Fight For Climate Justice: Eric Mbotji’s Story

By Morgan Taylor Peterson, MPH

Eric Mbotji

Eric Mbotji

Fellow Care About Climate and Climate Sign user, Eric Mbotiji is an inspiring individual who continues to show his fierce love for the sustainable ecotourism, the environment and the protection of the planet for future generations. Eric is a fellow climate advocate, who also trains young people to serve as advocates. He continuously encourages young people to fight for climate justice by planting trees within their communities. Along with this he organizes tree planting days in order to get communities to think globally and act locally.  

This story shows how Eric was taken as a Prisoner of War for 20 days while protesting deforestation in Cameroon.  Most of Cameroon’s forests are located within the southern part of the country and much of the deforestation is occurring in the southwest. These forests are what we can call a hot-spot” of biodiversity. Within the rainforests are housed some of the oldest and most unique woodlands in the world containing 620 species of trees and bushes and around 500 different herbs and lianas. There are many causes of deforestation in Cameroon that are extremely complex and have changed over the years. According to Eric, the major causes to this deforestation is agricultural expansion and general land use management. However, what does this mean for air quality, environmental health, and human health?

In late 2016, the armed conflicts began to arise as a result of the marginalization of English-speaking minorities by the French-speaking majority in Cameroon. As a fellow climate change advocate, Eric became very concerned about the wellbeing of internally displaced citizens as well as the devasting effects of climate change. Before this crisis and conflicts, Eric was an educator who trained young people from primary, secondary, and high schools in Bamenda as Climate Justice Ambassadors with support from the Plant for the Planet Academy. Around 60 young people were trained and educated on the importance of planting trees and the effects of climate change. Due to the overall success of this training process, this training was taken further to various campuses across the region, where students and young people planted trees, designed gardens, and school orchards. 

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With the upcoming conflicts, Eric witnessed citizens cutting down trees and forests illegally to sell, use as firewood, and for other uses. From a climate change prospective this did not sit right with Eric, because he had advocated for so long with local town councils in order to establish policies geared towards getting families to plant trees as one of the requirements for the establishment of a birth certificate. This became a community effort for couples to plant trees in their communities after having a newborn. However, due to the conflict and government crisis affecting the country, the council was not functional, because of the burning of government buildings and insecurities. Due to this, citizens began cutting down the trees in the region.


As a climate advocate and protector of the environment, Eric and 10 other volunteers moved about in the villages of Santa, Bali, and Bafut to protest the illegal deforestation caused by other citizens in order to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and deforestation. As a result of this protest, Eric was abducted by a Nonstate Armed Resistance group for almost three weeks. Eric pleaded with the resistance group to not take the other volunteers and to just take him alone with them. The group accepted these terms and held Eric captive in three different camps with different leaders for questioning.

Eric was accused of being a government spy, because the group that kidnapped him had declared themselves as pro-independent fighters. After one week of torture and questioning, Eric fell seriously ill, sustained substantial injuries, and was only fed once a day with hardly any water. After weeks of convincing, Eric was finally able to talk about what he was really doing, talk about being a climate advocate, the effects of cutting down forests and trees, and why these trees are important for the environment. After three long weeks, Eric was finally set free, however, due to dehydration and his injuries, he spent a week in the hospital to recuperate.

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Even after all that he has been through, Eric is glad he was able to organize these campaigns to bring awareness to the illegal cutting of trees and the effects of climate change. Eric believed this was the best way to contribute to the fight against climate change in his community and will continue to advocate and educate his community through the planting of trees. In the past, Eric has inspired many young people to cultivate gardens at their homes, recycle waste from homes, and transform it into compost, manure, and biogas. Eric has always been an advocate for environment and continues to train young people to care about the environment.

After a few weeks of, Eric already has his next project in sight, which is to support the internally displaced households with solar lamps, in order for children to do their school assignments at night and be able to carry out other household duties. Eric is also creating a psychosocial support group for young people who have been affected by the conflicts and crisis in Cameroon. This support group creates a way for these young people to heal through social traveling and hiking in order to “Connect to Nature”. Eric hopes that this travel program will be meaningful and help heal some of the trauma caused by war, as he himself, has experienced.

I love advocating for the environment and planting trees is my own way” – Eric Mbotiji

I love advocating for the environment and planting trees is my own way” – Eric Mbotiji

Check out more photos of Eric’s work and volunteerism below! 


The Strange & Difficult Journey Navegating a UNFCCC Summit

By Alvaro Alfaro Morales

Curriculum Director for OYE & COY15 General Coordinator

Flying over the Andes Mountains. In some areas, the snowcaps are disappearing.

Flying over the Andes Mountains. In some areas, the snowcaps are disappearing.

I’m sitting on a plane thinking, en route to the UNFCCC Intersessionals, thinking of all I have to accomplish in a short space of two weeks. At least my seatmate is a kind lady and any babies on board are sleeping peacefully. I have a quiet space to think. 

The first hours of the trip are spent soaring above Chile. Looking out the window, it is possible to see, to the far north of the country, how dry everything is. As you pass over the semi-arid zone, you can even see some reservoirs that- once filled- are mearly filled to half of their capacity at best. Then, comes the always majestic, mesmerizing Andes Mountains. Mountains, seemingly endless, with less snow each time I pass over them. Why is that again? Oh, yeah! That’s why I’m on this journey. 


Next is a quick pass over Argentina, and then many hours passing over Brazil, one of the countries that keeps us alive. Brazil could become a billionaire country if they decided to cut down their forests to sell the timber, but for now they have decided to be the lungs of the world. And maybe they deserve an award or payment for their efforts. And I don’t mean the miserable carbon credit system, No! I mean something real. This part of the flight is beautiful, where we pass over the Amazon, forests, cropland, grasslands and all the green of the country that gives us hope that we still have time to save the world. 

And then we begin the long journey over the Atlantic, where the only thought is “can we please get back over solid land!”… and... that “one day, I would like to see it up close”, studying the marine life that is still living despite the competition each time more unfair against the plastic.

And then, without much fanfare, there appears Europe. The land that once was the most contaminating place on earth, yet now raises its voice to tell everyone that it is time to change, and aspires to be the leader of this change. Here, above Germany, I think about just how real those words and promises might be. 

As I walk out the doors of the airport onto German soil, I find a train station, that leaves me but 10 minutes walking distance from my lodging. There are thousands of people moving through the city of Bonn on bicycle, and trains that reach to nearly every corner of the country, if you know which transfers to take. 

My first surprise of this country that tries to be green, is the public transportation system, sustaining a system of light rail, electric busses, and the old Euro VI. 

My second surprise is the amount of green space and trees in every corner of the city. Here in Bonn, there is an infinite park that runs all along the shoreline of the Rhine.

My third surprise is how many colors of bins there are to separate their garbage. Between the drawings, a decent Englishman, and some very kind Germans, I figured out how to properly separate, classify and subclassify the waste so that it could be recycled and not end up in a landfill. Germany is one of the countries that recycles the most in the world. I think the UNFCCC has picked a good residency. 

Can’t help but smiling when public transportation is this easy!

Can’t help but smiling when public transportation is this easy!

But anyways, enough with surprises, enough with marveling at the journey, it’s time to work! Time to remember what we have to do! A day of policy training begins. There are Yugratna, Jonas, Clara, Heeta, Serena, an excessive number of people called Sarah or Sara, and many other empowered young people, men are 40%, women the other 60% or maybe more.

Yugratna and Clara had started to speak, listened to them attentively, in one day, I have learned more about diplomacy, climate change, protocols and partnerships, treaties and articles of the Paris agreement, than I have learned over the past year. My gratitude to them is deep, they have made me a better environmentalist in one day.

Enter Jonas, explain systems, ways to participate in negotiations, and what is the place of young people in them, has a deep knowledge of specific points. 

And then I know something that months ago I saw as distant, I know YOUNGO, the official constitution of young people in front of the UNFCCC, a horizontal collective, where there are people from many different organizations, some who go out to pick up garbage, others who reforest, others who care for animals, others who work in environmental education (I feel at home), and many others.

