Although my day began with a Finance working group meeting, I spent majority of my time interviewing youth members of AYCM (the Arab Youth Climate Movement). Initially encountering AYCM at the Conference of Youth, I have become increasingly impressed at the organization of this youth network as well as the energy and passion they have dedicated to climate activism. I am still in the process of conducting interviews, and I will eventually compile them into a synthesized profile. Stay tuned for this profile, as I will post it in a couple of days!
After I had finished conducting my interviews I attended “Fossil of the Day”, an action that CAN (the Climate Action Network) performs every evening at each COP. The “Fossil of the Day” award is a “prestigious” honor given to the top three countries that have been the least cooperative in the negotiations of the past day. Canada was awarded the first place and New Zealand the second place. And of course, the US wasn’t forgotten! In fact it won third place – partly due to the fact that President Obama just signed a bill exempting US airlines from the European aviation carbon-trading plan. All in all the action drew in quite a significant crowd and succeeded in highlighting the lack of climate leadership displayed by these three leading countries.
After “Fossil of the Day”, our delegation Skyped with two classes from SES who were eager to learn about our experiences at COP18. I could tell that the ASD and SES students had already gained substantial experience and knowledge of climate change and the UN process just within the first three days of the conference. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the conference brings for our delegation!
Day two of COP18 was quite a busy day for our delegation. Many of us spent countless hours attending side events run by institutions such as the United Nations Environmental Program, several Indigenous peoples organizations, and environmental activists groups such as Greenpeace. These side events provided critical understanding of not only the importance of trying to prevent the further process of climate change, but also adapting to climate change. These are the two key focal points of COP18: mitigation as well as adaptation to this hazardous global process.
Today was the official launch of the UNFCCC’s 18th annual Conference of Parties! By chance the School for Environmental Studies Education Foundation was drawn out of a lottery pool to receive a pass to attend the Opening Plenary. Cassie, one of the SES students, was chosen to attend the opening while I sat in a different plenary hall broadcasting the opening remarks by Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and the Conference President, Prime Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah. Overall the two leaders of the conference spoke with a sense of optimism and hope that the delegates could reach a consensus in the negotiations in order to avoid a 2° C increase in global temperature (the benchmark that the negotiators have set) and serious irreversible climate change. Cassie was kind enough to let me use her pass after she had her fill of the welcoming addresses - so I was able to attend a part of the plenary as well!
Sunday was spent primarily at the American School of Doha, getting familiar with the members of our joint delegation of SES and ASD students and teachers, as well as myself. After a tour of the school, we strategized and distributed different interest areas (such as Technology, Mitigation, and Adaptation), different civil society constituency groups (such as Youth, Indigenous People, and Women), as well delegation groups (such as the EU or Association of Small Island States, AOSIS) to focus on during the conference. The students of the School for Environmental Studies have their own separate blog with the American School of Doha which can be accessed here.
Siiri with youth participants from the United Kingdom Youth Climate Coalition as well as two members of the Arab Youth Climate Coalition from Algeria
Saturday was the second day of the Conference of Youth at Education City. Although I attended a regional breakout session in which youth from North America met to strategize around lobbying issues and action ideas at COP, the majority of the agenda was dedicated to workshop time. These workshops were conducted by youth from around the world who presented on various topics regarding climate change advocacy and organizing in the context of the UNFCCC. The first workshop I attended, “Contaminated COP”, addressed the intimate relationship that the fossil fuel industry has at COP and how they consequently undermine the progress of the negotiations. Led by a member of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, the workshop stressed the importance of mobilizing in numbers against the incredibly influential power of the fossil fuel companies – an industry that is funded by the most profitable businesses in the history of the world.
You can view our full profile at the Charities Review Council.