The “Young and Future Generations Day” event | Photo by Esra Sergi, UN DPI

Youth Demand Climate Action

No generation alive today will be more affected by climate change than today’s youth, and they let it be known today at COP24 that they want action. They say they are doing their part, changing their lifestyles and consumer habits.

And they want a seat at the table, whether the discussion is at an international conference or a local community gathering on climate change.

“Young and Future Generations Day” was marked here at COP24 with youth-led events and creative actions highlighting how young people are finding innovative and ambitious solutions to climate change. The day also served to showcase the work undertaken in their communities to conserve nature, to promote renewable energy, and to adopt environmentally-friendly practices.

Call for Intergenerational Unity

The UN Secretary-General’s Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake joined the youth delegates, calling for solidarity across generations. Changes will be needed, she said. “It will require new approaches in the workforce, education, and socioeconomic development.”

Citing the Secretary-General, she said, “we need a full-scale mobilization of young people.  We need to turn our words into action. Intergenerational partnership is key if we hope to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

She called on the crowd: “Organize people of the same opinion. Organize protests, organize marches, write petitions, hold those responsible for making these decisions accountable. But also organize to go out and vote for politicians and parties that belief in climate change. Organize and run for political office. Wonders can happen when youth take matters into their hands.”

Country Showcases

Part of a climate conference concerns negotiations. That is the core business of a COP. But the Conference is far more than just rooms with negotiators going over the fine points of text. Here in Katowice, up the stairs and down a long passageway lies a world of pavilions, many sponsored by countries, some by international organizations and associations. These pavilions bring a taste of these countries to the COP with décor, but almost all of them feature programmes concerning national actions that address national problems.

The Japanese pavilion stressed technology, with an illuminated diorama of an energy efficient community.  It also showed how renewable energy could power remote islands, and a turbine that can harness energy of typhoons.  The Nigerian pavilion featured a programme on sustainable palm oil production, while the Chinese pavilion had a representative of the International Energy Agency explaining how present emission trends were going in the wrong direction and how the power sector  required a 42 percent reductions of emissions in order to reach the 1.5°C target.