Monday, December 21, 2009

Copenhagen: What's Next?

I have just come back from Copenhagen COP15. While it was a thrill and privilege to participate, it also made evident how far we still have to go to meaningfully address climate change and resource degradation.

I was touched to see the buzz and interest of 40,000 participants engaging at the official conference, and of many more participating in side events and demonstrations. Most paid their own way to Copenhagen, showing incredible commitment to making this world work for all, now and later. There is tremendous public will to make a difference, beyond the 193 country delegations, and possibly over 130 heads of state.

But much about the Climate Talks was quiet puzzling as well:

Most delegations seem to be unaware of the link between climate change and resource constraints. Why would Europe propose to reduce emissions by X, and to reduce even more if everybody participates? If they fully realized resource constraints, and recognized that without a strong Copenhagen regime the world will get volatile more quickly, their proposition would look differently: They would suggest to reduce emissions by X, and if NOBODY participates, would propose to reduce European resource use even more to get Europe ready for a wild and rapidly resource-constrained future.

Informed negotiators would arrive to Copenhagen with the mind-frame of “we have a big incentive to make this deal work, because without the deal, we will have to work harder," rather than “I will not reduce if you don’t”. Perhaps these Climate Talks should not be called negotiations (which connote: “How much am I willing to give?”). A better name would reflect designing a new framework for cooperation (“How do we need to work with each other in order not to sink the planet?”). It was particularly stunning to see how addicted we still are to outdated terms like “developing and developed countries”. These terms embody the linear development that is not only becoming physically impossible, but is also the one that got us into the climate problem in the first place. What we need is green prosperity, or green development, that works with, rather than against the budget of nature.
But there were also quite a few achievements:
Many local initiatives – cities, pro-active businesses, regions - are already moving ahead even without global agreements.

REDD+ (United Nations' collaborative programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) represents a solid recognition, that land-use and biocapacity are keys to the global carbon cycle. Many solutions to climate change will come from carefully managing our use of ecosystem services.

Delegations showed their level of commitment, negotiating through the night and working tirelessly towards solutions – all encouraging signs that we are at a historical crossroads. Sustainability is certainly no longer a sideshow.Nigeria delegation were very smart, hardworking and well prepared, with a Delegtion Office with enough staff to asisit with anything, There is an information website on Nigerian Particoation at COP15:

Nigerian Youth were not left behind, The Government supported a few to particpate while other were sponsored by Development Agencies. As the leader of the Nigerian Youth Delegation, I was invited to particpate at the Official delegation meetings and side event were I made presentations.

We the Nigerian Youth at COP15, have liad down plans for Post-COP 15 activities starting in January 2010 with a Youth Summit and exhibition in Lagos in Feburary 2010

With growing interest in resource degradation and climate change, Nigerian Youth Climate Coaltion (NYCC) will play an even more significant role in 2010. We are both excited about this prospect, and immensely thankful. We are grateful to you, our partners, and for your ongoing trust and interest.

Lets not forget that we as individuals still have the ability to tackle climate change ourselves. We shouldn't get the politicians of the global north get away with it but we have a HUGE responsibility ourselves! Lets slow down, consume less and enjoy life in a sustainable way!

Esther Agbarakwe
Lagos, Nigeria

Saturday, December 19, 2009

UN Climate Change Conference, COP 15: Failure or Success?

Copenhagen, Denmark - The UN climate talks in Copenhagen were inches away from total failure during the night and this morning were gripped by a last minute debate on the legally binding nature of an eventual agreement. It is clear, however, that the present ambition is far too weak to tackle dangerous climate change. 

Copenhagen was at the brink of failure due to poor leadership combined with an unconvincing level of ambition. Well meant but half - hearted pledges to protect our planet from dangerous climate change are simply not sufficient to address a crisis that calls for completely new ways of collaboration across rich and poor countries.

Politicians around the world seem to be in agreement we must stay below 2 degree C threshold of unacceptable risks of climate change-in theory.

However, practically what leaders have put on the table adds up to 3 degrees C of warming or more according to WWF estimates. Millions of lives, hundreds of billions of dollar and a wealth of lost opportunities lie in the difference between rhetoric and reality on climate change actions.

The draft Copenhagen Accord is a long way from developing into a legally binding framework for decisive action on climate change. We needed a treaty now and at best, we will be working on one in half a year's time, said Carstensen. what we have after two years of negotiation is a half backed text of unclear unclear substance. Noon of the political obstacles to effective climate actions have been solved with the possible exception of the beginnings of financial flows. 

The lack of clarity is illustrated by a call for a global peak in emissions as soon as possible, in contrast to the 2007 call of the IPCC for emissions to peak in 2017. Emission reductions pledges remain far lower than what is required, with a leaked analyst by the UNFCCC secretariat showing a shortfall that would lead to 3 degrees C of warming even without considering extensive loopholes. 

We are disappointed but the story continues, said Carstensen. Civil society was excluded from these final negotiations to an extraordinary degree, and that was felt during the concluding days in Copenhagen. 

Esther Agbarakwe
Copenhagen. Denmark.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Youth Climate Leaders Stand With Millions Demanding a Real Deal NOW

Youth address world leaders at high-level plenary at UN Climate Summit, demanding governments commit to bold targets to ensure survival and climate justice.

COPENHAGEN – With over 1000 youth leaders from more than 100 countries gathered in Copenhagen, the International Youth Climate Movement at the UN Climate Summit today sent a powerful message to the assembled world leaders that governments must rise above the divisive politics of the past and show true leadership to ensure nothing less than the very survival of current and future generations.

“We have all worked for the past two years with the promise of a strong deal in Copenhagen to safeguard our future. Now it seems you will not get it done,” said Juan Carlos Soriano, a youth delegate from Peru, addressing the summit plenary. “This is unacceptable. We placed our trust in you. You should be ashamed.”

