Reflecting on COP 17
One of the most moving experiences of the conference happened late last night, when I Daniel and I skyped in to speak to 300 students during a school environmental conference in Vancouver. As soon as we mentioned the actions of the “Durban Six” the students broke into wild applause, sending shivers down my spine. At the call I said that a small number of young Canadians were able to make an extraordinary difference in Durban, but that this wasn’t enough. I said we were taking this movement back to Canada, that only when thousands of young people stood up to our government and demanded they put people before polluters would things start to change. The 300 students broke out into another round of applause. Hearing the support from those young people back in Canada was powerful beyond words.
I’ve felt proud and incredibly privileged to be part of the Canadian Youth Delegation. In two weeks the 18 of us have achieved amazing things. The “turn your back on Canada” action received international headlines. We were so successful in admonishing Canada’s record on climate change that Peter Kent wrote an op-ed in a Durban paper trying to justify his position. We crashed Minster Kent’s first press conference, showing up wearing Canada’s “negotiator uniforms”, suits covered in oil company logos. Over the next few days, Peter Kent cancelled one press conference and held another over the phone instead.
We have accomplished many things, yet the Canadian Government continues to bargain on behalf of big oil. We won’t have achieved our goals until our Government puts people before polluters. We need to make this movement massive. The support that has flooded in over the internet and the ovations from students in Vancouver has motivated all of us, and proven that people back in Canada care. We’re going to take this momentum back to Canada, and make this movement impossible to ignore.