Who Cares? COP 19 Warsaw, Poland

Date: 18 November 2013

Being at the UN climate talks can be frustrating, to say the least.

“I care” is the slogan of the host nation Poland. The phrase was used by the COP 19 president, Polish Environmental Minister Martin Korolec, as he announced the conference officially opened.

Quite frankly, there is a big gap at the moment between the rhetoric and the reality. There is a clear lack of ambition in the negotiations. Unfortunately, climate change does not wait for  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)   and nations to come up with an agreement about how to tackle this great challenge of our time. That is not to say that we do not need an international agreement because we very badly do. Nevertheless, it is the efforts and progress made on the political levels that are far from satisfying.

Climate change needs action and ambition on many levels. Internationally, locally, individually, collectively, politically, economically. The issue is too complex to be solved in a single one of these areas. For this reason, grass roots movements play a key role in creating change. When politicians refuse to act the people need to make their voices heard. The energy in the youth climate movement is stunning. Focused, knowledgeable and determined to create change.

As the world’s largest youth organization, we in the YMCA have the network and capacity to deliver real, sustainable change in our communities. We empower young people. Let us empower young people to be environmentally aware and responsible as well. Let us empower young people to a lifestyle based on sustainable values and societal and economical structures. These young people already exist within our diverse movement. They only need to be given the space and the opportunities. Imagine empowered young people changing the premise and parameters for their own future, as well as for future generations.

I have most certainly been empowered and given opportunities to affect my future through the YMCA. I believe that by making the movement a more green one it does not divert us from what we do and who we are but rather enriches us with another dimension so crucial to the well-being of the youth of the world.

By Andreas Axelson
Change Agent, Sweden.

Illustration used courtesy of Josh Lafayette. Check out more of his design, illustrations and music