Kelly Hawrylyshyn is DRR Advisor at Plan UK, and has been supporting Plan programme countries to develop their child centred DRR work for the past 4 years
I was interested in reading, among the many comments that came out this week on the Durban COP, one which called COP17 the ‘Youth Summit’.
Eighteen year old Cat Hudson from Runcorn, England, was supported by Plan and the UK Youth Climate Coalition to take part in COP17. Why Cat wanted to go to Durban: “We as young people have a voice and must lobby our negotiators. We have to remind them that they are there representing us and our future. This is our life they are negotiating on, our future – climate change will impact us the most. Why shouldn’t we be there?”
Indeed it seems that young people like Cat were a driving force to pressure delegates to commit to the Durban Platform.
True this is no real “deal”, but yet another procrastinating mechanism to generate further dialogue and (dis)agreement on a potential future replacement to the Kyoto Protocol. The urgency in getting some deal out of Durban is the simple fact that we are now on countdown mode for the Kyoto Protocol, due to expire next year. The Durban Platform does seem to be the step forward needed following the two steps back we had at the stale Copenhagen and Cancun COPs.
The positive outcomes that came out of Durban include an extension of the Kyoto Protocol (to 2017), and more importantly a commitment from China, India and the US to sign up to a post Kyoto legally binding agreement. Getting these big players to even say that was indeed quite a triumph for the South African hosts. Another major achievement was the advancements regarding the roll out of the Green Climate Fund – which will make available US$100billion per year from 2020 for developing countries to help them deal with the effects of climate change and become greener economies. And we at Plan are lobbying that these much needed funds be channelled to support the protection and wellbeing of children – particularly girls – who are set to bear the greatest brunt of the changing climate. For more information on this see our report Weathering the Storm – Adolescent Girls and Climate Change.
The real verdict of the outcomes from Durban is that for children and youth, COP17 resembled a Christmas gift that did not go down too well. They, together with the many frustrated delegates, see the outcomes at Durban as simply more promises to take future action for cutting down emissions at some stage – with the interim period, the meanwhile as carbon emissions continue to spit out from our nations, not being up for discussion. And let’s not even mention the Christmas scrooge, Canada, who one day after the climate talks ended, declared they were abandoning the Kyoto protocol.
But as we all know, children never forget promises made to them (ie: the Durban Platform), and let there be no doubt that they will come back in full force to remind us all that their future is not up for negotiation.