With all the above, I understand that young people are active, we are prepared, and we are in action, the COY15 will be part of something much bigger than it. It will be part of the struggle, it will be part of the work, it will be part of a whole, that seeks to save the world, I understand that to navigate, this world of the UNFCCC can row with others, and I devote myself to that task with full enthusiasm.

That evening, my colleague arrives. Bernardita, an intelligent and diligent engineering student, is a big help for an education graduate like myself. Essential for the hard management and deliberations over numbers and budgets. Together, we have come to SB50 to launch the 15th Conference of Youth, or COY15. 

COY15 serves to prepare the youth with the proper skills to effectively participate in the negotiations, develop their capacities to create solutions to climate change, and to share best practices, experiences and life lessons. But above all, COY15 looks to bring the youth to action, and to keep up the motion of those who are already acting. I heard a great diplomat say “Some adults have fallen in love with the negotiations, but the youth pursue results”. 

And then, with all of the above I entered SB50, the intersectionals, the mid-year conference, which tries to ensure that the Paris agreement is complied with, and to be an effective bridge between a COP and what happens to it, moving from Poland to Chile is the task. And then what?

In the following blog, the vision of the negotiations and the participation of young people.

Lanzamiento de la 15ta Conferencia Anual de la Juventud (Espanol)



21 de junio de 2019

BONN, ALEMANIA.- Los miembros de YOUNGO, la circunscripción oficial de la juventud a la UNFCCC, anunciaron hoy, junto con representantes de las presidencias de la COP24 y la COP25, el lanzamiento de la 15ta Conferencia Anual de la Juventud.

La COY15 dará la bienvenida a 2.000 jóvenes de todo el mundo a la ciudad patrimonio de la humanidad de La UNESCO, en Valparaíso, Chile, del 28 al 30 de noviembre para la conferencia anual de YOUNGO.

En esta conferencia de tres días, jóvenes de todo el mundo intercambiarán experiencias, conocimientos y mejores prácticas para fortalecer el Movimiento Internacional por el Clima Juvenil e involucrar a las próximas generaciones en el desarrollo de soluciones y acciones climáticas.

Nos gustaría extender nuestra invitación a unirse a nosotros este mes de noviembre. Le daremos el honor de recibirle en la Universidad Federico Santa María, una de las universidades más prestigiosas del país, con vistas al dilema climático del Océano Pacífico más allá de la históricamente importante bahía de Valparaíso.

Alvaro Alfaro Morales, uno de los coordinadores generales para el evento dijo, “Los jóvenes pueden liderar un cambio que rompe los patrones del pasado y coloca al mundo en un futuro más sostenible y en un planeta más resiliente. Y juntos empoderaremos a los jóvenes para un nuevo estándar de acción sobre el cambio climático en las comunidades locales y globales.”

Facilitadora: Yugratna Srivastava, YOUNGO BLT


Sr. Niclas Svenningsen, UNFCCC

Sr. Cristián Varela, Presidencia de COP25 

Sr. Andrés Landerretche, Presidencia de COP25

Srta. Serena Bashal, YOUNGO

Srta. Clara Von Gaslow, YOUNGO COY WG

Sr. Alvaro Alfaro Morales, Equipo COY15 

Srta. Bernardita Castillo, Equipo COY15 

Para obtener más información, póngase en contacto con:

COY15 Coordinación de Comunicaciones por correo electrónico –

Para sus sitios web de noticias y redes sociales: El contenido multimedia y los mensajes clave relacionados con nuestros comunicados de prensa estarán disponibles en los canales de medios sociales de COY15, que se enumeran a continuación. Por favor, etiquétenos usando las etiquetas apropiadas:

Instagram: COYCHILE    Twitter: COY15CL   Facebook: COY15CL   Hashtag: #COY15CL 


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15th Annual Conference of Youth Launches (English)



June 21, 2019

Bonn, Germany. Members of YOUNGO, the official youth constituency to the UNFCCC announced today, alongside representatives from the COP24 and COP25 presidencies, the 15th annual Conference of Youth Launch.

COY15 will welcome 2,000 youth from around the world to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Valparaíso, Chile, from 28th to 30th November, 2019 for YOUNGO’s annual conference. 

“We would like to extend our invitation to join us this November. We will honored to receive you at The Federico Santa María University, one of the most prestigious universities in the country, overlooking the the Pacific Ocean beyond the historically important bay of Valparaíso.” said Finance Coordinator, Bernardita Castillo. 

In this three day conference, youth from around the world will exchange experiences, knowledge and best practices to strengthen the International Youth Climate Movement and involve next generations in developing climate solutions and actions. 

Young people can lead a change that breaks the patterns of the past and places the world in a more sustainable future and a more resilient planet. And together we will empower youth for a new standard of action on climate change in local and global communities.

Alvaro Alfaro Morales, one of two General Coordinators for the event said, “What characterizes us as a Chilean society is our resilience, that capacity to move forward, helping each other to stand up again.... For this reason, this year’s event will be designed to empower youth for a new standard of action on climate change in local and global communities.”


Facilitator: Yugratna Srivastava, YOUNGO BLT


Mr. Niclas Svenningsen, UNFCCC

Mr. Cristián Varela, COP25 Presidency

Mr. Andrés Landerretche,  COP25 Presidency

Ms. Serena Bashal, YOUNGO

Ms. Clara Von Gaslow, YOUNGO COY WG

Mr. Alvaro Alfaro Morales, COY15 Team

Ms. Bernardita Castillo, COY15 Team

For your news websites and social media: Multimedia content & key messages relating to our news releases will available on COY15 social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles: 

Instagram: COYCHILE    Twitter: COY15CL   Facebook: COY15CL   Hashtag: #COY15CL

For more information, please contact: Constanza Riquelme – 


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COP25: Chile

On March 7th, the UNFCCC Secretariat announced that Chile will be hosting COP25 on December 2nd-13th of 2019. While the exact venue has yet to be decided, the event will be hosted in Chile's capital city of Santiago. This announcement was important because the date of the next conference of the parties has been up in the air since Brazil rescinded their bid to host.

The Chilean government has had some exceptional environmental policies over the past few years. Under Former President Michelle Bachelet's administration, they approved the Energia 2050 policy, a framework document for transitioning their electricity grid to 70% Renewable Energy by 2050. They have taken steps to create new ecological preserves- most notably Marine Sanctuaries in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and the Juan Fernandez Archipelago. Together with Kristen Thompkins, who's husband founded The North Face apparel company, they were able to add 13,000 hectares to create the Network of Patagonia National Parks in 2018. Just last month, Chile rolled out their Plastic Bag Ban on all major retailers in the country. Small Businesses have another year to find alternatives to plastic. Electric buses and newly marked bike lanes throughout Santiago also are expected to help the country to meet their NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) of de-coupling economic development from carbon emissions.

This COP is expected to showcase a lot of the progress the Chile has made, and hopefully create replicable examples for other countries of renewable energy policies that they can bring home to create equitable and environmentally sustainable energy sources. This could also become another Ocean COP, as COP23 was under the Fijian Presidency, given Chile has 4,270km of coastline.

At COP23, I had the opportunity to meet with the Chilean Delegation, hear some of their goals, and attend a panel discussion where Former Minister of the Environment Marcelo Mena shared about Chile's forestry preservation policies. I believe that we are very fortunate to have a country as organized and progressive as Chile hosting this 25th Conference of the Parties, the 25th meeting since the Rio Earth Summit where it all began. The Chilean government has taken great strides to protect it's natural spaces and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals. At this Silver Jubilee COP, Chile hopes to be a strong leader that carries the parties towards a more meaningful commitment to achieving "well below 2.0" going into the first Global Stocktake in 2020. 

-Sarah Voska, Online Youth Exchange Director


New hopes for climate change mitigation in international shipping?

On Monday (03.12.), the first day of COP24, the side event “Achieving the IMO GHG Reduction objectives: fossil fuels, climate change and economic development” shed light on the new Initial Strategy of the IMO (International Maritime Organization) to reduce CO2 emissions. The session included a panel with speakers from IMO, the industry and academia.