“Our rivers are drying up. Our crops are turning to dust. An unrelenting sun scorches our land while other areas are ravaged by storms and diseases,” said Esther Agbarakwe from Nigeria. “If developed countries set aside just 5% of their GNP for effective adaption by the most vulnerable countries, we will survive beyond 2050.”

“I came as a part of the Pacific youth delegation, but here I united with the Caribbean, the Maldivian, and the International Youth Climate Movement as a whole, calling out with one united voice for only 1.5 degrees of temperature rise and 350ppm of carbon concentration in the atmosphere”, said Krishneil Narayan from Fiji. “If the youth can unite as one movement at COP-15, we expect the leaders deciding our future to do the same, and deliver a legal binding treaty to ensure our survival.

Youth are calling for a Fair, Ambitious, Binding deal in Copenhagen, to avoid catastrophic climate change and ensure the survival of current and future generations, that:
  • Ensures Climate Justice
  • Limits global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 °C
  • Reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide levels back down to 350 PPM or lower
  • Commits developed countries to financing for adaptation of at least 5% GDP by 2020
  • Reduces the emissions of developed countries at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020

For more information, please contact:

Matthew Carroll, External Communications Coordinator, UNFCCC Youth Constituency, +45 5010 3621,

Thursday, December 10, 2009


10 December is "Young and Future Generations Day"; Highlights Youth Call for Climate Action

COPENHAGEN -- Hundreds of youth from around the world will celebrate “Young and Future Generations Day” with the UNFCCC at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference on Thursday, December 10. More than 1,000 young people from over 100 countries are attending the UN Climate Summit calling for bold climate leadership by their governments. Their collective vision is to protect their future and the lives of future generations threatened by climate change.

Organised in partnership between the YOUNGO (youth) constituency and the UNFCCC secretariat, Youth  and Future Generations Day seeks to send a powerful message of intergenerational equity to COP15 delegates, as well as highlighting the vital role of youth as both advocates for, and implementers of climate solutions. Highlights of the day will include an Intergenerational Inquiry with Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, as well as the launch of "Growing Together in a Changing Climate", a publication featuring efforts by youth and the UN to engage young people on climate issues. Side events through the day will showcase Youth and Student Movements' leadership on climate, the role of education, and youth voices on deforestation and degradation (REDD).

“Today’s youth will live their lives with the decisions made in Copenhagen, and our governments have a moral responsibility to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding deal”, said Prisca Randriamampihavana, a 20 year old youth delegate from Madagascar. "We want to ask world leaders, how old will you be in 2050?"

UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer adds that “Young people...have brought their energy and creativity to the intergovernmental process, demanding concrete action from their governments.”

The year 2009 has seen an explosion of youth climate advocacy, and the emergence of what many youth in Copenhagen are calling the “International Youth Climate Movement,” joining hundreds of youth organizations and climate advocates from around the world.   On 10 December, visit youth and youth organizations at the Youth Arcade and find out what they are already doing to tackle climate change and how you can engage with them on working towards solutions.

Esther Agbarakwe
Bella Center, Copenhagen.

Monday, December 7, 2009

HOPEnhagen! Conference of Youth at UN Climate Negociations.

After returning on November 24th 2009 home from the Schliersee Project  in Germany, full with energy, dreams,hope and inspiration I immediately began pursuing my plans on attending the biggest UN Conference on Climate Change, as one of African Youth delegate. I am here, in Copenhagen...HOPEnhaggen

Another major side event and the most important event for the youths is the  5th  Conference of Youth.(COY).  The event started on the 5th and ended on the 6th of December at Copenhagen University  with over 500 youth delegates in attendance. It  was aimed at building trust and solidarity among youth who will be attending COP15, and to share ideas, thoughts, successes and skills with each other. It also has the focus to build a truly global movement to stop the climate crisis.  The  Conference of Youth was so inspiring as the Global youth climate movement was TRULY Global for instance, Africa made History for having more 40 youths participants and over 150 youths from the global South. I am so happy too that for the 1st time many young Nigerians will be actively participating

As my dream plan project based on my Fellowship Program in Germany is on Green Education for Young people in Nigeria  to become environmental change makers in their local communities by taking action in local environmental service projects, being here was also inspiring and an opportunity to meet over 500 young persons from across the globe, to learn and share from each other. I am very Happy to be here. It a dream come true.

"Our destiny will be written by us...Youths are playing IMPORTANT role in the UN climate Negotiations. A struggle that began many years ago...This is the first time that the Global Youth movement is TRULY Global" This are the Words of Deepa, the founder of Indian Youth Climate Network.
Our strength is our passion and enthusiasm. We are strong. This is our future, this is our lives.

 ..But What does the principle of share, yet differentiated responsibility entails?

As explained to me, the principle of common, but differentiated responsibility remind us that in Rio de Janeiro 1992 the world recognized that we are facing common global problems, but that our capacities to respond and historical influence were different and that this had to be taken into consideration when setting commitments. Today, in Copenhagen, developed countries are trying to do away with the principle and are using it to put the burden on others.

The capacities of several developing countries and marginalized peoples and communities cannot respond to this burden and historical influence were different too; this has to be taken into consideration when setting commitments. Today, in Copenhagen, developed countries are trying to do away with the principle and are using it to put the burden on others as in the case of offsetting systems supported by carbon markets in developing countries.

In other words, developed countries in the negotiations are trying to twist the interpretation of the 'common but differentiated responsibilities" to mean slowly pass on the common challenges of humanity-- for which they are majorly responsible-- to those that have the least capacity.


Esther Agbarakwe
Copenhagen, Denmark.