Speaking in the Plenary of the COP19 UN Negotiations


On the opening day of the COP19 UN Climate Negotiations (November 11), I had the immense privilege of delivering a youth statement to the plenary at COP19. Present in the plenary were delegates representing all UN member states. I feel very humbled to have represented youth and future generations in speaking for the planet. I hope that the message I delivered resonated with party delegates and helped increase a sense of urgency here at the COP19 negotiations and beyond.

I strongly believe that it is our moral duty as humans to each other to do right on climate change because people’s lives are on the line and so much is at stake.  Just two days before I delivered the plenary speech, ten thousand people from the Philippines perished from the super typhoon Haiyan. It was the strongest typhoon ever recorded, a typhoon that made stronger and more deadly by climate change. What does it take for us to wake up to the devastating effects of climate change? More loss of life? To quote Yeb Saño (passionate lead negotiator for the Philippines): “If not us then who? If not nowthen when?” As a global family and as citizens of Planet Earth, let’s rise up to the occasion, work together and address the greatest issue of our time.

Here is the video of my speech: COP19 Youth Intervention Andrew Wong (Canada)

The full transcript of the speech is as follows:

CMP Plenary Intervention by YOUNGO
Delivered Monday November 11th, 2013, 3:00pm
Speaker: Andrew Wong (Canada)

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates,

My name is Andrew Wong and I speak on behalf of YOUNGO, the official Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC. I am from Canada but I will do my best to speak for all youth worldwide.

First, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the people of the Philippines who have lost loved ones to super typhoon Haiyan. Ten thousand lives were lost this weekend. Ten thousand loved ones. Ten thousand members of our global family. What does it take for us to wake up to the devastating effects of climate change?

One year ago, all 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol agreed to establish a second commitment period. Our message to you is simple: now is the time to translate the Doha Amendment into action. We need action, not empty words.

We as youth would like to congratulate Barbados, the United Arab Emirates and Mauritius. We congratulate them because they are the only countries that have ratified the Doha Amendment so far. Therefore at COP19, we call on all other countries to follow through on their commitment and ratify the Doha Amendment immediately.

The latest IPCC report re-emphasizes the inescapable fact that climate change is serious and worsening. And yet countries take climate change lightly, as reflected by their actions. I am sad to admit for instance that Japan, New Zealand and the Russian Federation failed to take on any commitment during the second commitment period. What’s more, some of the world’s largest absolute and per capita emitters such as my home country of Canada and the United States are not even part of the Kyoto Protocol. This is unacceptable. I am disappointed in my country. Due to their lack of participation, the second commitment period covers less than 15 per cent of global emissions, which is far short of the global emissions that must be cut. To stabilize at a 2 degree Celsius threshold, 80% of all emissions must be cut. How can we even be thinking of drilling for oil in the Arctic?

Looking to 2015, I strongly call on all countries, including my country Canada, to act in the spirit of international cooperation and become signatories of the next global climate agreement that replaces the Kyoto Protocol. The 2015 agreement needs to integrate critical themes including intergenerational equity and loss and damage for developing countries suffering from the effects of climate change. There is an urgent need for public financing for mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building in developing countries. The consensus needs to be one of action and substance.

We, the youth of the world, believe that your generation holds the world’s atmosphere on trust for our generation. We in turn hold it on trust for future generations. You do not own it, but you have the responsibility to protect it. We must preserve our climate’s fundamental integrity so that we do not violate the fundamental rights of your children and your children’s children.

Here at COP19, I implore you to put politics aside, to unite in common purpose. I implore you to ratify the Doha Amendment. I implore your country to act in a spirit of international cooperation and become a signatory of the 2015 global climate agreement. I implore you to take responsibility for your emissions which are burdening the commons of which all life depends. I implore you to take to heart our voices as youth and future generations–your decisions will dictate the rest of our lives. At the end of the day, we are citizens of Planet Earth and we each have a responsibility to the Planet and to each other. Human to Human. It is our moral duty to do right on climate change. Let’s rise up to the occasion and do it here at COP19.

Thank you.


Author: Andrew Wong


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