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To date, over 80% of worldwide goods are traded via shipping. Emissions of the shipping sector contributed with 2.2% to global greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 (Smith et al., 2015), whereas about 80% result from international activities. This share of emissions is expected to grow as demand for shipping will likely continue to increase in future due to increasing globalisation and economic development.

In spring 2018, the IMO adopted an Initial Strategy on the reduction of GHGs (MEPC, 2018). The strategy entails different levels of ambition. Firstly, emissions should peak as soon as possible and total GHG emissions should be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while pursuing efforts to phasing them out entirely. The phase-out should happen as soon as possible this century in line with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. Secondly, average carbon intensity (CO2 per transport work) should be reduced by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050 compared to 2008. The Initial Strategy is in the context of the approval of a roadmap (2017-2023) for developing a “comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships” (IMO, 2018, p.18). The adoption of a Revised IMO Strategy is planned for 2023 (IMO, 2018).

While the roadmap roughly outlines what could be done, the side event at COP was not only about presenting the Initial Strategy but also about what concrete measures could be adopted to reduce emissions from ships.

According to Edmund Hughes, one of the panellist working for IMO, the Strategy was a “major step forward” but that alternative fuels (biofuels, synthetic fuels like ammonia and hydrogen) and technological innovation is necessary to achieve the goals of the initial IMO strategy. A delegate from Japan highlighted the problems for decarbonizing the sector but also gave interesting examples of operational and technical measures to be applied in the short- and mid-term. In the final presentation of Dr. Tristan Smith from the University College London, it became clear that also in the shipping sector the disparities between developed and developing countries are present and need to be considered, especially when market-based measures and carbon pricing are discussed.



MEPC. (2018). INITIAL IMO STRATEGY ON REDUCTION OF GHG EMISSIONS FROM SHIPS. MEPC72, Resolution MEPC 72/17/Add.1 483, Published 13.04.2018. Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).Available:

SMITH, T., JALKANEN, J., ANDERSON, B., CORBETT, J., FABER, J., HANAYAMA, S., O'KEEFFE, E., PARKER, S., JOHANASSON, L. & ALDOUS, L. (2015). Third IMO GHG Study 2014. London: International Maritime Organization.

A Layman's Guide to withdrawing from the Paris Agreement

What is Article 28 of the Paris Agreement, and why does it matter?

Article 28 of the Paris Agreement describes the process through which Parties may withdraw from the agreement. To withdraw, a Party must give written notification and may do this no earlier than three years after the Agreement entered into force for the Party. Additionally, the withdrawal does not take effect until one year after notice. Any Party withdrawing from the UNFCCC will also be automatically withdrawn from the Paris Agreement.

How does this affect the United States?

So far, the United States is the only UNFCCC member who has declared its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. President Donald Trump’s stated intent to withdraw makes the content of Article 28 important in the next few months. President Trump made this declaration in June of 2017 and lack of public familiarity with the details of the Paris Agreement and incomplete reporting may have led many to believe that around that time, the Agreement no longer applied to the United States. However, since the Agreement did not go into effect until November 4, 2016, the earliest the United States could completely withdraw is November 4, 2020. The next United States presidential election takes one day earlier, November 3, 2020, so should President Trump not be reelected, there will be no official international change with regard to the Paris Agreement throughout most of the Trump presidency.

Does President Trump have the authority to withdraw the United States?

There are multiple pathways through which the United States can enter into or withdraw from international agreements. While treaties require approval from two-thirds of the Senate in accordance with Article II of the United States Constitution, lower level agreements may be entered into through approval of the President alone, which is called an executive agreement. This is the method through which President Barack Obama entered the United States into the Paris Agreement and while this interpretation of the Constitution is debated by strict constructionists, it is unlikely President Trump would be prevented from following the same process to withdraw from the Agreement.

Written by Sydney Welter, a COP24 Delegation Candidate with Care About Climate

NABU, a German NGO protecting the climate to preserve biodiversity

The NABU (Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V or Nature and Biodiversity Union) was founded in 1899 as the “association for bird protection”. After the reunion of Western and Eastern Germany, it merged with former Eastern German nature protection associations. Today, the NABU has around 660,000 members and donors, and thus belongs to the biggest environmental organization or NGOs in Germany. The NABU has regional and local groups, nature centers, a youth association, a magazine, and much more. The thematic areas of work are species and nature protection as well as environmental issue and resource use. In terms of climate change, the NABU promotes energy efficiency, energy savings and renewable energies in harmony with nature on the national level. It reviews the climate protection plans of the EU and Germany and is involved in Germany’s “Energiewende” (away from coal and nuclear power) and the transformation of the transport sector.

International work on climate

Besides its focus on national and regional nature conservation, the NABU has a few international projects which focus on nature conservation but do have considerable overlaps with for example climate protection or social aspects. For example, there are projects in Africa and Asia to conserve forests and peatlands whose ability to store carbon needs to be preserved.

The NABU has been sending a small delegation to the COPs of the UNFCCC since the early 2000s. The NABU has an accredited observer status and participates in the COPs to promote its values and highlight the need for climate protection to protect biodiversity. The latter stems from the nature conservation focus of the NABU.

At the COP, the NABU engages with different delegations to discuss what they feel should be considered during the negotiations. Of course, the NABU meets with the German delegations, especially from the environmental committee, but also with delegations from other countries. The NABU benefits from being a member in two networks: firstly in “Birdlife International” and secondly in “CAN” (Climate Action Network). Both networks are important to arrange delegation meetings and to receive information during the sessions about the ongoing negotiations. As there are many plenary sessions and informal meetings regarding various agenda items taking place during the intersessionals and the COPs, it is very difficult to keep up with the negotiations. Without the networks, the small COP team from the NABU wouldn’t be able to have an overview of what is going on, or fully understand how they can contribute. Other tasks for the NGO during the COP are public relations work to keep the debate in Germany running and participating in or co-organizing side events. The NABU will also be present at COP24 in Katowice, Poland this year.

Want to learn more? Find NABU online at their website or on Twitter @nabu_klima

This article was written by COP24 Delegation Candidate Nora Wissner, based on an interview with Sebastian Scholz—team coordinator for energy and climate at NABU. Photo by Sebastian Scholz at the Climate Change Negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

Green Your Scene: make your local food event more sustainable

St. Louis Earth Day's Recycling on the Go Program

St. Louis Earth Day's Recycling on the Go Program

Are you involved in event planning for a local government or organization? Do you have a burning desire to be more sustainable and have less of an impact on the planet? Are you simply a citizen who cares? Look no further! Here are some simple ways to make your event more earth-friendly.

  1. Discourage (or ban) the use of styrofoam and plastic

    Yes, styrofoam is cheap--but its environmental costs are very high. Styrofoam can stay in an environment for over a million years, and can choke unsuspecting animals when it breaks down. Consider having your vendors change to dishwear made of compostable, renewable materials--like bamboo or plant fiber. Even plain-old cardboard or paper dishes (as long as they are not dyed or laminated) can go into most composting facilities.

    Plastic, like styrofoam, stays in the environment for ages--and it never truly decomposes, instead breaking down into smaller and smaller plastic particles. Have vendors skip lids and straws, and use things like bamboo skewers instead of plastic cutlery. Consider introducing an incentive program, encouraging citizens to bring their own utensils, straws, and cups in exchange for a free drink coupon, discounted food, or entry into a raffle for a fun sustainable prize (reusable shopping bags, anyone?).

  2. Introduce three-stream waste sorting: compost, recycling, and landfill

    Easy-peasy! Just add an extra bin for food scraps and those handy compostable plates you just ordered and divert nearly everything at your event away from landfills.

  3. Place all recycling and composting bins next to a garbage bin

    One of the biggest causes of waste contamination is laziness--and when people see a recycling bin but no trash bin, guess where their half-eaten soft pretzel is going? That’s right, straight into the recycling bin, likely contaminating that entire bag’s worth of recyclables. Many waste collection agencies also charge a fee for contaminated recycling and compost bins, so this is something you definitely want to avoid. This tip also extends into any office, home, or other place you might go!

