Sitting back at home after my first ever trip on the euro star (Is it usual to shout WOW quite so loudly when you come out of the tunnel?). I now have time to reflect on the events of the last two weeks.
I have come back from the UN talks, scared and frustrated and yet more motivated and passionate than ever.
We have six months left until Copenhagen, and presently it’s not looking good for getting a deal that will safeguard our future. But as I’ve said before, at heart I’m an optimist. Though at the minute the hope is only a glimmer, I’m not willing to give up yet.
But the time has come to stop activism as usual. Just as business as usual is killing the planet, so activism as usual is not coming up with the solutions.
The time for creativity is here, we need powerful activism that will really change the face of the debate.
Yesterday at the closing of the talks the international youth took this idea and we really stepped it up. We came out in force wearing our blue “How old will you be in 2050?” t-shirts- you couldn’t turn a corner in the conference centre without bumping in to one of us.
To begin the day we illustrated the deep inequality within the negotiations by the simple actions of playing football as the delegates came in.
Global North vs Global South – 20 on one team 4 on the other.
We had rules such as every time the Global North shouted secret meeting the Global South had to leave the pitch, and we had a referee who just ran around shouting acronyms that no one could understand! It was a really effective way of presenting the unfairness in the size and capacity of the official delegations and definately made people stop and think.
We also had camels, yes that’s right camels, outside the conference centre, along with a huge amount of sand. They were to show the consequences of doing nothing about climate change. Our message…Shrinking targets, growing desert!
Within the conference centre we hand delivered notes to every delegation, with a personal message to their country from a member of the youth movement. In the notes we asked them for progress and leadership, or let them know our frustration with their postion, or simply supported their positions. Every note conveyed the personal feelings of the youth that wrote it.
Before the closing plenary we sat in some delgate’s chairs and didn’t move until asked (or eventually moved on by security). We were demonstrating that we have a right to be in these talks, that it is our future they are negotiating with. Those chairs belong to us as much as them.
And biggest of all (as you may have already seen on the blog) we rapped in plenary! Now you have to understand that plenary is like the Holy Grail, you don’t mess with plenary. Even clapping after a speaker is not really allowed. Also all actions within the conference centre are supposed to be approved by the secretariat, we hadn’t let on a thing about what we were about to do.
We chose to rap as we thought it might be the one thing we could get away with. That it might be received as being youthful and creative (so we wouldn’t all get chucked out and loose our accreditation). But it was still a risk, none of us knew what reaction we would get. As we waited at the back of plenary you could feel the tension in the air, I thought my heart was beating so loud that the whole room could probably hear it.
As the chair wrapped up the final LCA (long term cooperative action) session about 30 of us simultaneously stood up on the balcony. That caused enough of a stir, we had definitely made our presence felt. They knew at that moment that the youth were watching! Then as the chair brought down his hammer to close the session we did it! It may have been a youthful and creative thing to do but our message was deadly serious (Check out the lyrics in Florent’s blog on adopt a negotiator).
And the result, well we were really well received! No problems, no trouble. It just goes to show that rules can be pushed to their limit, if you do it thoughtfully and peacefully.
On the final day of these cold, hard, UN talks, the youth made our presence felt and reminded everyone of the real reason we are here. We made the UN sit up and take notice.
Now we all have six months to make the whole world sit up and take notice. The whole world needs to know what is happening right now, in these negotiations and at every meeting our leaders have. And the whole world needs to show them we want action.
We want a deal that ensures the survival of all nations and peoples. We want a deal that ensures our future on this planet.
The youth are stepping it up. The movement is growing and drastic action is planned. We are prepared to do whatever is necessary. We will be getting more creative and more powerful, and we need you all to join with us.
As this round of talks finishes my blogs will get a little less frequent, but rest assured that’s not because I’m not working on this, in fact quite the opposite. As I return to the UK the fight just gets bigger and I’m ready to do what I can, to do my best…
…because in the face of something so huge that’s all I can do!
And that’s all I can ask of you.