posted by Link on Feb 24
Dear All, this is an article that I wrote for my college magazine. Most of it also ended up (with photos) on the University Website, but I can’t find the link now! If you want to see photos, everything’s up there on http://picasaweb.google.com/swiftarrow9/CopenhagenPictures.
You are part of the International Youth Climate Movement!
Before the official United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 15th Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP-15) in Copenhagen commenced, youth from all over the planet came together and held a Conference of Youth (CoY). Few of us had met before, and almost all of our communication till date had been over the internet! Each of us had our own expertise on different subjects, and our experience of the problems back home that we had to share. The two days of CoY were organized by the International Youth Climate Movement (basically, all of us). Most of the organising had been done prior to arriving in Copenhagen, via email.
At the CoY we conducted our own workshops and meetings, on topics as diverse as the State of the Science of Climate Change, to Technology Transfer, to Street Acting, to the issues facing our Forests, to Climate Justice. Naturally, one couldn’t attend all of them. The Science of Climate Change was my first stop, as I thought that building a repository of facts to back up my arguments would be a good idea. It didn’t work (though most of the facts were shocking, the numbers didn’t stick with me) but the exact and overwhelming scientific evidence is available to anyone should they just ask. One thing that we talked about was how to deal with UN party delegates, and others, who deny the reality of climate change, stating proudly that they do not believe what they call a “conspiracy theory.” One person’s answer really stuck with me: “Do you mean to say that millions of scientists, in diverse fields, spread all across the globe, are conspiring together to scare the entire world of people into thinking?” Because if you deny the reality, you are definitely a conspiracy theorist!
As youth, we have our own system of “Robert’s Rules” (the protocol for facilitating meetings) which enabled us to efficiently and democratically arrive at consensus on a variety of issues. Official delegates to the UN (the negotiators) were even heard wondering at our ability to operate quickly in our meetings, in comparision to their collosal waste-of-time protocol!
Our Lungs, Our Forests
At the workshop on Forests, I learned that United Nations, it seems, has never seen one, because they define it as:
“Forest” is a minimum area of land of 0.05–1.0 hectare with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) of more than 10–30 per cent with trees with the potential to reach a minimum height of 2–5 metres at maturity in situ.
Going by this definition, a palm oil plantation is a forest, but a small oasis in a desert is not. Freshly deforested land with stumps instead of trees qualifies (by other definitions) as “exhausted forest,” while a vast area of natural scrub-brush, referred to as “forest” by the people who depend on it for their sustainable life is not recognised as such. This single mis-definition is the source of many abuses: using it, a corporation can denude a hill, create a plantation, and claim carbon credits for “Sustainable Forest Management.” As strange as it may seem, this is exactly what is happening in many parts of the world as we speak. One youth from Columbia spoke of how vast tracts of jungle in his country are being converted into bananna and palm oil plantations, and are considered by the UNFCCC as “clean development.”
Forests and photo-plankton remove our respiratory waste product from the air (C02), and produce the raw material so essential for our life: Oxygen. They are the natural extension of our lungs. They are also the are the two ways that our Maker sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere, keeping global temperatures in check.
I love forests. Going for a walk in a forest – whether a scrub brush expanse or a tropical rainforest – is one of the most enchanting experiences, and can never be replaced by a plantation. Not only that, where do the animals live in a plantation? Where is the biodiversity in a plantation? “Plantations are NOT Forests!”
It’s time for Climate Justice!
Over 500,000 people signed a petition saying “It’s time for Climate Justice.” This petition was delivered by Rev. Desmond Tutu to Mr. Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the UNFCCC. (Mr. De Boer collected quite a few autographs: another petition presented to him by TckTckTck had Eleven Million signatures.) What is Climate Justice? Well, I attended the CoY workshop on it just to find out.
Imagine that you, your neighbours, your village, and the neighbouring villages, all had to vacate the fertile lands you have inhabited for generations so that the Sardar Sarovar Dam can be built to irrigate dry areas of desert and provide water for chemical factories. Imagine Coca-Cola purchasing land, poisoning all of the surrounding paddy fields with waste chemicals, pumping out all the local groundwater, and producing many truckloads of private profit per day. Imagine your neighbourhood temple, mosque, church, demolished to create a parkinglot for the latest mall. Imagine that a company purchased the local forest, and proceeded to cut down every tree. Imagine that the government decided to create a harbour in a place that threatens the already endangered Olive Ridley Turtles. Imagine that, without your understanding or consent, the government decides that the entire coastline of Andra Pradesh (including your home) is foreign territory, belonging to and administered by SEZ companies; that you, your children, and 20 million others suffer the effects of no home, no land to grow food, no water to fish in, heavy metal poisening from fly ash, deformities, and death.