  4. Worried about the public contaminating the compost? Introduce waste-sorting stations!

    Rather than scattering bins across your site, have a few well-marked (and staffed) stations with trained volunteers to ensure proper sorting. Worried about funding? Reach out to local green non-profits for volunteers, offering them a booth or poster space to advertise their own mission and events, or enter volunteers into a raffle based on how long they work the station.

  5. Don’t provide single-use plastic water bottles

    Encourage citizens to use their own water bottles and cups brought from home (perhaps introducing an incentive system like in tip #1. Make sure to provide well-marked and maintained water refill stations, using public drinking fountains or encouraging food stations to provide coolers with ice water. This can build sustainable habits in individuals for the future!  

  6. Encourage vendors to use local seasonal produce, and provide exciting vegetarian and vegan options that aren’t just a side of veggies

    Flying in ingredients from across the world can be exciting and provide a lot of variety--but can also create a huge carbon footprint for your event. Challenge your vendors to use ingredients that not only minimize this impact, but support your local economy. Improve this further by encouraging plant-based proteins as the basis for dishes, which decreases land and water use, in some cases using 10x fewer resources.

Some of these solutions have a higher price tag than their less sustainable counterparts, and it can be difficult to change the status quo. But the rewards of being a leader and inspiring local citizens to live sustainably can be tremendous--and why not work towards a better world while we still can?

If you aren't in charge of any events with food, reach out to organizations who are and lend them your ideas. Citizen input is valuable and can go a long way. If you don't have time to type out all of your ideas, just send them this post! Now, go! Make the world a better place! 


Have any tips of your own? Have you done work personally to make your community more eco-friendly? Reach out to us here or on social media for a chance to have your ideas featured with us here at Care About Climate.

Meet Maddi Bailey

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Maddi Bailey is the newest member and current fundraising intern for Care About Climate. She is a senior at Saint Louis University, where she studies environmental science and Spanish. Although Maddi is new to the Care About Climate mission, she became interested in environmental advocacy at a fairly young age.  

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At fourteen she travelled to Cozumel, where she began learning about the hazards of non-environmentally conscious scuba diving, and the effects the sport can have on the oceans’ ecosystems. She developed a growing sense of urgency to protect the ocean’s rapidly declining coral reef population and to spread the word about the ways climate change can perpetuate their deterioration. Climate change affects our oceans in more ways than one, and making changes in human behavior to decrease our carbon footprint is the first step to reducing this impact.

Since then, Maddi has been interested in increasing her own environmental consciousness and that of the community around her. She believes awareness is a pivotal factor in forming solutions around climate change, and hopes to be a part of educating people around the world through her work with Care About Climate. As the organization’s fundraising intern, Maddi aims to get people in the St. Louis community excited about Care About Climate’s mission and the efforts that go into making our mission successful. After she finishes her undergraduate degree at SLU, she plans to continue her work with Care About Climate as a climate ambassador, where she can be a catalyst for the movement on an international level.



Eric Mbotji’s Journey in Empowering the Youth

This inspiring involvement comes from an individual who is part of the Online Youth Exchange. During this program, Eric,  worked with others  to discuss environmental issues, doing comparative studies, and became informed of the realities faced in other countries. Most importantly, there is a great deal of discussing solutions. Attached is Eric’s solution to empowering the youth by teaching them that challenges can be transformed into opportunities!

Eric Mbotiji,  a youth  leader  from Cameroon,  took a trip to the northern region of his country to find out about the situation  of the primary school education and these are the images he brought (attached below). There were children sitting  on stones to learn. The class rooms are made of thatch grass and the unbearable  heat from the sun makes learning not conducive. I was told by the head mistress  of this school  that when there are torrential rain fall,  it blows away  he thatch class rooms  and this makes learning  not consistent.  My dream has always  been to put in place libraries  in these schools  encourage readership  and research among pupils.”

Inspired by this story, Eric went on to help the children and young adults maximize their potentials, build life, and most of all, build a legacy! 

Attached you will find pictures of young people  in Cameroon on an adventurous journey to the water falls in Bambili.  They went out to connect with nature,  experience  it’s glory,  have fun and learn about the 17 SDGS of the United Nations.  During this time they  learned a lot of skills,  on team building,  communication  and advocacy.  They were led on this journey  by a seasoned  youth leader Eric Mbotiji. He is the brain  behind the program  to inspire young people  to get fresh inspiration from  nature.  He is one of the coordinators of the Duke of Edinburgh International Awards Cameroon  and chapter president for  Net Impact Bamenda Professional Chapter.  He says on every adventure journey, “they always learn something  new and equally  learn new ways of advocating  for the environment.”

International Involvement in REDD+

December 10, 2017

A critical analysis of a regime and the importance of global cooperation

Problem Statement and Overview

A general lack of resources and funding, heavy reliance on forest resources to sustain livelihoods, and the overall increasing global threat of climate change deepens the complexity of tropical deforestation and land degradation. Most deforestation is taking place in South tropical regions, making it one of the leading causes of climate change (Park et. al). The agreement of REDD+ reflected “win-win” results for developed and developing countries alike (Hufty et. al), but there has been criticism from local communities who believe this mechanism will override their rights to forests or make their rights inequitable. The involvement of leading developed countries in REDD+ is paving the way for smaller countries to follow, but in order to successfully exercise forest conservation and sustainable management whilst avoiding backlash from locally marginalized groups, identifying trade-offs before implementation will ensure the inclusion of multi-stakeholder perspectives necessary in global environmental policy.

In this analysis, the focus is on the importance of international cooperation to combat deforestation in the global regime of climate change and how the UNFCCC’s REDD+ is currently addressing the “common but differentiated” responsibilities of developed and developing countries. With more than 100 REDD+ projects administered around the world, this paper focuses on two studies: one which analyzed five developed countries who are actively participating in building their global REDD+ regime and another study that analyzed 80+ projects in mostly developing countries to conclude what strategies have been successful in achieving REDD+ goals. Results indicated that implemented strategies depended on the countries’ respective perspectives and interests, yet some lacked specificity in terms of the “plus” goals of REDD. Furthermore, there is a fear of stolen property rights from local communities, indigenous people, and women and giving developed countries an opportunity to back out of their personal climate change reduction goals. Therefore, a transnational dialogue between all levels of civil society is necessary to successfully build the global regime of REDD+.


Annually, 13 million hectares of land are lost to deforestation, where 97% takes place in tropical regions (Hufty et. al). Tropical deforestation and forest degradation contribute to about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions which is a striking challenge to the addressing the global regime of climate change due to tropical forests having particularly high carbon stocks (Park, et. al). At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, the term “avoided deforestation” was not included in the Kyoto Protocol due to the complexity of deforestation management (Hufty et. al). At the 11th Conference of Parties (COP) in 2005, the mechanism “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus” (REDD+) was agreed upon to support the implementation of REDD by focusing on the role of conservation, sustainable management and carbon stock enhancement (Hufty et. al).

The Global Regime of REDD+

In just four years after the proposal of REDD+ in 2005, 79 REDD+ activities and over 100 demonstrations were implemented in 40 developing countries with the help of international organizations such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank and the UN-REDD Programme, jointly led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (Park, et. al). However, the progress of REDD+ would not be where it is at without the support of several developed countries. At COP15 under the Copenhagen Accord, Japan, Australia, France, France, Norway, the UK, and the US jointly pledged USD3.5 billion to kickstart the finance of REDD+.

