“As youth, we have the right to shape the world we live in,” the declaration said. “We are already taking steps in our own lives and communities to realize our vision and we demand that our leaders do the same.”
The UN talks were the first meeting of the countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012.
“Blue Ventures is committed to raising awareness of the link between climate change and coral reef bleaching,” said Harris, who represented the United Kingdom in the Youth Delegation. “Rising sea temperatures are responsible for massive coral bleaching events across the globe and threatens the future survival of these critically important marine ecosystems.”
Governments from 190 countries are meeting this week in Montreal. The negotiations take place against a backdrop of mounting evidence that climate change is already happening around the globe. The 10 hottest years on record globally have occurred since 1991, and in that same period global sea levels have risen by around 20cm. Global warming represents one of the most significant threats to marine environments and coral reefs worldwide.
Effective strategies to reduce global emissions – and stop the resulting climate change – is critical to the survival of coral reefs as well as many other vulnerable habitats around the world.
At a high-level UN Ministerial session the Youth Delegation called for minimum binding emissions reduction targets of 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 for developed countries. The delegation also implored governments for a just transition to a low-impact renewable energy future.
“We are the ones who are going to have to bare the brunt of climate change impacts,” says Jessica Thiessen, the founder of the Arctic Council Youth Network from the Yukon. “This Summit shows that youth everywhere are already involved in climate protection.”
“We are doing our part and we ask governments at the UN Climate Change Conference to do theirs,” says Catherine Mulinde, a PhD student from Uganda.
Along with the rest of the world, Blue Ventures will watch the meetings in Montreal closely and hopes those in power will put aside their national agendas and finally force an end to global warming.