Greenpeace Youth Hit the Ground in Copenhagen

by Ruth Morrison

November 29, 2009

Two days after the White House made its announcement that President Obama would, after all, be headed to Copenhagen — and just one day after America celebrated the gifts of turkey, potatoes, and sauced cranberries — three Greenpeace student leaders and I boarded planes headed across the Atlantic. An international team of youth activists and Greenpeace staff had likewise journeyed from their homes in over a dozen other countries to meet one another in this incredibly lively city.

In addition to the usual exciting fare of a European capital city (fountains, statues, and bustling pedestrian streets), Copenhagen this month offers a massive international gathering of thousands of world leaders, scientists, policy experts, media mavens, and environmental and social justice activists. The COP15 international climate negotiations will begin here in one week in what is likely to be the largest environmental gathering in history. As the start of the negotiations nears, what felt like a high level of anticipation back home in the States has reached a fever pitch here in Denmark.

tcktcktck, greenpeace billboard in Copenhagen

Exiting the plane that brought me to my first breaths of Danish air, I was presented with a stream of billboards, all carrying the visage of one or another head of state. Angela Merkl of Germany, Gordon Brown of Britain, and the one above — all bearing the haunting message that we could have stopped climate disasters but we failed. A seemingly pessimistic message, but it suggests the very real tipping point in which we, as a global community, find ourselves this week.

In Copenhagen in 2009, we could literally make or break the future of this planet. If we commit to a fair, ambitious, and binding treaty that sets science-based targets on CO2 reduction, we could build a new global economy based on renewable energy and sustainable business. But if we bow to industry pressure and political cowardice, we could seal our sometimes metaphorical and sometimes terrifyingly literal coffins, as a world whose climate is spinning out of control.

Perhaps motivated by such precipitous stakes, the assembled team of international Greenpeace youth leaders is incredibly energized. Nevermind the jetlag, rain, or adjustment to colder, darker weather, this is a crew of inspired, creative, and damn intelligent youth. We are here not only to send a message to the negotiating teams that are beginning to trickle in to the city, but also to the world: This is our future that’s on the table, our climate that’s at risk. And though it’s the decision of a powerful few, we will be present, we will be heard, and we will hold these talks accountable to the future we deserve.

Here’s how you can get involved with these efforts, because we need your help:

1. Join the 40,000 + Americans that have already signed their names to a petition telling President Obama that it’s time to sign a fair, ambitious, and binding treaty.
2. Follow our work here on the Greenpeace USA blog as well as on the Student Network Facebook page.
3. We are also tweeters! So follow us @GreenpeaceSN to get up to the minute details.

We’ll be updating all throughout the lead up to the talks as well as inside the conference itself.

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