Getting to Durban before COP17

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As an environmentalist, I am constantly watching for my carbon footprint and faced with the hypocrisy and irony of flying and accounting to enormous levels of greenhouse gases every time I am on an airplane.   So flying that far is not to be proud of, especially when I am saying:  I am flying over 30 hours to attend climate negotiations.

So I arrived to Durban few days ago, but couldn’t publish this earlier due to the unreliable internet connection.

The irony and hypocrisy is tremendous, it is true. However, it is also true that governments cannot be trusted to shape our future. The already questionable decisions reached in international meetings would be a lot worse have they not been monitored by the youth and civil society.

I debated my reasons to go to Durban multiple times before and after I decided to go as part of the Canadian Youth Delegation and I have already established that it is 75% personal interest and only 25% benefit for the broader cause of influencing the negotiations, and realising climate justice.

The youth and civil society presence creates a different dynamics in these negotiations. For example, the Canadian government’s negotiating team has already committed to meet with Canadian youth and civil society on a daily basis to hear our demands and give us the space to ask questions and challenge our government’s unwise decisions. As the delegation, we might be close to securing a meeting with the Environmental Minister.

Many, including myself, would rightfully question the effectiveness of this. However, it is one step closer to transparency. The government is meant to be “negotiating on behalf of Canadians” but only Canadian corporations and oil companies being consulted prior to that.

Furthermore, I believe that Canadians deserve to know what is going on in these negotiations. It is very important that someone reports back home on what goes on behind the closed doors of meeting halls in these negotiations.  With all due respect to the media and fellow reporters and journalists, very few are actually climate specialists and have enough background about climate change science, previous negotiations and agreements and understand well the dynamics within these conferences.

I would even go further to say, our reporting would complement and balance what the mainstream reports by shedding some lights on what they will not say and rarely touch on.

I believe that this is an experience that will strengthen my journalism skills as I plan to report on the events as objectively as possible while remaining faithful to the whole story. At the same time, it is crucially important for me that people realize the seriousness of climate change and the implications the outcomes of these negotiations have on our shared planet.

I think this is mainly why I am in Durban. I believe even before COP starts that watching these negotiations so close up will have a great impact on me personally. I anticipate an overdose of information that will cause me outraging frustration and anger, overwhelming support and solidarity as well moments of weakness and hopelessness.

Hence, my most crucial and difficult task is going to be to deal with this level of conflicting emotions and overcome it. To me my trip to Durban would have served its purpose if it increases my knowledge in the areas that I am not as familiar with and gave me a push to come back with even stronger convictions and a desire to educate and impact change in every possible way, something I owe to myself, other youth and all those who encouraged me to go to Durban.

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