COP16 Campaign

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Youth Actions at COP16

In Cancun

Conference of Youth (COY6)
November 26-28, Universidad del Caribe

YOUNGO Policy Positions
(agreed on in Cancun)




Around the world

Campaign Issues for a Unified Youth Campaign

This was a brainstorming. Please feel free to draw from these ideas for your own campaigns in the future!

Campaign: Youth pushing Alternative Agenda at COP16

Message and content: Youth is getting to work on solving climate change.

Issue to Target: Stuck negotiations. Nobody really expects more than being able to "formalize" the targets of the Copenhagen Accord in Cancun. And the hope is that we would be able to get a decent post-Kyoto deal in South Africa next year. For us, it is totally clear that that is a huge waste of time. We need to get down to zero emissions as quickly as possible (about 2050 as a rule of thumb - in industrialized countries before that) and go beyond zero emissions after that. At current emissions in about fifteen years we will bust the budget that allows us to stay below 2°, in about 11 years we'll have passed the line for reaching the 1.5° target - and that is supposing zero emissions immediately afterwards! And then, the Copenhagen Accord is going to increase global emissions, not reduce them! So we really don't have time to breathe and to waste, if we would like to keep living on this planet in a decent way. We need a radical turn. Bolivia is not strong enough to reach that and Tuvalu is not. And Sudan isn't either. But we youth have to step up the fight (yes, fight) for our future onto a new level. The current UNFCCC negotiations are a waste of time, precious time, OUR time. We can't sit and watch. We have to offer an alternative. That's what this proposal is about. It's about offering an alternative. And not just talking among ourselves about an alternative. It is about shouting it right into their face, so they can't ignore it.

Alternative Work Programme for COP16

We propose an alternative agenda and work programme for the two weeks of Cancun. These issues are essential for solving the climate crisis and we propose to put them on top of the COP agenda, before starting the work on the "little steps" they are trying to do. We represent half the world population and we are prepared to go it alone if they are not willing to work with us on solving climate change. We will work on this alone, if needed. For the next COP we need to have this "work programme" prepared with detailed (methodological) steps forward. We can offer to facilitate that work or assist in finding renowned facilitators for each topic.

Organization of work

  • We form a task force/working group of youth who will be in charge of doing this survey and compiling results and we invite interested parties or observers to get in touch and contribute their technical knowledge as well as their network of contacts to this group in order to facilitate the work.
  • We ask all parties to support the youth work programme by making available some time to meet with the youth delegates tasked to gather this information and by providing timely responses. We will definitely report on any failure to do so.

Global Carbon Budget

This was suggested by Bolivia in informal talks on mitigation but deemed "politically infeasible" so pushed off the agenda, even though almost everybody agreed that it is very important.

  • Get ALL countries to put their take on the 2010-2050 global carbon budget on the table. Questions: 1. What should be the upper limit for global CO2 emissions (eq or only CO2) from now to 2050? 2. Which principles would your country favour to distribute that budget and which share of that budget would you like to occupy for your country? (Canadian Senate just killed a law that would have required something similar. We could use this as an example to point to.)
  • Ask these questions in the opening plenary (possibly suggest to set them on the agenda), then do the survey informally during the two weeks. At the end of COP present the results in a press conference.
  • We will ask every single UNFCCC party to specify what they believe should be the maximum global CO2 emissions 2011-2050. We invite to go into as much detail as possible or necessary for explaining how they reached the number. We will also ask scientists for input on this question (and also ask for their reasons behind specific proposals). We will report back to COP at the end of the two weeks - either formally to COP or, if we are not welcome, in a press conference.

Global carbon budget until 2050. How much is that? Invite scientists to testify and let each country decide what they suggest. Present results after everybody has made up their mind, then move forward.

