Should we as Youth put our trust in those older than us? Do we have a choice?

Yvo de Boer

This is a question that I’ve been inspired to think about during the last few days.  The young woman from India who addressed the  UN climate chief Yvo de Boer on behalf of the youth yesterday ended her powerful, inspiring speech by imploring negotiators to come to agreement on strong, binding emissions reduction targets. The world is trusting in the negotiators to come to an agreement that might protect our brothers and sisters in low lying island, those in areas threatened by desertification and water scarcity and in general, our future generations. De Boer replied that he was worried she was being too free with her trust. Trust must be earned he said, and by the looks of it, our negotiators have not earned our trust yet. Was that a fair reaction?

Part of me wishes she had straightforwardly said, hey listen I don’t trust you but I deeply respect the power you currently hold and I realize that I am at your mercy…to a certain extent. Personally, I don’t put much trust in these negotiations, and I fear they are far to simplistic to make an powerful difference. We have placed the context of our futures in the hands of world leaders, while at the same time that compressed and condensed the world’ challenges into the package of several small but powerful gases. We are talking about our futures in terms of carbon dioxide and methane gas instead of clean waters and clean air, healthy foods and ecosystems, or vibrant and strong communities. Our problem is not carbon dioxide. Our relationship with the planet and ourselves is the problem. Trying to change industries and reduce emissions is incredibly important, but until we change our desires, our values, the way we interact with one another and the way we inhabit this planet, I have little faith in the ability of our leaders to protect us. We are responsible for protecting each other from the upcoming catastrophes. Being at the COP has impressed upon me just how divided we are about the problem we all agree upon.

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