Park et. al analyzed the national REDD+ strategies of Norway, Germany, Australia, the US, and Japan through three strategies: pledge, type of support, and approach. Results showed that all countries made a national pledge through a non-binding and voluntary commitment, exemplified in the Copenhagen Accord. Furthermore, all countries used a strategy of bilateral and multilateral cooperation to specialize national initiatives on forest management and climate change. However, the five countries used different approaches to REDD+: Norway had the largest scale of financing, Germany focused on the biodiversity regime, Australia partnered with developing countries to form forest carbon markets, the US focuses on bilateral assistance to use its REDD+ credits in its domestic carbon market, and Japan is using REDD+ technology for capacity building (Park, et. al). This study shows there is a shared goal of committing to the REDD+ regime, but their strategies are dependent on national goals and perspectives.

Within the international cooperation lies the smaller, developing countries where REDD+ projects are being carried out. The second case study analyzed 80 REDD+ projects in 34 different countries and the importance of biodiversity as a REDD+ goal by categorizing the study in two focuses: emission reduction (ER) and afforestation/reforestation (A/R). Results showed that A/R projects prioritized restoring natural habitat and RE projects prioritized preventing habitat loss (Panfil & Harvey). Similar to Park, et. al’s study, projects within REDD+ have variability in their objectives and goals. However, these projects lacked specificity which constrains the ability of these national governments to measure and monitor conservation success.

Policy Gaps and Future Actions

            The global REDD+ regime could alleviate poverty, conserve biodiversity, and mitigate climate change through its carbon market. It has the end-goal of protecting forests which protects the ecosystems and species within, and ultimately stimulates economic development. However, there are multiple criticisms to the mechanism. By focusing on developing countries, industrialized countries can be disincentivized to reduce their personal carbon emissions, whether it be through decreasing carbon-emitting behaviors or quitting investing in renewable and clean energy technology (Hirsch, et. al). Another gap is avoiding deforestation in one area neglects deforestation in another (Hufty et. al). If monoculture species or fast-paced growth tree species are implemented, there will be increased biodiversity loss. One of the biggest arguments is the loss of community based means. Tropical forests have a large population of indigenous people whose livelihoods depend on trees so if new governments or wealthier institutions come in to reallocate resource management rights, traditional land uses and indigenous culture will be threatened.

The aforementioned “win-win” structure for both developed and developing countries is effective in gaining funding and support, but fuels disillusioned optimism. If the developed countries fail to fulfill their promises, trust that is necessary to meet forest management and carbon reduction objectives will be lost and the receiving stakeholder even alienate their involvement (Hirsch et. al). Furthermore, focusing only on positives creates a platform for other policy narratives to focus on the negatives. For example, the Indigenous Environmental Network, a strong opponent of REDD+ renamed the acronym to “Reaping Profits from Evictions, Land grants, Deforestation, and Destruction of biodiversity” for their policy narrative.

To combat stronger divides, a new attempt of examining trade-offs during the planning of international policy regimes has been gaining momentum. Realistic acknowledgement of losses and analysis of trade offs promotes creative dialogue and reduces probability of disappointment (Hirsch, It is hard to acknowledge trade offs when support from political interests or funding is at stake because all decision makers want to hear is the definite success of said policy. However, acknowledging conflicting views from the start leads to more productive negotiation. It also legitimizes why a policy was chosen or not not chosen to be adopted and thus, legitimizes policies that are adopted in the end. However, there are some setbacks to trade-off analysis. Complex issues can be obscured and oversimplified, it can shift roles of important perspectives away from social issues, and there can be an assumption that everything can be traded off when things such as individual or cultural rights are deemed non-negotiable (Hirsch et. al) Analyzing trade-offs are not the only solution, but they are vital in recognizing multi-perspectives and embraces complexity which will lead to open discussion and improvement before implementation.


REDD+ access and exclusion to land depends on the actors involved, and how they claim and use their land and forest carbon. Developed countries’ level of contribution depend on their personal interests and resources. Some communities object the involvement of foreign national management while others are excited for more secure, local resource management. Overall, international cooperation between developed and developing countries indicate that there are shared values and interests with the commonality of combatting climate change. While the REDD+ regime is still gaining momentum in select national governments, this analysis of international cooperation on combatting deforestation is not enough. There is a prevalent lack of acknowledgment about the social impacts of REDD+ and the success of carbon as a market. In the meantime, continuous cooperation between developing and developed countries and inclusion of local-based groups in policy action is necessary for REDD+ to have long-term success in mitigating the global environmental issue of tropic deforestation and land degradation.

By Tammy Nguyen

Tammy is a delegate with Care About Climate to COP23 and Climate Ambassador. She studies Sustainability at Arizona State University and is an on-campus changemaker.

Amalen the Artivist

Amalen built a massive puppet of the Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Death & New Life for the Climate March. The Goddess demonstrated a strong woman beating back the greedy capitalist destroying the world.

Amalen built a massive puppet of the Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Death & New Life for the Climate March. The Goddess demonstrated a strong woman beating back the greedy capitalist destroying the world.

Sticking out a paint-covered hand, Amalen reaches over to greet a new arrival at the Rhizome Collective “It’s Dry!” he assures them, with a warm smile. Easy going and friendly, Amalen spent much of his time at COY and COP23 practicing “art-ivism”, as he calls it: the practice of using art as a medium for activism work. Amalen not only made his own banners, capes, puppets, posters, and prints, but he helped others to do so as well. He was one of three people leading the ArtSpace at this year’s conference. Along with Danny & Kevin, they set up a space where youth could gather and provided resources for their creative expression with the goal of launching actions and campaigns, protests and calls for support during the two weeks of UN negotiations on climate change.

Amalen is from Malaysia, and has spent nearly a decade dedicated to environmental justice, indigenous rights, and capacity-building. Long before I even knew what that word meant, Amalen was leading training sessions on how to communicate your message, organize volunteers, and influence policy in creative & effective ways. He even spent time leading corporate trainings commercially. I had the pleasure of getting to know Amalen over the past year. He participated in Care About Climate’s Online Youth Exchange, where we gathered in online webinars to discuss some of the very same issues that he trained people on. We met in person in July in China during the CYCAN International Youth Summit on Energy & Climate Change. 

Climate Sign from Great Wall of China with OYE and IYSECC participants

Climate Sign from Great Wall of China with OYE and IYSECC participants

When we went to visit Amalen in the Rhizome ArtSpace during Week 1 of COP, he gave us a quick tour, then put us to work on making a banner for our action: asking negotiators to step up their Nationally Determined Contributions to close the emissions gap to protect the lives and livelihoods of future generations. “Start with a quick background on your fabric, it makes the words stand out really well and draws attention towards the center! There are paints and rollers over in that bin. Just remember, personal responsibility is sexy, so please clean up after yourself!” We got to work painting as he scurried off to help another group. There were at least four actions planned for Thursday, and more on Friday- each requiring a team working alongside each other in the Rhizome.

Amalen is also the coordinator for the Actions Working Group among the youth in COP this year, and used his

organizational skills to create an easy-to-use form to register an action with UN security (under the UNFCCC Secretariat) and a spreadsheet of all the actions that were planned so that we could support each other’s events and draw a crowd. Amalen is a fantastic leader, in that he knows when to step back and let others shine, while supporting in the background. He is a critical thinker, creative and mentor. Back home, he serves as Chief Executive Farmer at Tu:Gu with his friend Kelvin, another youth delegate at COP23. They started their aeroponics farm less than 6 months ago with all recycled and repurposed materials. 

Amalen wears his No Coal No Oil No Gas cape at a second Climate March in Bonn

Amalen wears his No Coal No Oil No Gas cape at a second Climate March in Bonn

A “typical” day at COP for him looks like this:

7:00 Wake up

8:15 Leave for Bonn Zone

9:00 YOUNGO daily meeting

10:00 Actions working group meeting

11:00 Zip over to Bula Zone to catch some negotiations

12:00 Bike back into the center of Bonn to open the ArtSpace

12:00 Send emails about that day’s actions

14:00 Make some fabric prints

16:00 Take inventory of supplies and pick up more

18:00 ArtSpace fills with youth, community members, and other Art-tivists

22:00 ArtSpace closes, some people stay late to finish

23:00 Start cleaning up and hang the last of the banners to dry

00:00 Arrive back at the hostel, start working on press releases, and check emails

3:00 Climb in bed

This is just a taste of what Amalen does, as there is so much more that he was going each day that I missed. While COP is over now, If you’re in Bonn, be sure to go visit the Rhizome Collective at  Dorotheenstrabe 99, Bonn. And check out some of the powerful actions Amalen has done in the past in this trailer to the film, Voices Not Heard: The Climate Fight of Malaysian Youth, by Director Scott Brown. 