Principles for Emissions Allowance Allocation

We will compile a list of principles that have been put forward for sharing the emissions budget and ask every single UNFCCC party which of those principles they would support. We will invite as much detail as possible on the reasons behind supporting or rejecting principles. We will compile the results of this survey and report back (see point 1). Climate justice. Collect proposals for principles by which to divide the remaining budget. Our suggestion is per-capita, but countries may come up with modifications or even alternatives to that principle. The goal is to have a list of principles which a majority of countries favours and a tentative way to weigh them by the end of Cancun.

  • Humans are equal - why should one be emitting more than the other?
  • Issue to Target: Climate Justice
  • Action Idea: Make a survey of all countries about the GHG budget to 2050 AND the principles they would suggest for distributing that budget. We can also be straightforward and ask about the per-capita principle and ask if they support that (if not, why not) and whether they would suggest to use any exceptions or modifications of that rule.
  • Action Idea: Translate ALL Copenhagen Accord targets into per-capita targets and display them on huge banners, saying "in 2020, US wants to be here, Germany here, Japan here, Brazil here, China here...." (has been done in the meantime, here)

Zero Emissions Plans

We will ask every party to specify by which time it plans to reach zero GHG emissions in their nation. We invite comments on challenges and potentials of parties on this path. We also invite comments on the potential of parties for going beyond zero emissions and sequestering excess carbon from the atmosphere. We will gather methodological proposals for supporting the path of parties towards zero emissions through the convention. We will report back in the same fashion. Zero emissions. ALL countries need to get to zero emissions this century, that's for sure. We want to get every country to analyze their potential, strengths and weaknesses and design a zero-emissions strategy. Obviously this needs to go in line with the first and second point. The total emissions allowance that each country would like to have shall be specified by them by the end of Cancun.

  • Action Idea: Showcase zero emissions plans from around the world
  • Action Idea: Compile a list of countries' date for getting to zero emissions. Mention in press conference.
  • Issue to Target: Zero Emissions as only acceptable goal

Zero Emissions is not a yes or no question any more. It is only a question of when? We must ask ALL countries this question and get the answers into the mainstream media.

  • There are no emissions rights - we have already messed up!
  • Issue to target: 350 ppm - net removals are necessary to get there!

Fossil Extraction Phase-out

Supply-side mitigation is a missing link in the climate negotiations Mitigation acts on the wrong side so far: on the demand side. If we want to solve the climate crisis, we need to get real and talk about extraction of fossils and how and when that will get phased out. This is completely unexplored terrain at the UNFCCC.

  • During COP informally ask major producer countries about which part of their reserves they are willing to leave in the ground. Present results in a Press Conference at YFG Day or the end of COP.

We will meet with the major producer countries of fossil fuels, gather their data on remaining reserves and their projected extraction rates. Suggestions for strategies that would enable them to leave their fossils in the ground will be sought and compiled. Proposals for a global regime regulating fossil fuel extraction and/or export will be solicited. Reporting as above. Fossil supply. Each country shall report their fossil fuel reserves and report on their extraction plans, in line with the global budget. Which part of that budget would they like to supply? A round table of the 20 major fossil fuel producers is suggested to work on possible ways to reduce supply in an equitable way and make the transformation out of the fossil into the renewable age smooth.

  • Action Idea: Have huge charts with fossil reserves' carbon content and admissible emissions to 2050 charted against each other. Other visuals that compare the oil fields and coal reserves with countries' targets.
  • Action Idea: Wake up from the fossil dream! - Alarm clocks ringing, disrupting the meeting. Ask people to wake up. The fossil age is a dream just about to turn into a nightmare. But the "awake state" of humankind is a non-fossil world (was in the past and will be in the future).
  • Action Idea: Show the fossil age on a timeline ranging for the full history of China, India, USA, Germany etc. Involve youth back home to create one for their own country. This could be combined with the zero emissions date thing.

Goals of the Campaign

What are we trying to achieve in terms of policy, public opinion and organization of the movement with this campaign?

