The way things stand right now, the negotiations are teetering between total collapse and a greenwash photo-op, according to the briefing I received by a Friends of the Earth member who addressed us here at the Fresh Air Center.  NGOs have now been totally blocked from entering the Bella Center, even with a secondary badge. 

Like I said, I’m not inside the Bella Center today.  I might have been, if the civil disobedience that was being planned had turned out. 

The US youth delegation was planning on sitting in on the US Delegation Office and declaring itself to be the new negotiating team, then announcing the correct mitigations targets needed to prevent the climate system from imploding (since the US is the world leader, no one will commit without the US committing first).  We would have dressed in our most professional clothes and refused to leave until security guided us out.  It would have been peaceful and functioned as one last hurrah before we are shut out entirely tomorrow.

This idea came from an international youth idea to take over the US Delegation Office, but this would have looked really bad on their part in the international media; their message would have easily been lost.  Therefore, we decided we needed an American core, with the support of all international youth–who would accompany us, not be subject to getting kicked out or arrested.

I would totally have supported this and been willing to sit in the line of fire.  When my future is so callously tossed aside in the interests of petty things, risking arrest and being permanently kicked out of the UN (even if one day I do want to be a diplomat) seems pretty unimportant to me.

But–our action was hijacked.  It was twisted from its original statement to become an action in which international youth sit down in the US Center and make a list of demands.  The US Center is not the same thing as the US Delegation Office.  The Center is an informational section right next to the EU Center, and is generally open to the public; it is used for presentations; the diplomats don’t hang out there.  All symbolic meaning was effectively lost by doing this.  Moreover, the US youth delegates no longer would no longer have been doing the taking over.  International youth had protested that they should have a role–which they should, but to include them in the takeover would have conveyed the image of rowdy anti-Americanism.  Great messaging, guys.

Then, the message was further lost by trying to combine the protest against the US with a protest against Canada.  For those who are unaware, Canada has a terrible record regarding climate change action.  I can see that, and see that it needs to be addressed–but let’s not forget that they, too, are hiding behind the US as an excuse not to act.  The US needed to be the target here.

I don’t pretend to be an red-necked uber-patriot, but what really set me against this was when the folks who had been hammering out the details–neither of whom were American–declared the US negotiating team to be “incompetent” and called the US Center the “Propaganda Center” multiple times.  (It’s sort of true, but come on–every piece of literature you will receive in the Bella Center is some form of propaganda.)  Saying it once would have been funny.  Saying it multiple times–especially by a non-American–was really offensive to me as a US national.

That was incredibly insensitive–about 1/3 of those in the meeting were Americans.  Furthermore, the US negotiating team hardly qualifies as incompetent–they simply can’t negotiate beyond what the government allows.  We’re briefed on respecting the nationalities of others when we come to these events–maybe other countries should learn to do the same. 

I also noted that almost no one from the global south (who will most keenly feel the effects of climate change) was represented in this potential action, and I got the feeling that this was turning into some sort of “arrogant European*” radical anti-American action.  The discussion was so badly split on this issue that I took the opportunity to leave.  I don’t know whether it will ever materialize, but I for one will not be a part of it.

I’m not sure why I just spent 700 words telling you this, but it sheds light on what it’s like to work at a COP as a youth delegate.  With all of our energy and idealism, we too stood on the brink between total collapse and a greenwash photo-op.  High pressure didn’t matter; politics got in the way of what was necessary.  The End.

*I don’t think Europeans are arrogant, by the way, but since they wanted to call spades for what they are, then so will I.

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I spent the weekend, at the times when I wasn’t risking life and limb, mulling over my fundraising options. 

I spent yesterday evening at a mixer for UC’s Sustainability Coalition gathering petition signatures for the Climate Countdown campaign.  I would appreciate it if you could help me by signing here.  After that, I had an interview with The NewsRecord, and then we watched the Age of Stupid in the university theatre. 

Today, I gave a presentation at Xavier University on the Copenhagen climate treaty process and my role within it, and tomorrow I will be doing the same at UC.  I’m not the most engaging speaker (I rival Al Gore in terms of boredom) but it’s all in a day’s work. 

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK.

…GETS WRITTEN ALL OVER MY BLOG.

Power Shift Ohio was so much fun!  Several people even confided in me that they thought this one was better than the one that had so inspired me in DC.

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/OHMap-doton-Oberlin.pngI persuaded my sister to come with me…so she could get volunteer hours…which we then forgot to do.  We left Friday afternoon on a little yellow school bus for Oberlin, which is 4 hours north of Cincinnati (see the red dot on the map).  Not a lot of folks from my alma mater came with us, which, given that our school has a population of 37 000 students, is horrible–but props to the two (three?) who did!  Cincinnati State more than made up for UC with their presence.  Props to Cincinnati State!!

The conference itself was great.  There were approximately 400 in attendence from around the state of Ohio.  Here are some of the awesome things that happened to me:

  • Katie and I stayed in the dorms with our gracious hosts, Sarah and Michelle.  We slept on the floor.  In sleeping bags.  With great cameraderie.
  • I met up extremely randomly with someone I met at the original Power Shift in DC.  She lives in the room next to ours.
  • I saw Jupiter and four of her moons through a telescope!  I did not come to Oberlin expecting this.
  • I did come to Oberlin expecting to make a presentation, but did not expect to do it under the following circumstances:  First, I was originally supposed to be part of a panel, but that got switched around so that I was supposed to give a workshop with Max (Max who took me to Athens that once).  That was okay, but they put us in the Health room, which was pretty much like being in Hell.  There were graphic and blood-curdling threats all over the walls, in poster form, demonstrating the effects of drugs and sex.  These posters covered literally every square inch of every wall; emanating from them were the wails of the damned.  It’s easy to make fun of now, but it was both distracting and offensive when we were trying to talk about climate legislation.
  • In addition to teaching about the Copenhagen climate treaty process, I attended 3 other workshops about environmental issues.  I can’t remember what they are now, but I did learn one thing.  It takes 1.5 gallons of gasoline to make 1 gallon of corn-based ethanol.  Ethanol=fail.
  • We got free lunch and dinner at Oberlin college’s cafeteria.  It was freaking posh.
  • I collected 130 signatures on my Climate Countdown petition (the same one I made a button for 3 entries downSign it already!).  That was the best part; I just took the clipboard around the dorm on Saturday night and went door to door to all the different parties asking folks to sign.  Oberlin is very liberal.  Everyone rides a bike, and everyone I asked signed the petition.  These people rock, and I wish I had gotten my degree here.
  • We formed a rally with flags and masks and stuff and marched through Oberlin.  Why we were raising climate awareness on the most liberal campus in Ohio I have not yet figured out…but Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich came to speak to us, and Jennifer Brunner gave a keynote, all right there at the rally.  She signed my petition as well, and when she runs for Senate this upcoming year, she most certainly has my vote.

All in all, it was a very fun weekend.  I got to meet with all sorts of awesome folks from around my home state, discuss various issues, inform others about my trip to Copenhagen, visit Oberlin, meet famous people, and bask in the warm sunshine and the joy of living.

I pity the fool who chose not to come.  And if you’re still reading at this point I pity you too, because you have too much time and not enough stuff to do.  Take some more time and look at my picture album.