Kern Mangan-Walker: COY10, my First Week of Lima and COP.

COY10, my First Week of Lima and COP

I’ve been in Lima for 7 days now. I’ve meet young people from all across the world, made many new friends, connected deeply with the global youth climate movement, seen ridiculous fountain light shows, explored current archeological digs and got stuck into supporting civil society activities around COP20. There is always something happening in the streets — Marauding colonies of cats, traveling Peruvian bands or late night religious vigils.

Controversial photo with Christina Figueres, the Peruvian environmental minister and the youth at COY. Some young people were concerned that this photo was taken without their permission. (source: COY10 organizers).

Controversial photo with Christina Figueres, the Peruvian environmental minister and the youth at COY. Some young people were concerned that this photo was taken without their permission. (source: COY10 organizers).

Last week and over the weekend I attended COY (conference of youth) which was a space dedicated to educating young folks on climate change, solutions and how to make them a reality. This year we had 700 young people from all over the world, with the vast majority coming from other Latin American States and unable to attend the actual UN COP20 conference. For them it was their only chance to connect with those from the global youth climate movement and their only chance to have a voice their perspectives in the international climate negotiations sphere. It was way less focused on movement capacity building than I had expected and more focused on general education around climate change. This was less useful for me. Still, I absolutely loved the opportunity to connect with YOUNGO (youth constituency in the UN) and to talk with similar counterparts from different parts of the world. It was amazing to hear about all the incredible things that different movements achieve. I´ve been blown away by people´s passion for creating good outcomes and was absolutely amazed by the fact that Tuvalu fasted on Monday to raise awareness around climate change.

One thing that I´ve come to understand is that there is no one pespective on behalf of all young people. Everyone represents different contexts, experiences, geographic situations, socio-economic conditions and experiences. What unites us in our interest in building a better future for ourselves and for future generations. This link is powerful.

A candlelit vigil for the victims of climate change. (credit: David Tong)

A candlelit vigil for the victims of climate change. (credit: David Tong)

I´ve also had the incredible experience of spending time at a large building called CasaActiva or the Convergence Space. This is a large house where different movements and organizations are organizing around COP20, making things for actions, operating a community radio station, coordinating campaigns and preparing for the People´s Climate March on the 10th of December. 

Lima, which appeared to be somewhat dry and desolate from the air is a bustling metropolis with 4 million people and an endless array of activities. It was also a huge shock arriving here and conversing with other New Zealanders for the first time in many weeks, but wonderful to connect with the great people of my delegation. The hostel we´re staying in is great, in a part of Lima named Miraflores (AKA. Home of the Gringo) with a rooftop bar and warm, friendly staff. Our small 8 bed dorm kingdom sits alongside those from many different delegations, from Holland, Germany, the US, Norway and a few others. Sharing the hostel with so many highly motivated, intelligent and interesting people is a lot fun, often leading to conversations which go until 5am. Hence its lucky that I´m not at COP this week.

Having a week off COP20 means that I´ve had time to get to know locals, explore parts of Lima, be part of organizing with other social movements and support the NZYD and AYLI delegations on the inside. This has been rewarding. Yesterday I had the privilage of exploring a working archeological site where a 1800 year old pre-Incan Pyramid is being excavated. With already 50% uncovered, it is a sight to behold — rising 30 metres above the surrounding cityscape, making it a highly immodest pyramid.

Climbing up an inner city pyramid. (Credit: Suzy McKinney)

Climbing up an inner city pyramid. (Credit: Suzy McKinney)

People worry that COP is broken. That the political deadlock cannot create a deal that will keep global temperature rise below 2´C. Still the talks go on with every country trying to create the best outcome for themselves and sometimes the wider world. It´s hard right now because I love New Zealand but at the moment we´re one of the biggest backsliding countries and barriers to positive outcomes from the negotiations. I wish I could be proud of what we´re doing but right now I can´t.

New Zealand has some of the lowest emissions reductions targets in the developed world (5%). We don´t plan to increase this target unless the world comes together to build an international climate pact which lowers emissions and creates a safe, 2´C temperature rise limit.

Unfortunately we´re at the same time advocating for a treaty which according to our own treasury, will not achieve this. From a purely skeptical perspective it seems like we´re trying to bury our own emission reduction failures and ensure we don´t have to aim higher. The craziest thing is we´re actually on track to a 36% increase in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. I optimistically hope that New Zealand will do the responsible thing and increase it´s targets while contributing to a positive international deal but right now I´m not so sure.

Whatever happens, I´m in COP20 next week and I can´t wait to ask our representatives first hand about this inconsistency. I´m cynical about having a positive outcome from these negotiations but can only hope for the best. Not for my own sake, but for the sake of future generations, for the suffering people of the Phillipines and every part of the world already impacted by climate change.

Lets hope for a better outcome than this. (credit: Political Humor)

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.

Posted on December 5, 2014 and filed under UN Climate Talks 2014.