Better yet, don’t imagine: just read the news. This is happening now.
Is this Just? NO! And yet most, if not all, of the “development” that we see going on today is ruining the environment, killing ecosystems, displacing people native to the area (and who’s existence has never wrought such harm for thousands of years), and doesn’t even stop to think! In the name of increasing the economy we allow people’s and Mother Earth’s rights to be compromised. This is all in blatent violation of Climate Justice.
Climate Justice is everything that we hold dear: the right to life, and our corresponding duty to ensure the same right to others including trees, plants, animals, aquatic life, and the invisible creatures that are indispensible to our survival. The fact is that the lives of people and other life forms cannot be made a chip on the table of negotiations: “Survival is Not Negotiable.”
Inside the Bella Center
The Bella Center (“Beautiful Center” in English) is a huge conference center about 10 minutes out of Copenhagen by metro. It’s so big, in fact, that from the back entrance (used for everyone except VVIPs like Prime Ministers and Presidents) to the other end was a full 15 minute walk! There were perhaps 20 different conference halls of various sizes, to accomodate the meetings, consultations, talks, side events, and what not that was all happening concurrently. The daily schedule (printed and distributed fresh each morning) came in two parts, and was invariably over 20 pages; it was humanly impossible to be part of everything.
The actual negotiations were happening in the two large “Plenary” halls (and were called “Plenary sessions” or just plain “Plenaries”). These negotiations were broken down into various groups: the CMP (Conference / Meeting of Parties) – which is the main, high-profile meeting, the SBI (Subsidary Body for Implementation), the SBSTA (Subsidary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice), and a few others. The subsidary bodies create various policies that they then recommend to the CMP for adoption, and if everyone can agree (and they cannot, because too much lobbying money gets in the way) the policies are adopted.
Alongside are all the “Side Events,” talks by various NGOs, UN bodies, Press conferences, educational exhibits, and what-else-have-you. Some side events are very interesting, and could not be missed, others are dry and boring. The purpose of my being there was to try to influence the negotiations for the better, so primary focus was not on the side events. I missed many that I would have preferred to attend, but I’m not sorry! The few that I manged to go to, I found both edifying and soporific.
Addressing the SBSTA
The International Youth Climate Movement (IYCM) had, for the first time, a constituency status (Youth Led NGOs, or YOUNGO) at the COP-15. This meant that we were given an office among the offices of other countries, and were officially allowed one intervention in the meetings of each body of negotiatons (as was each official constituency): CMP, SBSTA, SBI, etc. An “intervention” is essentially a little speech. At the convenience of the chair of the meetings, we are given the floor (our mic is activated) and each constituency gets 120 seconds to give official air to their grievances or state their position. Representing IYCM, I delivered the intervention to SBSTA. The text of my speech is available at: [http://www.taleofgrace.com/2009/12/iycms-message-to-sbsta-by-link/]. This is what I said:
Thank you Madam Chair,
Respected negotiators, my name is Linkesh Diwan.
On behalf of the International Youth Climate Movement, I speak for 2.2 billion people, the children on this Earth.
We demand that forests be preserved in their natural purity, rightfully protected by International Law, and kept out of the carbon market. Take the brackets off our future.
Forests are more than carbon sinks. Forests provide homes, food, soil, clean water, for diverse life forms. Forests are different from plantations. Forested lands, all lands, must be held in trust by and for the local or indigenous peoples that depend upon them.
REDD, as it stands, presents a huge danger to human rights, natural forests and the climate.
This we can not accept.
As youth we fear your plans for us. Seeking Climate Justice, some of us have been fasting and praying for 37 days on water only. We are desperate.
To avoid a disastrous outcome from COP15, we demand that any agreement must include:
- a clear definition, and distinction between plantations and natural forests;
- explicit language protecting intact natural forests, and ensuring conservation of biological diversity;
- aounting for emissions from peat soils and other ecosystems;
- safeguards for the rights of local and indigenous peoples;
- and we need to address the causes for continued forest destruction.
Dear Leaders, before you make your decisions, please ask yourselves: what would Mahatma Gandhi do? Please do that.