If you’re interested in seeing or screening the film with your school or organization, please contact Scott Brown at

From left, the Author, UNFCCC Focal point on Education & Youth, and Amalen flash the Climate Sign after moderating the opening ceremony of COY13

From left, the Author, UNFCCC Focal point on Education & Youth, and Amalen flash the Climate Sign after moderating the opening ceremony of COY13

By Sarah Voska

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, and the director of the Online Youth Exchange. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at with any questions!

Talanoa Dialogue at COP23

Last Year at COP22 in Marrakech, much of the media conversation was distracted by the US election results, and the instability of what would become of the Paris Agreement without the US’s commitment. Would it fall the way of the Kyoto Protocol? Would the economics work in its favor, as they did in the case of the Montreal Protocol? Countries weren’t sure, but they knew that inaction was too risky. They signed the Marrakech Action Protocol, indicating that they were all “Still In” regardless of what other countries decided. The decision was a powerful statement of unity for the environmental community worldwide, and a fierce posture against the new administration’s foreign policy stance. This effort was paired with a decision to include more non-state actors. Where states fail to act or where they are limited in their reach, their capacities can be expanded by including civil society in the implementation, tracking and policy making. This decision let to the organization of a Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.

The facilitative dialogue was called to address three questions:

              Where Are We?                            Where do we need to be?                             How do we get there?

These three questions were to be answered through a conversation between the stakeholders and the 196 nations that are part of the Paris Agreement.

Stakeholders have long been fighting for a voice in the decision making of international climate change agreements, and this dialogue was especially important to youth.  Within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there are nine recognized constituency groups (a network of organizations that share a common purpose). They are: Business & Industry, Research & Investigation, Youth, Environmental, Local Government & Municipal Authorities, Indigenous Peoples, Farmers, Women & Gender, and Trade Unions. Each constituency has one or more policy position that they would like to see pushed through during the negotiations. Each of these constituency groups would now have a stronger voice through the Facilitative Dialogue.

photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

During Week One, Fiji Prime Minister and COP23 President, Frank Bainimarama and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosaheld an Open Dialogue between party actors and constituency groups. This was the first time for many constituency groups to have a seat at the table with equal footing and an equal voice in the conversation. Statements made by constituencies were given freely, not limited or timed as they typically are. The Fiji presidency compared the dialogue to a process called talanoa, a storytelling style used in the Pacific that emphasizes participation, inclusion and transparency, on a basis of trust and empathy.

photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

Parties engaged as well, responding to concerns of different constituency groups. The UK mentioned locking business leaders in a room until they figured out how to transition to a green economy, while Mexico joked that their businesses went into the room willingly. Uganda talked about a national climate change forum they held with non-party stakeholders to engage youth and community organizations in climate change adaptation.

Youth asked for greater focus on climate empowerment, with financial and institutional support for their programs so that they can take action in their home countries. We also asked for climate empowerment, capacity building, and climate change education to be included in countries’ national climate action plans, especially for mitigation.

photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

Moving into next year, there will be an online platform where we can contribute to the dialogue to try and answer some of these questions of where we’re at, where we’re going, and how to get there. The purpose of this dialogue is to create solutions, to drive innovation, and propose realistic means through which we limit global average temperature rise to 1.5⁰C.  Next year will be the big year to get these solutions together so that countries can start putting them in place worldwide before the 2023 Global Stocktake, when a count will be done of each country’s present and reduced emissions, carbon sinks, and mitigation efforts.

Youth around the world are already acting on the ground to create synergy for emissions reductions. Plant-for-the-PlanetClimate Smart Agriculture Youth Network, and CliMates are just a couple examples of organizations that bring thousands of youth together for reforestation, less invasive farming, and campaign building. For capacity-building, Youth Climate Lab, China Youth Climate Action Network and Care About Climate have created tools for youth worldwide to connect on online platforms to discuss the issues, solutions, and strategies for youth activists to be most effective in their work to address climate change locally, regionally or nationally. In terms of policy action, on an international level, we have working groups within YOUNGO that address many policy issues such as

Adaptation, Women & Gender, Capacity-Building, Oceans, etc. These work to consolidate our policy positions into a specific request of policy-makers.

Kava- a traditional Pacific drink

Kava- a traditional Pacific drink

Over the next year, the UNFCCC will be continuing the Talanoa Dialogue at intersessionals in May and at COP24 in Poland. We look forward to drinking kava and having many more talanoa sessions! In the meantime, we’ll be continuing with our capacity building work year-round and working to make it as inclusive and transparent as possible. As Mr. Bainimarama said, “We are all in the same canoe“, we must work together to find & implement solutions.


By Sarah Voska

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, and the director of the Online Youth Exchange. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at with any questions!

Tracking Change: Will We See Ambition @ COP23?

With the beginning of Week 2 at COP23 in Germany, I am entering my fifth experience at the UN climate talks. In a couple of hours, I begin to hear questions about the United States’ role now that they intend to withdraw. Some voices call for the U.S. to withdraw from the process entirely and others seem to find comfort that there is a clear loser in this consensus based process. There are questions about how countries will offer Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to embrace the Paris Agreement, and how countries will pay for climate change.

When I listen to climate talks, I look for words I understand in a cloud of words that are arranged to confuse almost everyone in the room. Last afternoon, I watched a room of negotiators nearly achieve inclusion of the word “gender” in a report, which would also help lay out their work for the coming year. Gender equity in the climate talks is an important issue, as many impacts of climate change disproportionately impact women.

As consensus neared, Saudi Arabia claimed interest in compromise. Within five minutes, the conversation derailed to a separate piece of the text and time ran out and…well, let’s just say not only is gender not in that report – but that report got tabled until May of 2018.

Civil society is seeking greater ambition as negotiators face crucial implementation details of the Paris Agreement. When in doubt, any negotiator can rest easy knowing they are not the United States. With stated intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and a single conference event about the positive role of fossil fuels, the U.S. is even more unpopular than usual.

This year, familiar faces from the U.S. Envoy could still be seen in the halls of COP23. I ran into negotiator Trigg Talley and convinced him to share the climate sign. To be honest, in these dark times I felt a solidarity with him that I did not feel in the lead up to the Paris Agreement.

In a press briefing, the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance called for equitable finance of climate solutions. They are not just looking for the missing $100 billion in the Adaptation Fund – they are asking for equitable distribution of whatever funds are generated in the coming years. One thing can be agreed across the board: very little will be accomplished if financial mechanisms for the Paris Agreement are not solidified and if negotiators hide behind cowards bigger than themselves. Negotiators forget that climate change is happening in real time, and that the world is in need of more solutions.

The Climate March

November 12, 2017

On November 4th, activists from different parts of the world converged in Bonn, Germany to make a stand against Climate Change. Chanting slogans while clothed in red outfits, the protesters marched through the streets of the erstwhile Western capital of Germany towards to UN center where the COP 23 is taking place. The UN Conference of Parties 2017 (COP23) began here on November 6th and will run until November 17th. The COPs are the annual negotiations of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) where ideas are exchanged to find solutions on how to mitigate Climate Change.

In the light of this conference, the Saturday before the official start of negotiations, an estimate of about 11,000 activists gathered to demand urgent action on the termination of coal in order to combat climate change and fight climate injustice. “Klima Schutzen – Kohle Stoppen” which translates to Protect our Climate and Stop the usage of Coal was the main message of this march. Since COP23 is being held in Germany, the nearby operating RWE coal mines of the Rhineland are a sore point in the framework of the convention. While the 11,000 marching civilians protested against the continued extraction of this fossil fuel, it will no doubt be a large dirty elephant in the room throughout the 10-day negotiations. Groups such as Code Rood and have supported the campaign of ending coal extraction in the Rhineland, marketed as ´Ende Gelände´. Germany claims to be a leader in clean energy, while as you read this the Rhineland coal mine industry remains the largest CO2 emitter in Europe. Solar and wind energy — while growing rapidly — still only account for a tiny sliver of global energy production. According to a study published last week in Environmental Research Letters, holding sea level rise to 50 centimeters (20 inches) by 2100 would become nearly impossible if coal-fired energy is not phased out by mid-century.