  1. Point everyone who is willing to hear towards global solutions for the climate crisis
  2. Highlight the missing pieces in the UNFCCC negotiations
  3. Sensitize our own movement about the concrete steps to solve the climate crisis
  4. Create a working agenda that will be applicable at the national level everywhere and empower youth at home

SMART Targets:

  1. Get at least 5 countries by the end of COP16 to support all our agenda points as candidates for inclusion.
  2. Get at least 20 countries to respond to all our questions in detail
  3. Get a few statements that reject our request into national media in a context that reflects badly on the country delegation rejecting us
  4. Get some numbers that are too high taken up nationally in the public debate
  5. Have a bigger number of countries to support our agenda topics at COP17

Sticky Messages: We'll Solve the Climate Crisis: With or Without You; Time is up; Let's get to work!

Additional Action Ideas

  • Complement/reinforce the work programme with Daily Press Conferences (or less frequent ones). - Commenting negotiations and the distance between our requests, their own proclaimed goals and actual state of negotiations.
  • Youth walk-out
  • National work programme: mobilizing all youth delegates to work on their national negotiators, decision-makers and media to get to work on parts of the programme. This should involve youth outside of the official venue and youth back home as well.
  • Rush for domestic action on the points on our agenda. Setting up meetings with countries etc. They could then be kept accountable to these points by the domestic ycc postcop
  • Sit in in the conference centre, highlighting that we aren't giving up and we'll keep struggling. Why aren't they.
  • Getting our agenda points in at the closing plenary.

Time Line

  • Friday, Nov 26 - Sunday, 28: COY, refining the campaign
  • Monday, Nov 29: Opening plenary, formal introduction of the Alternative Youth Agenda
  • Monday, Nov 29 - Friday, Dec 10: Implementing the Work Programme
  • Friday, Dec 10: Feeding results back via COP presentation or Press conference (or both)
  • Steps of achievement
  1. Officially announce the Alternative Agenda for COP16 in the opening plenary. - depends on ourselves
  2. Get at least one country to formally introduce this proposal for modifying the agenda and have a discussion on that procedural question. - depends on getting support by at least one country
  3. Getting the whole COP to approve the new agenda points. - depends on convincing and getting support by a large number of countries during COP
  4. Getting COP decisions on any of the issues put forward. - depends on maintaining high pressure (and media attention) and mobilizations in countries

Open questions

  • Rules of procedure of the COP: Where and how does this need to be formally introduced? Answer: Point 2 c of the provisional agenda of the COP - Adoption of the Agenda. Here a party could propose a modification. At Point 11 "Other matters" (before closing COP) a report of the results of the Youth Agenda/Work Programme could be introduced.
  • Countries to support: Which countries are most likely to support us? Who has direct contact with them? Answer: Bolivia will be participating at COY with some negotiators.
  • From Ellen 1: need simple message to draw it together - both for media and for inside the conference and so youth organisations understand what they're getting involved in, something around positive vision is probably best (i don't think negative/sad messaging works well at all) solutions-focused is better. Answer: "We ARE getting to work!" is that message.
  • From Ellen 2: I would like to see a bit of a plan of what you want to do with governments and what tactics the campaign would use (media, inside conference centre, outside the centre, etc). Answer: this is to be worked out in detail at COY (Saturday 4-5:30 pm and Sunday 1:30-3 pm).
  • From Hilary: If we ask for an agenda change and get a NO, how can we make sure that that is not seen and felt as a negative and disheartening thing by youth?
  • Would it be better to propose the agenda change for COP17 instead?

Other Campaign Ideas

Youth Demand Open Doors

The need for greater transparency and moral rectitude in negotiating process- representation of youth generation and most vulnerable nations: those who will be inheriting your decisions.