You should know that going over the draft agreements in the UNFCCC, any clause or phrase (or even a word) which has not been fully agreed upon has [square] brackets on it. Such text is optional, and not binding should the agreement be adopted. Unfortunately, all the text which would bring a good deal, ensure the protection of people’s rights, and ensure the survival of our planet are bracketed, optional, and have no force whatsoever. Hence, we ask them to “Take the [Brackets] off our Future.”
How Long Can You Live Without Food?
Well, more than 44 days at least, as proven by Sara Svensson of Sweden and Anna Keenan of Australia. As the Climate Justice Fast, they were among six other long-term fasters around the globe, and thousands who fasted in solidarity, as a prayer and penance for Climate Justice. These two youths, Anna and Sara, both fasted on purely water for 44 continuous days, starting in the month run-up to the conference, and breaking only after the conference was over. Also fasting in the Bella Center were Daniel Lau and Matthieu Balle. Daniel had to stop his fast early on doctor’s orders, and was very dissapointed. But none of them were doing it to die; it was a call to conscience, as were Mahatma Gandhi’s fasts. Together, the Climate Justice Fasters, inspired by Gandhiji, brought great seriousness to all aspects of the negotiations that they managed to touch. Yvo de Boer aptly observed that their fast was “symptomatic of a huge public frustration.”
We were involved with the Climate Justice Fast from before the start of COP-15. My Mother helped them alot, bringing her expertise as a Gandhian Scholar to their press conferences and releases, and I did whatever little bit that I could, passing out fliers, accompanying them around town, mentioning them to all the negotiators that I met, and general support.
Forty Four days is a long time on just water. However, remember that number, because unless we start to care for our Mother Earth, in the days to come we will have no food.
Meeting Vandana Shiva
Dr. Vandana Shiva was among the numerous hard-working concerned people there. She spoke at the KlimaForum (a climate forum for the people in Copenhagen) and at the Bella Center. Another member of our team, Rashi, and I went to the KlimaForum and interviewed her, asking for a “message for the youth back home.” The video of her message is available at [http://www.earthethics.org.in/content/vandana-shivas-message-indian-youth-cop15]. Later on I met her again when she visited the Bella Center.
Some Countries are More Equal than Others
Ah, the United Nations, where countries come together to solve our differences on an equal platform… Err… Reality Check. Perhaps the importance of a country is governed by it’s population? Wrong again! Like all other commodities in our modern capitalist globalized world, Self Respect, Dignity, and Importance are to be purchased. Discounts available for bulk orders.
Most countries did not have an exhibit, but those others that did had to contend with just a small desk in a hall filled with other exhibits. However, the European Union and the US both had large exhibits filling a whole hall, with food, small video halls, and more. They were called the “EU Pavilion” and the “US Center.” Admittedly, they had lots of very interesting activities going on, some impressive displays, and lots of bragging about how much they are doing.
For the negotiators, countries like Canada and the United States had huge office space – a good two minutes walk long – while countries from Africa had very little space, if they had offices at all. India had an office plus meeting room about as big as half one of our classrooms. Was this unfair? The United States had a team of almost a hundred negotiators, likewise Canada, so they needed the office space. I was able to meet the entire team of negotiators from one African country; it consisted of 3 people. While the 100-odd US and Canada negotiators dabbled in CO2 targets and did their best to do nothing, the African countries, and other countries most vulnerable to climate change, were working hard round the clock, trying to bring about an equitable, climate-saving deal. The under-staffed Maldives team actually drafted one youth from India.
In the very beginning of the negotiations, I witnessed the lead negotiator from Tuvalu (a small, low-lying collection of atolls in the Pacific Ocean) requesting that their proposal for amending the Kyoto Protocol be considered, as it had been submitted six months prior, as per the protocols, and was now due for consideration. Countries like USA, Australia, and China would have nothing to do with it, and after much confusion, the meeting was suspended with no progress. Towards the end, the Danish government brought their own proposal out of the blue, bypassing all the regulations, and it was discussed the very next day. Tuvalu’s proposal, as far as I know, was never discussed. As I began to see, no matter how hard the “smaller guys” work, the “bigger guys” will always call the shots at the United Nations.
Negotiating Under Influence
Last I checked, if I get caught driving a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, I’m liable to lose my license, get fined, or even jailed. Why? The logic behind this is that my decisions (or lack thereof) may endanger the lives of hundreds of other drivers who’s paths I cross in my inebriated mobility.
