by Laura Rigell
Today was a day of rushing around, as usual, with extremes of exhaustion and excitement. Alex and I started our morning again at the YOUNGO meeting. Youth debated signing onto a position paper about intergenerational equity. It was great to get oriented to the actions planned for the day, those meetings are always too brief it seems, and have to be cut off at exactly 9 since another group needs the room.
I briefly went to a meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) on Land Use. Unfortunately they were just discussing process, so I left to meet Camila Bustos (Brown University) and Alex to go check out the US pavilion. Many countries have an area around their delegation office with self-promotion. I grabbed coffee there and then headed to the CAN International briefing.
It began with a die-in action, in which people lay on the floor covered in white cloths, representing dead people. Others, representing the Japanese delegates, ate sushi off of the bodies, symbolizing their seemingly blaze air about emissions reductions. The CAN-Japan representative is on his fifth day of fasting. The Secretary of the Polish anti-mining coalition called ‘Development YES, Open-pit mines NO’ announced that he would begin fasting at that moment. CAN then presented the Fossil of the Day to Japan for its emissions-increase target. A CAN representative stated that, even if Japan replaced their 20 nuclear plants (which are under safety inspection following the Fukushima disaster) with their current proportions of other energy sources, they could still accomplish a cut of 17%. The CAN-Australia representative announced that this Sunday there will be over 200 coordinated actions across Australia, demanding more ambition. She emphasized that volunteer fire fighters will be participating inspired by their experiences with recent unprecedented forest fires.
Camila and I then rushed to a side event titled “Human Rights: How Lessons Learnt from the CDM can inform the design of new market mechanisms.” It began with case studies of contentious Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. These initiatives are often pursued in developing countries, who can be compensated by another country for hosting an emissions-decreasing activity. The funding country receives a carbon credit toward their emissions reduction goal. Case studies included a coal-fired power plant in India and a hydroelectric dam in Panama. Both spokespeople voiced that local people, particularly indigenous people, had not been consulted in the lead-up to the projects. They demanded that CDM projects obey national environmental laws, international human rights law, and require consultation with all stakeholders. During the second half of the event, officials knowledgeable about CDM including Peer Sitansen, the current chair of the CDM executive board, joined. He and others expressed commitment to the value of CDMs, and expressed hopes for increased stakeholder consultation and safeguards similar to those included in REDD+.
I then went to a YOUNGO meeting about the role of youth in the 2014 Climate Summit, which is being hosted by Ban Ki-moon, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ahmad Alhendawi, Ban Ki-moon’s envoy on youth attended the meeting and expressed sincere interest in lifting up young leaders at that summit.
I headed from there to meet up with Carol and Alex for a bit before going to a panel on Divestment, being held by SustainUS and the UK Youth Climate Coalition. I was so energized to see how widespread divestment has become. It was encouraging to hear rational defenses from international youth for the value of divestment, as Swarthmore students started the first campaign three years ago. Now there are hundreds of such campaigns across the world. I recorded the whole panel, and plan to post it soon.
With too many worthwhile things always happening at the same time, it seems hard not to constantly rush from one to the other. I left the panel early to meet up with Carol and Alex for our meeting with Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UNFCCC. It was such an honor to sit down with her, even for 20 minutes. We were lucky enough to be able to video record the interview. We will also upload that soon. I am so grateful to be able to claim Christiana as a Swarthmore alumnus.
We then sat in on the US delegation briefing before heading into downtown for dinner. After sushi at a nice restaurant, with boats floating around on actual water on the sushi bar, we headed to the youth space. The Poland Youth Climate Coalition has organized a space independent of the COP for young people to convene. We used their internet to skype into Swarthmore to touch base. It was a highlight of the day to reconnect with our base!