  • Action Idea: International Youth Walk-Out

Stage youth “walk out” toward the end of the conference, prompted by stalemate or an appalling decision, use day to host a 2nd COY, plan for 2011, future COP. Attract media attention to walk-out, in a way that is visually gripping/sobering Send messengers/postcards/symbolic objects to negotiators with our message

  • Issue to target: LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND MORAL RECTITUDE in negotiating process need just, ambitious, science-based decisions

current decisions/system ignoring/shutting out youth and most vulnerable nations youth are leading, despite the failure on behalf of our world leaders

  • Messaging that Sticks: "we inherit your decisions. stop shutting out progress. open the door on global solutions.”
  • Stop wasting our future!
  • Action Idea: Present the results of 100 well-intentioned letters to heads of state by the children initiative "Plant for the planet"
  • Issue to Target: Youth participation

Climate Justice

Youth and vulnerable countries showing climate leadership and standing in solidarity, but ultimately shackled to the decisions of most powerful countries.

  • Action Idea: binding action in collaboration with negotiators and delegates from LDCs and vulnerable countries

youth walk with arms physically bound with those of negotiators from AOSIS and other countries, walk from one plenary to another


-Demand that the U.S and EU support developing and vulnerable countries by sharing technology and providing fast-start and long-term clean tech and adaptation funding -Demand greater influence of global south and most affected countries in setting targets of UNFCCC Messaging that Sticks "we inherit your decisions", “our fates are bound together” no more “sink or swim” policies reframe north to south financing and demand greater participation from countries receiving funding

US/China and Leadership in the Green Economy

Obama needs to show the same leadership that China has taken on building the clean energy economy US and Chinese youth are already collaborating and working together toward the clean energy future: follow our example!

  • Action Idea: Chinese/US youth mock press conference (a la Yes Men/Avaaz Action Factory), posing as US/Chinese negotiators, discussing our plans for leadership and collaboration (possibility: creatively present white paper from Summer's conference, U.S.-China Undergraduate Conference on Climate Change and Sustainability)
  • Action Idea: U.S/Chinese youth conference to build long-term partnerships as well as get participation in our action

Urge President Obama to follow China’s leadership (and even out-do it) on committing seriously to leading the clean energy economy. -get Obama to commit to serious investments in research and development to make clean energy competitive with conventional energy sources -in order to double U.S wind capacity and match China's solar growth rate by 2012 (in time for COP17)

  • Messages that Stick

"Rise to the challenge, Obama..." Competitive? “if you’re sitting on your hands, you can’t point a finger”.


Build off 2008 COP campaign, work with activists from the South

  • Action Idea: Climate Refugee Pilgrimage, set up a refugee camp in the conference centre/All night vigil activists take their belongings and spend the night out at the conference centre as a symbol of solidarity
  • Action Idea: Lifesaver - give big players the opportunity and the obligation to become lifesavers for those facing displacement because of climate change. Something similar to this oxfam action:
  • Action Idea: 'Earth's not a football' -stop playing political football with our future, dress up as China/US play a football game with an earth ball
  • Issue to Target

Displacement because of climate change Politics getting in the way of our future

  • Messages that Stick

change the politics not the climate, the earth's not a football, those who won't lead get out of the way of people who will

UNFCCC left behind

  • Action Idea: Link with 350 10/10/10 global day of action to show that "youth are getting to work" in spite of the UN's lack of progress
  • Issue to target

Lack of leadership

  • Messages that Stick

"The youth are starting to change, are you?"

Daily Press Conference

  • Action Idea

Daily Press Conference: Translate what's happening inside of COP for the media and for youth around the world. And comment. Compare with our standard (solving the climate crisis) - we could then put in a different one of the cool, "sticky" messages every day if not much is happening (which I would expect).

Climate Schizophrenia

  • Action Idea: Do a presentation/video/comic strip and circulate it on the internet or at COP. About a guy going to see the psychiatrist to get a cure for climate schizophrenia
  • Issue To Target

Everybody says 2° or 1.5°, but nobody lives a zero emissions lifestyle. We know the science, but we keep it off the agenda, because it is "politically not feasible". What's needed and what's "possible" in the current paradigm simply do not connect.

  • Messages that stick:

If the laws of physics/nature are going against the laws of business and politics, well, too bad for the laws of of physics!

Stop Talking, Start Planting!

  • Action Idea: Take photos with decision makers.