Our delegates had a wonderful experience at the march where we interacted with other groups who shared their thoughts and ideas with us. From university students to working professionals, we saw great passion and enthusiasm from the participants. The march concluded with a number of activists sharing their stories and views on Climate Change which was very inspiring and touching. Climate Change is here and we need to fight it now!

Young and Future Generations Day

November 9, 2017

BONN, GERMANY– Today is Young and Future Generations day at the United Nations Climate Talks, COP23, and young people from around the world are joining together to call on leaders to step up their commitments to address climate change and keep the planet below 1.5℃ warming.

Recently, the United Nations Environmental Program published the Emissions Gap Report for 2017. The report indicated that with the current country commitments under the Paris Agreement, we are currently on track to reduce emissions by only one-third of what is needed by 2030 in order to remain below the 1.5℃ temperature limit.

“If we do not make a drastic step forward, my hometown in Malaysia will be flooded before any real impact is seen. I don’t want to lose my home and it is not fair that I will. The world leaders must make a significant change to save my home and the homes of millions of others. By the end of COP24 leaders need to step up and make serious commitments,” states climate activist Amalen S. from Malaysia working on Rhizom Art Space for COP23.

Countries need to lead the way in closing this emissions gap for our future. This means that for their 2020 commitments, countries need to significantly increase their ambition to reduce emissions enough in order to ensure a stable global climate. By the end of COP24 in 2018 if countries fail to increase ambition, our future will be filled with even more extreme storms, droughts, fires, and sea level rise. We, as the Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, call on our countries to step up now and commit to ambitious targets in 2020.

“My future relies on your action. Climate change impacts our agricultural production, and that is what I rely on for my livelihood and access to education. You have the power to make sure my future is secure,” Emmanual Yengi from Care About Climate- Uganda emphasized.

Under a health lense – COY13 and COP23

November 9, 2017

The 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) is this year presided over by Fiji, but hosted in Bonn, Germany for logistical and financial reasons. This is a historic moment. The first time a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) has had the helm. And it couldn’t have come at a better time! 

Storm washed away entire classrooms in hurricane Winston.

Storm washed away entire classrooms in hurricane Winston.

Mr Frank Bainimarama himself is the president of the COP and has stated that Fiji is focused on completing the Paris work program, the newly renamed ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ (instead of facilitative, much nicer as this is about inclusive, thoughtful discussions), the Climate Action Agenda, Oceans, Disaster Risk Insurance, the Indigenous Peoples Platform and the Gender Action Plan. 

Fiji seem to be really taking the lead and providing strong leadership already in these areas. I am cautiously hopeful of some movement with them already so strongly affected by climate disasters, ocean and agricultural changes and rising sea levels. I was in remote Fijian island groups last year with Sea Mercy, on a mission post the record-breaking Cyclone Winston and am personally moved by having people in control that are so affected, in so many ways. 

Children stand in front of destroyed houses 6 months after Fiji’s hurricane Winston.

Children stand in front of destroyed houses 6 months after Fiji’s hurricane Winston.

A recent analysis of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of countries, the path they have committed to meet their own goals of the Paris Agreement, found only 65% had included any mention of health. Only 90 countries mentioning it in the context of mitigation. So we still have a long way to go in terms of awareness and policy lobbying.

Much media attention has also been given to where health and climate meet due to the recent release of ‘Tracking progress on health and climate change’,  by The Lancet Countdown. Just in time for COP, they estimated that 9 million premature deaths in 2015 were from pollution, ’three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence.’ 
They unpack the true costs of air, water and soil pollution that has been ignored for so long, often in the name of ‘economic ‘progress’. They also recommended cost-effective measures to tackle the problems, including implementing monitoring systems and having timely accountability associated, working with business and local councils and being willing to confront vested interests. 

There was also a special mention of the responsibilities of health professionals – that we need to control the pollution and emissions of the health sector that make up a large footprint in society. Lead by example by reducing in our own lives, support climate planning at all levels, develop climate focused health curriculum and ‘support research in exposure science, environmental science, health policy research and health economics.’

Partnerships between government, civil society, and the health professions have proven powerfully effective in past struggles to control pollution. For example, in the ultimately successful effort to remove lead from gasoline, which was fiercely resisted for many years by the lead industry, partnerships were built between government agencies, health professionals, and civil society organisations.

The study has been widely picked up by the media and will be very useful for reference in the negotiations.

I arrived in Bonn early, to attend the 13th Conference of Youth. With 1300 participants from 114 countries. It was an incredible conference, organised and ran completely by volunteer youths. It really was a model to follow in terms of sustainability. For example all catering was vegan or ‘recovered’, from bakeries and such who couldn’t sell the products the day before. It was extremely inspiring, productive and uplifting conference. They also made it a free conference with meals only 5Euro and securing a very low transport ticket for the participants as well, really ensuring the lowest barriers to participation that were possible. 
Health featured a lot more than I thought it would – with five education sessions held on various aspects of health and climate, very necessary as many people still don’t see the relevance immediately as it is not clear in the text and discussions currently. 

Emily teaches a Care About Climate session with Sarah Voska at COY13

Emily teaches a Care About Climate session with Sarah Voska at COY13

Emily teaches a Care About Climate session with Sarah Voska at COY13

I co-ran two sessions on the psychology of engaging people, making sure we make our efforts as effective as possible, knowing what approaches turn people off and what gets people to be open to new ideas and change. For a quick rundown of some of these very useful concepts, you can watch these short videos – Psychology for a Better World by Niki Harre and Science Of Persuasion based on Dr. Cialdini’s book, Influence.

I was also alerted to a relatively new health organisation, The European Environment and Health Youth Coalition (EEHYC), that is specifically targeting policies in the EU where health is impacted by environmental issues. 
The first platform was created with the support of the WHO in Lithuania, but also now they have platforms in Hungary, Slovenia, Ukraine, Croatia, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. 

They are the first youth health alliance I know of with the focus purely on environmental issues and they are very excited at the support they are receiving to engage in the space. 
Outside of youth, the EU do have the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) that operates in the EU. 

EEHYC ran an action challenge, giving out 200 pedometers to encourage and remind people of the importance of active transport and during the climate march held on the 4th, a large group of local young health professionals turned up in coats and masks, asking for the end of coal mining. 

COY13 Stands in Solidarity for Climate Action with Fiji PM & COP23 President Frank Bainamamara, Exec. Secretary Patricia Espinosa, and UNFCCC Focal Point on Education & Youth, Adriana Valenzuela.

COY13 Stands in Solidarity for Climate Action with Fiji PM & COP23 President Frank Bainamamara, Exec. Secretary Patricia Espinosa, and UNFCCC Focal Point on Education & Youth, Adriana Valenzuela.

COY13 Stands in Solidarity for Climate Action with Fiji PM & COP23 President Frank Bainamamara, Exec. Secretary Patricia Espinosa, and UNFCCC Focal Point on Education & Youth, Adriana Valenzuela.

In general, I am feeling very hopeful. I was quite emotional seeing how many developing countries and women were being empowered to speaking positions and were even just able to attend. Partly due to a huge effort by the volunteer coordinators to facilitate and find funding for global south scholarships this year. Of course not enough, but a huge difference to what I have seen in the past.
A 19 year old samoan girl, who studies at Auckland University, brought me to tears at the closing ceremony. I was so proud of her poise, power and mana she brought. One beautiful thing she said was regarding a saying they have in Samoa, that the fastest canoe is one with an elder steering but with the youth providing the momentum. 
I left feeling supported, enlightened, connected and empowered. Ready for COP23, where we have 1 year to get all of the Paris Agreement details finalised and that momentum is needed in many other areas of negotiations if we want a realistic chance of staying below 2 degrees C.

