#Decarbonize at COP21

December 3, 2015

How do we respond to the largest global challenge of our time? Climate change is presented to our generation as the ultimate end of the world scenario; as young people in the world today, momentum is growing in our quest to dismantle oppressive systems which place profit above people and planet and to recreate our world in a just, fair and low carbon way of life.

What this actually looks like in our communities depends highly on where in the world we come from, and we need to understand the diversity of pathways and challenges in our way in order to obtain a low carbon world. Dialogue and a holistic understanding of the effects we are confronting is an important step to addressing the extent of the climate crisis. It is increasingly difficult to ignore the effects of increased concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere when there individuals whose homes are being flooded are available to you on a personal level, sharing their perspectives and experience about how this challenge affects them.

Over the last several months, schools from 14 countries around the world have engaged in the #Decarbonize educational mobilization to understand where our global community stands and where we can go in order to meaningfully address our collective global challenge. The result of 10,000 students' ínput and over 25,000 hours of collaboration is the #Decarbonize Global White Paper.

With collaborating students from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ghana, India, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan and The United States, the mobilization has synthesized incredibly divergent experiences and perspectives into one call for action, a call to action which united our collective demand for change.  

Just before the largest ever global meeting of heads of state at COP21 in Paris, youth from around the world met for three days at COY11, the Conference of Youth, to discuss the way forward for young people. Decarbonize was represented by a facilitator from TakingITGlobal and students from The Global College in Sweden who presented the results of the educational engagement and opened a dialogue on the findings.

Through a series of interactive exercises such as sharing stories through ‘speed dating’, spectrum exercises, and group work sessions, participants of the COY shared their experiences of climate change, engaged with the results of the paper and mobilized their own networks to further the Decarbonize call to action. Thematic connections were explored around the paper topics: Energy, Water and Oceans, Resilience & Adaptation, Agriculture, Forests and Land Use, and Aid were examined, discussed and synthesized.

The workshop was set up to mirror the experience students had participated in, starting with their own backyards, then moving to their national contexts, then exploring thematic connections and finally moving towards mobilizing action.

As young people on the ground here at COP21 push governments to commit and act towards full decarbonization, reaching zero emissions by 2050, it is understood that no country, issue or organization can coherently address the challenge of remaking our world. We must each play our part in this change. Stay tuned to the #Decarbonize Hashtag and check out the latest updates from The Verb and the Canadian Youth Delegation to follow the rapidly evolving action.     

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