The Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) recently selected Carleton student Christa Owens ‘12 to serve as a youth delegate to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) this December.
Owens, a sophomore political science major at Carleton College, is one of 19 high school students, college students and recent college graduates in the SSC delegation traveling to Copenhagen from Dec. 7-18. In addition to the SSC delegation, 19 Sierra Club volunteers and a handful of Board members and staff will be representing the Sierra Club in what is expected to be a turning point in international climate politics.
“This is a historic moment in the struggle to solve the international climate crisis, and I am honored to be a small part of it,” said Owens of COP15.
Each year since 1995, global leaders have convened to discuss implementing a 1992 treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. But Owens noted that this year is different since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions targets for industrialized nations, is set to expire in 2012.
“The U.S. was a signatory but never ratified Kyoto,” said Owens, and many of the emissions reductions have not been met by other countries. But the political climate has since changed. “Barack Obama is president, and he has declared that he will be a leader on environmental issues. We need to hold him to that.”
The SSC delegates will take part in the plenary sessions and the workshops at the conference. In the weeks leading up to the negotiations, the SSC delegates will be spearheading a grassroots campaign aimed at mobilizing students and communities across the country. Prior to the conference, they will meet with youth leaders from around the world at the Conference of Youth Dec. 5 and 6.
“It’s exciting to know that there are dozens of students like me from all over the world gathering in Copenhagen because we care about the same thing – our collective future,” Owens says. Several SSC delegates are already coordinating with two other U.S. youth delegations, SustainUS and the Will Steger Foundation.
Other SSC delegates are working on policy research, logistics coordination, and new media communication. Owens, who is working on new media communication, says, “Our role will be using blogs, Twitter and Facebook. We’ll also be documenting our experiences through digital photos and videos, which we’ll post on our website.” Owens adds that she will be working at the Fresh Air Center, an international new media hub for journalists, bloggers, and digital campaigners.“This is a chance to build relationships and collaborate with journalists from all over the world. Collectively, we’ll get more media coverage when we work together, and we’ll have more fun.”
Currently, Owens says, the delegation is now in the process of fundraising for the trip and working out logistics. “We’re also spreading the word that we need to pass a strong, internationally binding treaty. We won’t settle for less. This is our future we’re talking about.”
Those wishing to follow the delegation’s experience in Copenhagen can read the group’s blog at www.sscinternational.org.