Young Friends of the Earth Activities in Poznan

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A big thank you to everyone who made a fabric patch for our enormous banner! Chatting to the tireless souls who sewed them together in Berlin last night I heard that the squares from Ireland were the most beautiful ones of all! On the morning when all of Environment Ministers and their cabinets will be arriving in Poznan for the final high level discussions of the COP, Young FoEE will 'Wrap Up' a giant globe with a long bandage of messages from young people across Europe with their demands for what must be done to stop climate change. We have created one giant banner with the 1,500 messages which is now 20 meters long, and on the morning of the 11th we will present this to European Ministers and the media attending the COP, as well as hand over individual 'Wrap Up 'messages to our Ministers. Some of your squares have already been posted to Environment Minister John Gormaly in advance of his arrival here in Poland.

The group presenting the 'Wrap it Up' action is part of a youth project called The Countdown to Poz n Hagen- The Young Friends of the Earth Climate Tour. The project is run by the YFoEE network member BUNDjugend, in Germany. The project started with a youth camp in Sweden, in September, and since has seen the 50 participants from 26 different European countries being trained in lobbying, action and media techniques to take with them and use at the UN Climate Talks here in Poznan, Poland. I joined the Young Friends of the Earth Europe (YFoEE) group their hostel on the forested outskirts of Poznan last night after what was a long and exhausting first day at the COP. After a supper of strangely overpackaged cheese and tuna, the group facilitator David guided the group through a discussion of their impressions of the climate talks so far and their plans for the weeks to come.

Exhaustion, the strain of too many meetings, too much airconditioning and complete bewilderment at the scale of the conference was the intial response of many of the young people sitting on bunks around the cosy room. Domination of youth policy and action planning meetings by american, australian and canadian young people was another issue to come out quickly. For many american australian and canadian young people Poznan is their 2nd, 3rd or 4th COP meeting and their experience at dealing with complex policy and facilitation was sometimes overwhelming and excluding for the European newcomers. One youth delegate was quick to point out the paralells between this and how delegates from developing countries may be feeling - silenced and overwhelmed due to having less experience, or a different way of working.There was constructive discussion about how to deal with this - from not to be afraid of louder more experienced particpants at international youth meetings to attempting to break down structures and ensure that ''oppression watching'' was functioning correctly. Unlike their american and candian counterparts the european youth seem much more relaxed - more grassroots than trendy suits - there were even calls for a few people to come home early each day and cook wholesome upackaged meals for the rest of the group. Other issues the come up included the staple for youth groups - do we follow the wisdom and commands of our parent organisation or trust our less experienced judgement and rebel with the positions we take? The group's demands for the global climate deal differ slightly from that of Young Friends of the Earth International and so a debate about the way forward began, to be continued the next day.

It's heartening to see so many young people from europe passionately committed to doing everything in their power to respond to the climate crisis. Even when everything that they can do might not seem that much. And young people reacting to how the EU has failed us in the run up to Poznan - ditching it's traditional role of leader in tackling climate change to drag it's feet and propose unacceptable targets. These young people want their states to face up the damage that the industriaslied world has done - they want a cut in domestic EU emissions by at least 40%. They want EU money on the table now for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. Two girls in the group got to vent their frustrations with Europe through some creative theatre in a filmed skit about Europe recieving first place in the Fossil of Day Awards yesterday for shirking financial commitments and showing appaling lack of leadership. I hope that if our national governments continue to fail us that these young lobbyists will be putting on all the pressure they can.

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Climate Change