Can Youth Anger Make a Difference at COP18 Doha?
Hear those calls from Doha, Qatar? You have heard the argument before: we have to start healing the planet now to protect it for future generations. That argument, while valid, is analogous to the massive debts many countries are amassing, especially here in the U.S. It is time to pay off the deficit now so we don’t burden our children; the same goes with the world’s resources. The problem is, the people who are using our resources and spending us into overwhelming deficits . . . are not the ones who will have to pay them off. What is interesting about COP18 in Doha, however, is that the world’s youth have become more vocal about climate change. Many youth organizations are frustrated with the United Nation’s slow pace (pace being a GENEROUS word) and are taking matters in their own hands. As Annette Fisher of Trust.org explains:
In recent years, the lack of progress at the UN climate talks has led to youth-driven movements taking themselves out of these formal negotiations and instead speaking directly to people from all generations, all over the world, through innovative actions and by harnessing new technology. Examples include the unprecedented ‘Day of Action’ which took place before COP15 in 2009, organized by 350.org and described by CNN as “the most widespread day of political action in our planet's history”; and initiatives such as Avaaz, which have enabled people all over the world to speak directly to their decision makers.It is doubtful that the bureaucrats and business leaders who are in Doha the next two weeks will take much direction from the world’s youth. But COP18 could result in two interesting trends: first, youth in the Middle East could become more engaged about issues concerning climate volatility; and second, future conferences of this stature will have to listen to the world’s young--they are just becoming too noisy, too tech savvy and too results-oriented to dismiss. Photo courtesy Leon Kaye.