Why, then, are negotiators allowed to yake decisions that affect the lives of billions of people, that may endanger the existance of millions of habitats, and that can wreak havoc on (or bring tranquility to) our environment, supplied with endless quantities and varieties of alcohol? At the Bella Center, drinks were supplied at lunch, and again at dinner, and I don’t know about breakfast. Any variety, any flavour, any combination, and any amount was available for anyone. (I did not partake.) It’s no wonder that these negotiators failed to reach an agreement… its possible they were never sober enough to decide that an agreement was to be made!
Whatever happens, NUI (Negotiating Under Influence) the lives of billions of people should be outlawed.
Stop the Lechers!
Prostitution is legal in Denmark, which may have been a deciding factor in choosing Copenhagen as the venue. However, not all are depraved: the citizens of Denmark have been pressing for a cessation to this rank slavery of women, and the Copenhagen Mayor, via the City Council, sent postcards to all the Delegates requesting that they please avoid using the prostitutes in Denmark while they were there. You see, with the United Nations coming to town, thousands of girls from neighbouring countries, even as far as Russia, were being enslaved (they call it “recruitment”) into prostitution just to satiate the lecherous desires of these grey old “leaders,” representatives of their countries. It was a brave (and most probably futile) attempt to avoid ruining the lives of so many girls in a one-off event.
For most of these negotiators, this is hardly a meeting of much import. It is a high-class party. At least there was a moral stance somewhere. Cheers to the Danish people.
Everything You Want, Except What you Need Most
One nice thing about the COP-15 was the amazing spirit of giving. So much stuff was available for free! Just because we were Official Observers to the United Nations, Denmark and Sweden teamed up to give us free access to all public transportation for the duration of the COP. And if public transportation was insufficient, we could borrow a nice, tricked-out bicycle for a couple of days! If you needed to get somewhere in town, electric cars (with driver!) would chauffeur you to your destination. At the Bella Center, every NGO had badges, stickers, lapel pins, promotional pens, etc, for free. The exhibit hall was more like a free bookstore: every publication on display was free for the taking. Laptop problems? No problem! Just borrow a (very nice) IBM Thinkpad in exchange for your passport! Need to print something? There was a sea of laptops set up for surfing the web and printing free of charge! Even free colour photocopying! The internet was fast, free of delays and fees! And if you were worried that you wouldn’t be able to carry all of your free stuff back to your home country, you could ship it for free, via DHL Global Express. (We shipped 26 odd kilograms of printed matter, and are trying to figure out a way to disseminate this information in the best way possible; your suggestions are welcome.)
Are you thirsty? Free cold water was available at dispensers located in many places. You would rather have something hot, or some food? THEN we have a problem! Anything and everything you could possibly want was available for free, except for food. And food was expensive! One sandwich cost 25 Danish Krona, which converts to about 250 Rupees, and a simple cup of self-serve chai was around 100 Rupees. There was free food at select side events, but you had to attend the side event (usually an hour or so of boring talks) to access it, and we did not have that kind of time to spend.
Interestingly enough, the food situation among the youth mirrored the fiscal situation among the negotiators: while youth from India, Africa, and other poorer countries got food from our richer counterparts, negotiators from poor countries were asking for funding from the richer ones!
Sadly, the parallel goes farther still: the one single most needed item at COP-15 was a focus on Ethics, and it was sorely missing in the negotiations.
As we are all now well aware, COP-15 did nothing that people hoped it would. How did such an abysmal failure come about? I’ve got the inside story.
On the very first day, I asked a couple of African negotiators for their thoughts… “It’s all Politics, you’ll see. Nothing will come of this. The US, rich countries will block everything.” I was disenheartened, seeing they had lost hope. They were amused, seeing my hope! But they were right on everything.
Now I know, as do so many others, that the negotiations will never produce anything substantial, unless significant changes take place in the method of operation of the UNFCCC. The real change must be implemented from the bottom up, from the grassroots: the top-down approach has failed, for the 15th time in a row.
As members of IYCM, part of the YOUNGO Constituency, we were “Observers” to the UN process. We could attend the meetings, meet the negotiators, lobby, etc. We were representing the youth of our countries, and bringing their voice to the venue. We did everything we could, staging skits, actions, protests, singing songs, etc. Bolivia was the one country that really came out strong, insisting on Ethics and progress in their draft proposal. We got a leaked copy beforehand, and were so impressed that I paraphrased Simon & Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” and we sang it. We were actually asked by the Bolivian Ambassador to sing it for Evo Morales (the President of Bolivia). The video of that is at [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lrtgfLUlew]. The words of the song are:
Every day their stalling and
they’re saying the same old things again.
