A Dose of Optimism Among the Frustration

Written 12/15/09 and cross-posted at sustainus.org/blog

Everyday in Copenhagen at the UN Climate Negotiations brings an exciting roller coaster of activity where the challenges of addressing climate change and the gravity of the situation in which we are present is juxtaposed against daily struggles for access to the conference center and confusion about what is actually happening around us. Word travels fast around the conference center and to the outside, so that those following the negotiations at home often receive information at a similar rate to those inside. This connectivity enables a greater transparency than ever in this process as the public is able to

In the twists and turns of this trip, I have found myself rubbing shoulders with Nobel laureates and making international media for the mere fact that US youth are here in overwhelming numbers to take a stand for bold climate action. This week people who, like me, just want to add their voice to the process have overwhelmed the Bella Center’s capacity. Many who recently arrived for the final week are finding they have limited access to the Bella Center and very little access to the negotiation halls. With observers limited in access to the Bella Center, it may turn out to be a wonderful opportunity for coordination. Among the International Youth Climate Movement we now have a moment to take a breath and plan our next steps. We may see in the coming days that the emerging stories of the young people here in Copenhagen will begin to be articulated as we further unite in solidarity for climate justice in meeting rooms and at dinner tables across Copenhagen. Yesterday a young person from Nepal sat down at a table where I was eating and we exchanged stories of youth activism in our countries. Similar conversations continued in the evening at an event where international youth leaders were brought together to share their stories.

While we are all feeling a bit frustrated with the progress made here politically, we can be reassured by the conversations and networks that are forming, which will provide the necessary action to address climate change. Even Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, has reminded us all several times this week that an international treaty will not resolve our climate woes and that the upwelling of people focused on solutions is what is needed at this point.


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