Joshua Kahn Russell, Rainforest Action Network (+45) 50 110 780 *
Youth Create a Climate Storm Inside Bella Center:
Youth Stand with Africa and Vulnerable Countries to declare: "We Will Not
Die Quietly" *
COPENHAGEN -- Echoing the words of Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed and
the African negotiator Ambassador Lumumba, hundreds of youth joined a loud
and energetic climate storm. Youth from every continent clapped, snapped,
and pounded their feet to make the sounds of a rainstorm in a representation
of the typhoons and hurricanes that have ravaged communities around the
world this year. Severe weather patterns are likely to be exacerbated as the
global climate warms, threatening nations and communities around the world.
"Negotiators are turning their backs on us and telling us to keep quiet. As
a young person living in the Pacific, I know what it's like to fear climate
change," said Subhashni Raj, a youth organizer from Fiji who spoke at the
rally. "I'm here to say that we will not die quietly."
Responding to growing calls from African, Island Nation and Developing
Country delegates for a deal based on science and real justice, today's
storm was the largest youth demonstration seen yet at Copenhagen. The over
1,000 youth participating in the talks - the largest youth delegation in COP
history - have consistently refused talk of political compromises that
amount to "suicide pacts" for many low-lying nations around the world that
would be destroyed by unchecked climate change.
Youth are specifically calling on developed countries to step up their
emissions reductions commitments and to cease the secret, back-room dealing
that has plagued the talks.
"Yesterday, in a meeting with African civil society groups, Ambassador
Lumumba made it clear that African countries will refuse to sign a suicide
pact here in Copenhagen," said Landry Ninteretse, a youth organizer from
Burundi. "European and American aid proposals look more like colonialism
than an attempt to solve climate change. Our hopes and dreams can't be
bought off $10 billion dollars."
"Those of us in the North have colonized more than our share of the
atmosphere, and it will be impossible to reach a deal without a serious
commitment to repaying our climate debt," said US youth Madeline Gardner.
The year 2009, has seen an explosion of youth climate advocacy, and the
emergence of the "International Youth Climate Movement," a network of
hundreds of youth organizations and climate advocates from around the world.
By virtue of their age, youth from developing countries in many ways have
the most at stake at the climate change talks as they will far outlive the
negotiators - and experience the impacts of their decisions. Youth are
demanding targets of 1.5 degrees C and 350ppm, with no offsets to ensure