But one bright country stands apart,
they’re sayin’ things close to my heart.
They’ve got a plan with hope in hand,
They’re sayin’ c’mon let’s just start…
(Refrain:) Bolivia, I wish I was Bolivian
Just one degree temperature rise,
300 ppm in the skies,
cent per-cent emissions down by two thousand forty
Does anyone know the price of waiting
fighting, hating, procrastinating.
My future stands in front of me,
while people here make history,
I hope and pray that it will be,
what the world’s children wish to see…
We’ve got to take the boldest steps
there’s work to do; clean up the mess.
My future looks me in the eye,
says to me the time is nigh
It’s time to see the world agree,
time for responsibility!
Towards the beginning of the second week of the conference, things were progressing (albiet slowly), decisions were being made (though not all the right ones), and the conference was moving forward showing promise of having an almost-just-ready framework for agreement. But then someone kept dropping in obstacles.
For example, REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) is an agreement that was being worked out, to provide incentives to forested countries to keep their forests instead of cutting them. Although full of loopholes, mis-definitions (like the one about forests above) and lacking strong provisions that human rights groups and us youth were pushing for, REDD came a long way, and was just about ready. Over the course of the year and the preceeding week, each clause had been gone through minutely, the language reworked, loopholes inserted (and then blocked by further text), other loopholes removed, and the text was finished in a mere 5 pages. However, just before adoption of this text, the USA came along and, merrily bypassing all procedure, dumped in two extra pages of text! Two pages can not be plowed, seeded, watered, and weeded into a final shape in one week (it’s doubtful if a year would suffice), so this single act was sufficient to ensure that REDD remained unready.
In the second and final week, the UNFCCC began thinning out the civil society (including us youth) in the Bella Center. On Tuesday and Wednesday, only 1000 people were allowed in, out of 15,000 accredited observers. On Thursday, only 60. Friday and Saturday, all observers to the UNFCCC process were kicked out, effectively removing the small voice of the conscience of the people, and the representatives of the people, from the venue. Observers were not desirable for the treason that followed.
Stuck outside and denied a way to do our duty to the youth of our countries, the IYCM regrouped in a large hall in the center of Copenhagen. We set up huge projector screens, a sound system, internet access, and work tables. On the projector screens we were able to get the live feed of the talks going on in the Plenary halls, and it was deplorable.
I watched President Obama’s speech from the Fresh Air Center, another convergence spot, set up by TckTckTck. It was a dissapointment. He had all the right words, the right expressions, nice wordplays, cute cliches, but no substance. He even said “We have said what we are going to do…” What the US said they were going to do was very little, amounting to 3% reductions of CO2 from 1990 levels when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends at least 40% reduction by 2050. (Note that the IPCC has a history of understating the magnitude of the problem.)
Towards the end of one of the plenary sessions (it was running late), the chairperson of the meeting announced that the President of Denmark was consulting with countries to bring about an agreement, and that the consultations would be done by morning and he would bring a result to the conference. The representative of Tuvalu asked “Madam chair, we would like to know when these consultations are going to happen.”
Madam Chair responded by saying that “All I can say is that the President is consulting, and he will get back to us in the morning.”
Tuvalu: “Madam chair, we would like to know when we will be consulting with the President, as till now most of us [countries] have not been informed about these consultations.”
Madam Chair again stated “The President is consulting, and he will have his results by morning.”
After a couple of other countries voicing their concern, Tuvalu again took the floor. By this time everyone was noticibly irritated, some with Tuvalu, and some with Madam Chair. “Madam Chair, we would like to know how these consultations are being carried out, when, and where, as we percieve a lack of transparency in these matters.”
Madam Chair’s response: “If I may say this, the President is consulting on just that, on how to consult, and he will have the results of this consultation in the morning.”
I’ve reproduced the dialouge here as close as possible to the original. I wish it had been a comedy show, but it wasn’t. It was a coup.
The result broke early the next day. The leaders of 26 countries as “Friends of the President” had been called for special consultations with the Danish President. In that group, five countries: USA, China, Brazil, India, and Japan played decisive roles. Excluding most of the world, these countries consulted and finally brought out a 5 pager (of which two pages are blank tables) that they called the “Copenhagen Accord.”
