Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, has nicknamed the youth activists “Generation C,” and in the past has been very supportive of their efforts. At the Global PowerShift meeting in June, she encouraged them to work towards a draft agreement in 2014. In addition to urging them to really understand policy, technology, and finance, she also told them to make consumer choices taking into account carbon footprints and to raise their voices to build movement. She commented, “I still do not understand why we don’t have people on the streets every single day raising their voices for climate.”
While it may work for the youth to raise their voices on the streets, it doesn’t work in the conference halls. After the speech by Yeb Sano, three youth were escorted out and lost their credentials for “causing trouble.” After initiating the “We Stand With You” chanting, they unfurled a banner with the number of casualties from last year’s typhoon (1,200) and this year’s supertyphoon Haiyan (10,000+?) and asked “How Many More?” Accounts and photos can be found at the blog and the press release. It is hardly surprising that at the plenary session of the the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, Emilia Merlini, a representative of the YOUNGOs (Youth NGOs) called for urgent action before noting that “our generation is voiceless in these corridors” and then taping her mouth shut to drive home the point.
The YOUNGOs are also frustrated that Christiana Figueres has agreed to be a keynote speaker at the upcoming coal conference. They challenged her to withdraw from the commitment in an open letter. So far, Figueres has chosen to stick to her plans to be at the coal conference.