If you want to follow, comment, support or be involved with my progress at this COP, feel free to follow me on twitter @emilyjoyrushton or through Care About Climate’s facebook page.
I will endeavour to find time to report back after each week. 🙂
Bula vinaka!

Emily at COP22 in 2016

Emily at COP22 in 2016

 Emily Rushton is a New Zealand nurse, currently living in France and doing a Masters in Health, Sustainability and Wellbeing. She has been an active participant in the United Nations Climate negotiations for 1.5 years, focusing mainly on agriculture’s intersection with health and empowering youth. In 2016 she was runner-up for the NZ young Nurse of the year for her climate education outreach through OraTaiao: New Zealand’s Health and Climate Council. She also directs Care About Climate’s mentorship program, Climate Ambassador’s, as well as being part of the coordinating team of the youth constituency of the UNFCCC.

Talanoa Mada ~ Youth Stand for Climate Action

 November 8, 2017  CareClimate

For the past three days, over 1000 students, youth and young professionals converged in a high school in the outskirts of Bonn to define policy goals for COP, share strategies, and brainstorm ideas for how to combat climate change. The Thirteenth Conference of Youth, or COY13, was a place for youth to come together to prepare for the UN climate change conference (COP23) and another year of environmental activism around the world.

Participants raise the Climate Sign during the Opening Ceremony. Photo courtesy of COP13 PR team.

There were over 300 program contributions, consisting of workshops, presentations, and panel discussions. There was also an art space active throughout all three days, where the participants could make banners and signs for the Climate March, as well as other actions directed at building momentum and pushing negotiators towards stronger action.

One session that I felt was really helpful was called “Combatting Isolationism in the Environmental Movement. The session recognized the number of environmentalists killed annually: a sobering 100 activists, or two a week, worldwide. It also addressed the issue of disconnected activists, who work outside the framework of a formal organization. For them, it can be extremely difficult, and even dangerous to do their work. Without resources, recognition, or support, they are most likely to burn out or be discouraged.

Photo courtesy of COY13

At the end of the session, we talked about how we all must work together. We are all working towards the same goal, of stronger commitments to greenhouse gas emission reduction, reforestation, reduction of plastic and food waste, and access to climate change education, mitigation resources, and adaptation strategies for people all around the world, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender or wealth.

This communal theme ran through all of COY, and positive energy flowed through all the participants as we engaged in the conference theme of Talanoa Mada, which essentially means “Let’s talk” in Fijian. It connotes a participatory dialogue about how to combat issues that affect the entire community. As we move into the first week of COP23, the participatory dialogue will be a focus of the Fijian Presidency. Lagi Seru, a Fijian delegate and COY13 team member, describes Talanoa Mada:

Lagi Seru from Fiji. Photo courtesy of COY13

Talanoa is an everyday part of Fijian life. Creating a harmonizing environment for all, it brings together people to give thoughts and share opinions without the fear of retribution. People can freely voice their concerns, no finger pointing, and take the time to offer practical solutions at this space.”

Throughout COY13, special care was taken to support diversity, inclusion, well-being and equity, so that everyone felt that their voice were heard and valued. So many solutions were shared through case studies, brainstorming sessions, and workshops over the three day conference, and the participants left on Saturday encouraged, motivated and united for climate action, whether in their local communities, on their school/university campuses, and during COP23.

With youth from 114 countries worldwide, there was a great diversity within the venue. Everywhere you went, there was a burst of languages, laughter, and bright colors- from the clothing, flags, and signs born by the participants. Despite, or more accurately, because of the great diversity, there was a sort of synergy. Together, with so many different ideas, perspectives and experiences, we are able to overcome any roadblocks and obstacles we faced. Policy papers were written on behalf of the working groups, new partnerships were formed between overseas organizations, and those going into the COP23 negotiations were carefully prepared for strategic engagementduring the conference. COY13 was an incredible model of collaboration and participation. Whether it was through their food waste diversion programs, or morning yoga sessions, it gave us all the energy & focused determination that we needed to move into the tough negotiations of these next two weeks.

Vikaka & Danke to the entire COY13 organizing team!

COY13 Stands in Solidarity for climate action using the Climate Sign, with Fiji PM & COP23 President Frank Bainamamara, Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, Mayor Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, & UNFCCC Focal Point on Education & Youth Adriana Valenzuela.

By Sarah Voska

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, and the director of the Online Youth Exchange. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at with any questions!

Nepal’s role in COP and Issues of Climate Finance

 November 8, 2017

COP 23 and Nepal’s Agenda?

This year becomes very challenging, because of natural disaster around a world. More than 1200 people lost their life because of flood in Nepal, Bangladesh and India. United States of America faced a devastating hurricane and incidence of fire. Many of the part of world faced the recorded hit of heat waves and storms. All this cost to loss of billions of property. Some day before, World Metrological Organization release a report with a warning sign of global average concentration of Carbon dioxide reached 403.3 parts of millions (ppm) in 2016. This reports also says that this concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase at record speed last year to hit a level not seen for more than three millions years.[1] With this all on the board, worlds leaders, academician, representatives from civil society, climate activists, media and youth are gathering at Bonn for UN Climate Change Conference.

What is COP 23?

This year, 23rd Meeting of Conference of Parties to UNFCCC will take place from 6 to 17 November at Bonn, Germany. The conference will be convened under the Presidency of Fiji. This meeting will focus on the development of guidance on how the Paris Agreement’s provisions will be implemented across a wide range of issues including transparency, adaptation, emission reductions, and provision of finance, capacity building and technology. There will also be the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 13), second part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1.2). There will also be the forty seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47), forty seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 47) and fourth part of the first session of the AD Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1.4). The COP, the CMP and the CMA are the supreme decision making bodies for the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement respectively[2]. This is a regular meeting of UNFCCC but will also be very important as this will be on of the very important steps for the effective implementation of Paris Agreement.

Being a party to the UNFCCC, Nepal has also participated in the COP meeting from the beginning. Nepal has participated with a strong voice raising the important agenda of Nepal. This year also, governmental delegation led by the Honorable Minister for Ministry of Population and Environment, Government of Nepal, representatives from Civil Society, Climate Activist, representatives from media house have already headed to Bonn to participate in meeting.

What are the main agenda of Nepal for COP 23?

Before moving to Bonn, Ministry of Population and Environment has prepared a Nepal’s Agenda paper with a series of consultation workshop in Nepal. Nepal has focused and call for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, financial support to undertake the adaptation and mitigation actions in the country. Nepal has also raised the issues related to financing of adaption, financing of loss and damage and consideration of agriculture within the formal negotiations process. Nepal has focused in the harnessing of international cooperation and support in technology development for the implementation of NAPA priority projects. Nepal has also focused for the international effort for the access of small holder farmers to adjust their farmers systems and move toward low carbon efficient practices and to increase the access of farmers to weather and climate information services and financial schemes. Nepal has priorities adaptation finance and technology transfer as a key to Nepal and LDCs. Nepal has also put forwarded to discuss on the modalities for accounting financial resources and clear clarity on the financial instruments, difference between the ODA and the climate finance. Nepal will also raise the issues for the easy and simplified access of international funds, capacity building of Least Developed Countries like Nepal. Nepal will raise all this issues during the different meetings, side events.

Being one of the most vulnerable countries because of the negative impact of climate change and Least Developed Countries, Conference of Parties to UNFCCC is very much important for Nepal, to raise the Nepal’s Agenda on the global arena. So, Nepal delegation team has not to miss any chance to grab the opportunity which is foremost to achieve the Nepal’s goal.

Written By Pradeep

Pradeep is a climate activist from Nepal and currently he is working with Prakriti Resources Centre (PRC) as a Programme Officer. He is also a part of Online Youth Exchange Program run by Care About Climate and China Youth Climate Action Network.