This “Accord” was forced on all the other countries of the world (about 170 odd countries), but they refused to accept it – and a good thing too! The “Copenhagen Accord” is a great example of getting nowhere fast. The accord does not mention any specific targets, except limiting global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. Looking at the scientific evidence and the problems from just our present 0.8 degree increase, we feel it right to say that “2 Degrees is Suicide.”
The accord’s reference to individual targets of countries, if religiously adhered to, will increase CO2 in the atmosphere from our current 387ppm to 770ppm or more. 350ppm is recognized scientifically as the maximum amount sustainable for our planet. The Accord does nothing, and was not agreed to by more than the five key countries. These countries cannot concieve of development in any other model than the current capitalism: a licensing of greed, overconsumption, trash, and inequity. That India too follows the same broken model is a shame for us all, coming in stark contrast to our ancient civilization, and all that Gandhiji had prepared India for, pre-independance.
All the same, as youth we must grudgingly admit that India played a “leading” role, a role which led down the same old path of make-statements-do-nothing. India’s government actively worked for a weak Copenhagen Accord, and betrayed the trust of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the African Union nations. These countries looked up to India, and expected her, as an upholder of Dharma and as one of the “big ones” in the G-77, to ensure their rights for survival, and to consequently work for a strong and ambitious climate deal. Our government had other ideas.
Our Minister for the Environment, Mr. Jairam Ramesh (former minister for the economy), in his report on COP-15 to the Indian Parlimant (full text available at [http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article69893.ece]) revealed the agenda that he went there with. India’s objectives were achieved, he said, in that emission peaking dates were not laid down in the accord, and reduction targets were not specified.
India has further tentatively proposed reductions in “emission intensity” of 20-25% by 2050. With regard to this, I’d like to quote from another article of mine:
Emission intensity, and the use of emission intensity, is fundamentally dishonest, designed to protect the interests of greed, and to divert our attention from the real issue at hand: our current development model does not work. Not only does it degrade the environment, pollute our air, our water, our land, it increases poverty. For all the development of the last so many years, the amount of poverty in the world has increased, to the point that now, today, there are 500 million hungry people in India alone. (Full text of this article, and justification for this statement, is available at [http://www.whatswiththeclimate.org/2009/11/30/the-farce-of-emissions-intensity/].)
It’s Your World
December 10th 2009 was designated the “Young and Future Generations Day” by IYCM. (YuFuGe, poignantly rhymes with Re-fu-gee.) On that day, we all wore T-shirts asking our leaders “How old will you be in 2050?” (By the way, I’ll be 62 for most of that year.)
Most of our lives will be between now and 2050. The world we have to inhabit is no longer pure, pristine, with inexhaustable bounty. What the generations before us took for granted, we no longer have. Our oceans are choked with plastic (in some places outweighing plankton 6:1). Our hills, valleys, rivers, and streams are filled with trash of all sorts. Our forests have shrunk, and are still shrinking to the point where they cannot keep up with all the pollution that we are making. Millions of acres of land are useless, due to toxicity from nuclear accidents, war, chemical fertilizers. The wealth that nature once supplied: clean drinking water in the streams, clean air, abundant food, has been consumed by our predecessors; we now inherit a defaulted intergenerational debt.
It is our duty to make sure that the debt stops here, now. Having been educated, we are now invested with the duty to help the poor and suffering, to let them know that the system that educated us is the same system that impoverished them; and to work with them to find an alternative for sustainable survival on Earth.
We have a right to live, and the same right extends to the rest of creation. To ensure that we may exercise that right, we must ensure the same for all the plants, animals, and ecosystems on our planet. Then only do we truly deserve it. We are the generation that makes right the wrong unknowingly committed in the past. It may not be a glamorous existance, but at the end of the day, towards 2050, we will be able to give to the young ones to come, a cleaner, more beautiful, perhaps pristine, natural, and safe Earth.
After all was said and done in Copenhagen, we youth got together and decided that it is [Y]OUR world. And if any change is to come, we must bring that change. We must BE that change. And we must work tirelessly to clean the oceans, rivers, lakes, and skies. To de-toxify the land. To educate our fellows and show the world the higher road. We must reach out and empower the poor to know and defend their rights; they hold the knowledge of living in harmony on and with the Earth, and are the last bearers of India’s great civilization. The time for Change has arrived. You, me, all of us; we are that change!