bella Center selling apples for a dollar or so.  Even I can afford that!  Although now that I think about that, that’s an obscene amount for just one apple… 

This guy was dressed up as a polar bear and getting his photo taken.  Polar bears are to the natural world what the Maldives are to nations: a poster child for the effects of Global Climate Change.  Both are in danger. 

And this is the Fossil of the Day award, put on by Climate Action Network (CAN).  Every day CAN finds 3 countries who have done something to obstruct the negotiations process and assigns them first, second, and third prize.  So far this year, Canada is winning.  And not only is this fun and creative, but it also is a way of informing people of the outcomes and drawbacks of the day’s negotiations. 

 

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I just got out of a press conference with the Administrator Lisa Jackson and the head of our negotiating team, Dr. Jonathan Pershing.  It was a frank discussion, and strictly off the record, so I’m not sure how much I am supposed to repeat here.  Actually, I didn’t find anything especially noteworthy to report, except that the US youth delegation went in early, and we filled the room with our presence.  We asked a lot of questions, and they explained their stances very clearly and, I hope, honestly.  I wound up liking both Lisa Jackson and Dr. Pershing immensely.

I just wish I had gotten my picture with them.

This came at the end of a day spent at the Bella Center, mostly doing my own thing.  The one gripe I have–and I was told this would happen–is that I am so lost and confused all the time.  I never seem to know what’s going on, I’m always the last to know about things, and I’ve missed out on several events I really wanted to go to already!  It really makes me sad!  I think it’s a technology problem–I wanted a laptop soooo badly, but what I really should have gotten is a blackberry.  Everyone else has one, and that’s how they keep up to date.  Why am I always so backward?  I guess they’ll have to give me a Fossil of the Day Award.

Well, maybe I need to get some sleep.  I’ve got to be in like at 7 am tomorrow…which sucks.  I came in extra late today because of an unfortunate incident with a zinc vitamin.  I missed my mitigation meeting, and I get the sense they need my guidance…for instance, many in the group didn’t realize “emissions targets” are part of mitigation, and I get the sense that a couple of others would hijack the group to promote some radical agenda.  Others “get it”, but want youth to issue declarations on things about which the IPCC has no science.  The Youth are the moral conscience of the UN…and it is our job to hold the UN to its own standards.  How can we hold them to their own standards, if we use some other standard?  That’s what I ask. 

Sorry to bore you with my statesman talk.  It’s bedtime, Liz.