The Future Has A Human Face

  • Action Idea: any of the above, esp those relating to justice eg refugee pilgrimage and the Youth Proposing an Agenda
  • Issue to Target: Survival, climate justice, inter-generational justice, young people getting to work

Other Campaigning Issues


Issue to target: REDD, Fungibility between fossil and forest carbon Green carbon cannot be made fungible with fossil carbon in our view (that's a position from the Youth Forests Policy Working Group). We propose that protection of forests shall be prioritized and considered a reparation for climate debt. After working through the first points of the agenda, this point (a priority of the Mexican presidency) can be taken up.

  • Sticky Message:

Signing REDD is like pushing the snooze button on your alarm clock once more (deferring the transformation of our fossil infrastructure further into the future). But the house is already on fire!

  • Forest Protection as Climate Debt Reparations

Forest Protection (formerly known as REDD) as compensation for climate debt, not as offset for climate sins.

From Dirty Destructive Fuels to Clean Energy and Green Jobs

Dirty Destructive Fossil Fuels are harming not just US waters but are flooding the world with oil, and preventing us from harnessing the opportunity of the clean energy economy

  • Action Idea: G-20 countries are flooding the world with oil
  • Action Idea: US-targeted: meetings with congresspeople (esp. those who accepted dirty campaign $$$), connect to Gulf Oill Spill
  • Issue to target: G20 FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDY PHASEOUT: Demand that G-20 leaders divert dirty and dangerous fossil fuel subsidies toward clean energy development and green job opportunities in areas that need it most (ex. climate finance for clean tech, mitigation and adaptation)
  • Messaging that sticks

“Real leaders commit. Lead the G-20." "Pull the plug on dirty influence. Stop flooding the world with oil.”

Your actions don't add up. Be coherent!

  • Action Idea: Offer maths private/extra lessons for heads of state. Press release on how politicians are cheating on youth. Lying to everyone by saying 2° and not offering any clue as to how to get there.
  • Issue to Target

Mitigation pledges in Copenhagen Accord which don't add up to reach 2° target

  • Messages that Stick

The "pass the hat around" technique we know from Kyoto and that has been repeated in the Copenhagen Accord doesn't work.

Low Carbon Lifestyles are Possible Today

Our generation has to do the job!

  • Issue To Target

Personal conscience about our role in solving the climate crisis. There are about 40 years left until we need to have a zero emissions world economy. All of us youth will be alive by then (about ready for retiring). So our professional life - and nothing more - is the time the world has for this complete turnaround. So the people who have to assume the work of going zero emissions have names and faces - our names and faces!!!

  • Messages that Stick

Putting a human face to the climate change challenge - either ours, or their own children's, or their own when looking into the mirror on the Moon Palace WC! ;)

The Money Machine Eats Its Children

  • Issue to Target: Money is the motor and compass for today's society. That is getting in the way of solving climate change. We need to put people first. And basic needs can be the compass for what we want to achieve/guarantee for everybody.

Double Counting Issue

  • Issue to target: Non-Annex-I mitigation goals could be double counted if financed by the North, reducing overall ambitions


Issue To Target: 1.5° review

Climate change is already too heavy right now!

  • Action Idea: Do a poll asking "how do you like climate change in real life so far?", then "how much more should we be willing to take for the sake of (fossil-fuel based) development? - Answer options: double, triple, ten times as much, it's already too much". Ok, already made it. go here for the poll!
  • Action Idea: Press conference on YFG Day to present results. Point to the annoying fact that the "double" option is the more radical position in the negotiations right now. Triple is technically closer to the 2° target, for which we don't have pledges yet to reach it. We can invite somebody (from Potsdam Institute maybe) talking about tipping points and "double temperature rise=double trouble?" (probably much more as more and more systems start to tip over)

Mother Earth Rights

as proposed by Cochabamba and Bolivia

  • Messages that Stick

Mama Earth has a fever, and we're the ones causing it. The solution is not slowly increasing the fever!

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