Global youth call on the UNFCCC Executive Secretary to cancel attendance at coal summit

TODAY - As the UN prepares to host its biggest climate conference of the year in Warsaw next week, it has run into trouble with its senior official being presented with an ultimatum by the official UN-recognized youth constituency 

In a bold move, the youth constituency (known as "YOUNGO") presented Executive Secretary



Image by Adopt A Negotiator

Christiana Figueres with an ultimatum: either to support the coal industry, or to support young people fighting for an alternative future.

"We are calling on Ms. Figueres to pick and stick. Pick the future over the past. Pick clean energy over dirty fossil fuels. Pick and stick with young people all over the world who are fighting for a better future," said Lucy Patterson, a coordinator for campaigning network Push Europe.

The strong statement was sent as part of a conditional invitation for YOUNGO's annual pre-COP event (named 'COY', or the Conference of the Youth), usually attended by Figueres. 

This year's event, re-dubbed 'Power Shift Central and Eastern Europe' (PSCEE) is taking place this weekend in Warsaw. While young people meet to plan how to keep over 80% of this industry's proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground, it is feared that the World Coal Association will meet to do the opposite.  

The invitation emphasized that the Executive Secretary would be welcome at this year's youth event on the condition that she cancel her attendance at the World Coal Association's international summit on 18 November, at which she plans to act as keynote speaker.

"The science has confirmed that we don't have time to waste, and we also know that we must keep fossil fuels in the ground if we are to avoid dangerous climate change," said Marta Sykut from Polish Youth Climate Network. "This is why it is unacceptable that the top UN official on climate change should attend a summit aimed at promoting the role of coal in fighting climate change, a bizarre concept that has been put forward by the dirty industry lobby."

The constituency - made up of hundreds of non-governmental youth organisations from all over the world - unanimously decided that the Executive Secretary's attendance at the coal summit was neither in line with the impartial role of the secretariat, nor would it be supportive of the core objective of the convention to avoid the dangerous impacts of anthropogenic climate change.

"While climate change is already being felt all over the world, polluting companies are lobbying the United Nations boldly and directly, hijacking a process that was meant to be about solutions to the climate crisis," said Raquel Rosenberg Lessa, from the Brazilian Youth Delegation. "We are standing in solidarity with people already affected by climate change, and we are calling on Ms. Figueres to do the same, to recognize that there is no role for fossil fuels in a sustainable world."

Young people are increasingly concerned about the influence of the fossil fuel industry on the UNFCCC process, which they feel undermines the legitimacy, perceived and actual, of the process. 

"A UNFCCC presence at the WCA's summit represents a conflict of interest, legitimizing this industry's damaging input to the negotiations," said Ms. Patterson. "It is also against the principle of impartiality of UN staff, and we are worried that it will set a dangerous precedent and open the door for the dirty industry to further influence decisions on climate change."

YOUNGO now await a response from the secretariat. Power Shift CEE will conclude on Sunday 10th November, ahead of the opening of COP19 in Warsaw.



blog comments powered by Disqus