Young people gather to demand action on climate change – UN

17 August 2009 – The largest ever youth gathering on climate change has kicked off today in the Republic of Korea (ROK) to demand that nations ‘seal the deal’ on a new pact to slash greenhouse gas emissions at a United Nations conference this December in Denmark.

More than 800 young people from over 100 countries have gathered in the city of Daejeon for a week-long meeting to stake their claim on a low-carbon, resource-efficient and environmentally-sustainable future.

Nations are expected to wrap up negotiations in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, in just over 100 days on a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), characterized the week-long Tunza International Children and Youth Conference under way in Daejeon as “a gathering of the generation that will inherit the outcome of the decisions taken in December and beyond.”

The world’s three billion children and young people, he said, will see the Himalayan glaciers either persist or melt, sea levels stabilize or rise, and the Amazon either endure or dry out in their lifetimes.

A global town hall meeting using state-of-the-art technology will allow hundreds of other youth to link to the Daejeon meeting to agree on a message to send to world leaders, while a social networking platform for youth on climate change – my.uniteforclimate.org – will also be launched.

Participants at the conference were selected from thousands of applicants based on their outstanding ‘green’ achievements in their respective countries, illustrating strides made by the next generation to address the serious threat of global warming.

The projects included a drive to distribute hundreds of low-energy light bulbs in Nepal, a carpooling scheme in Samoa, a recycling drive in Sierra Leone and efforts to clean up rivers in Russia.

The latest round of negotiations towards a pact in Copenhagen wrapped up last Friday, with only “limited progress” having been made, according to a senior United Nations official.

With only two more conferences, totaling 15 days, scheduled before the December meeting, “negotiations will need to considerably pick up speed for the world to achieve a successful result at Copenhagen,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Some strides were made regarding the negotiating text at the week-long meeting in Bonn, Germany, with countries also discussing how to translate mid-term reduction pledges (for the year 2020) by wealthier nations into legally-binding targets as part of the deal to be clinched in Copenhagen.

“Industrialized countries need to show a greater level of ambition in agreeing to meaningful mid-term emission reduction targets,” Mr. de Boer said. “The present level of ambition can be raised domestically and by making use of international cooperation.”


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