by Lurette Paulime
I have been involved in the international youth climate movement before, but I have never seen youth activists experience such an enormous frustration as at COP18 in Doha. At COP16 in Cancun, young people were removed by the police and others got arrested but they did not lose their accreditations to the UNFCCC. Now, this issue is become more serious at the COP18 in Doha.
Some youth lost their accreditation, others got debadged, arrested, and deported. While this situation is not unique, it is especially in Doha that I experienced the fragile state of young accreditation within the UNFCCC. In fact, UNFCCC officials can no longer hide the hypocrisy of their encouraging youth participation in the process. We were present and vibrant in every corner of the convention center in Doha. They asked us to get angry, they asked us to do something — but when we tried to do it, they just kicked us out. The most disappointing scene was the case of the two members of the Arab Youth Climate Movement that were arrested and deported to their home countries when they were just unfurling a banner. Our very own Anjali was temporarily de-badged for no justifiable reason in the first week of the conference. These are just a few examples of the frustration and threats youth in Doha had to bare.
The main reason youth from all over the world gather at the UNFCCC is to demand climate justice. A justice that is crucial to save the planet, our planet. Climate change is real and it is threatening everyone, however it is people in the developing countries that are already suffering the adverse impacts of climate change and addition widespread poverty. So, youth here at the UNFCCC think that the only way to help those people escape their fragile state of vulnerability is by having a climate deal that includes clear provisions on finance, tech transfer, and capacity building.
These are key pieces to help the developing countries address their adaptation needs and strengthen their mitigation efforts and for them to move toward a sustainable development. So, isn’t the youth movement legitimate? Isn’t what we are asking for simply what we need to have: a world living harmony and peace? The developed world wants to keep their dirty businesses at the expense of climate mitigation. It is unacceptable. This is why youth stand with the developing countries to ask the developed countries to cut emissions and provide the means of implementation for the developing countries to adapt to and mitigate climate change as well. This is something that needs to be done and we youth want it now.
Despite the fact that youth faced serious challenge at the climate talks in Doha, we immensely made their voices heard and influenced the negotiations. Collectively, we work as a team to bring the most important issues to the table and prove to negotiators that we are the future and we care about this planet. Doha was the COP where youth participation took a next step and widely criticised the unwillingness of developed countries to support the developing world. Even though most of the negotiation was behind doors, our engagement as civil society was very impressive by all the media during those days at the COP18 in Doha.
One of the most crucial facts that made our participation very special at COP18 in Doha was local, regional, and national mobilization which helped us to fully involve in the youth movement. Our involvement was a remarkable aspect of our fight for a balanced climate package to assist the most vulnerable countries. This is the starting point of this fight and we will continue to stand with the developing world till developed countries provide clear transparency, ambition, action, equity, and climate justice to save the planet from the rise of 3.5 degree Celsius of temperature.
The threatening environment at the UNFCCC will not make youth step back in their fight for a just world. We are just getting started! The developed countries owe the developing world for what they have done to the planet and they will pay them back. The EU, Canada and particularly the US, need to stop their dirty climate dealings and take the lead in mitigating climate change. If we don’t stop climate change now, it is all humankind that will face the irreversible impacts of it.