Friday morning, youth from the global north and the global south gathered to create a stunning visual for the incoming delegates, party leaders, and journalists: a display that said very clearly, “Equity Now: Our Future Lies in the Balance.” That is the heart of the youth’s vision.
We’re not all there yet; we have a long way to go. Our delegation is highly dominated by folks from the global north, and within that the majority are white males, but something this year is different. More than any other year the youth are rallying around equity and justice as the only viable solutions.
Hannah Thomas from the UK delegation said in our Climate Justice training, run by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC):
I always heard that we needed to keep temperature levels at 2 degrees Celsius, that this was the safe level. But recently, at a side event here, scientists are saying that if we are not below 2 degrees Celsius then countries like the Philippines will be under water. That’s around 91 million people just in the Philippines that will either be displaced or deceased. This is not equitable, and therefore not a solution.
The EJCC also took part in a press conference on the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), arguing that the program is beyond repair and should be dumped. Tom Goldtooth, Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Co-Chair of the EJCC Board, told reporters:
The CDM is a lose-lose proposition that has become a corrupt and cheap way for the rich North to avoid making real emission reductions. CDM projects in the South generate windfalls for major polluters in the North, providing transnational corporations and governments a way to buy their way out of the responsibility to make their own emissions cuts.
The problem with CDM is that often-times they don’t care about community buy-in — they impose themselves just like the dirty energy corporations. Financial transfers from North to South are necessary but these should be based on the repayment of climate debts and subject to democratic control.
“Justice and equity should be the starting point of any financial mechanism to help tackle climate change,” says Payal Parkekh, Climate Campaigner at International Rivers. This is the only way for solutions to have a long-lasting effect on impacted communities that are bearing the initial burdens of climate change.
That is why we are here: to hold delegates accountable for their rhetoric, especially delegates from the United States, which has great political power within the United Nations and has been stalling process for too many years.
Nia Robinson, the Director of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative described what equitable solutions look like:
Real solutions to the climate crisis require investments in renewable energy, a just transition for workers, and involvement of communities in the decision making process. From the Capitol to the COP in Copenhagen, EJCC will work to advance solutions that offer the opportunity for real energy independence, freedom from fossil fuel addiction and a rebound from a global recession into the New Green Economy.