COP15 Reflections: A New Movement for the Next Generation

By Leslie Fields

Climate change is the issue of our generation. While there are great challenges, there are also phenomenal opportunities. This issue should bind earth’s peoples together regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, clan/tribe, gender, age, ability, religion, economic status, etc. This issue should provide opportunities to alleviate the world’s ills due to capitalism, consumerism and exploitation based abovementioned realities. This issue should drive sustainable lifestyles based on new technologies and economic opportunities. This issue should make everyone understand that earth’s ecosystem is fragile and not infinite.

Instead, the organizers of COP15, just at the moment of when more people (particularly in the NGO community) became involved-from all over world, the organizers saw fit to limit access. Just at the moment when young people got truly energized by an issue that will define their generation, the organizers and host government cracked down on public participation in brutal ways. On the first through third day of the second week, many registered participants stood in line outside in the freezing cold for up to eight hours just to get into the Bella Conference Center. Access to the official conference center was increasingly limited every day. While the words accountability and transparency were thrown around and are expected to be complied by certain governments—the conference organizers operated in no such way and should be held accountable.

The deal announced demonstrates the U.S. is facing in the right direction and is at least engaged (again). This deal, however, will prove to be too late for countries already suffering from catastrophic effects of climate change. This deal will only mean something if those of us in the U.S., who are engaged in this issue, up our engagement levels. We must truly commit to sustainable lifestyles ourselves and work hard to educate, advocate and fight with those in our communities who are also suffering catastrophic effects of climate change. We have the power to make the change with our government. We have the power to lead so that the U.S. will lead. African Americans are in a unique position to once again be the vanguard of a movement that will change history.

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