Today marks the official transition from 2011-2012 Focal Point leadership, so MJ and fellow Focal Point Avi Shrestha are now responsible for all related matters and communication with the Secretariat.
Writes MJ, "our jobs as Focal Points are to liaise information and facilitate action between this movement and the Secretariat which means we need everyone's active, engaged and constructive participation in order to ensure that our needs and influence as a constituency are properly conveyed to and met by the Secretariat."
SustainUS Rio+20 Coordinator Lauren Nutter served as 2011 Global North Focal Point.
When I was just beginning kindergarten, the leaders of the world came together in Rio de Janeiro for a groundbreaking Earth Summit that put the concept of sustainable development and biological diversity on the global political agenda. While I was chopping the hair off my sister's Barbies in third grade, the United States whacked the teeth out of the world's first agreement on climate change by refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. When America gave me the license to drink, I flew to Copenhagen and watched world negotiators water down the Copenhagen climate treaty till it was virtually worthless--effectively drowning out the cries of hope and change from our U.S. youth delegation and close to 100,000 other civil society members. Twenty years after the first Earth Summit, the leaders of the world are coming together for Rio+20 under the slogan of "the future we want."
For the majority of my life and the lives of my peers, our leaders have worked hard to give us a future we don't want. Global energy needs are skyrocketing and the climate is heating up fast--with normally conservative institutions like the OECD, the IEA and McKinsey predicting dire consequences from our carbon emissions and explosive population growth.
"I am speaking on behalf of the United States of America because my negotiators cannot. The obstructionist Congress has shackled justice and delayed ambition for far too long. I am scared for my future. 2020 is too late to wait. We need an urgent path to a fair ambitious and legally binding treaty.
You must take responsibility to act now, or you will threaten the lives of youth and the world's most vulnerable.
You must set aside partisan politics and let science dictate decisions. You must pledge ambitious targets to lower emissions not expectations. Citizens across the world are being held hostage by stillborn negotiations.
We need leaders who will commit to real change, not empty rhetoric. Keep your promises. Keep our hope alive. 2020 is too late to wait."
--Abigail Borah, December 8, 2011
8 DECEMBER 2011
U.S. YOUTH EJECTED FROM CLIMATE TALKS WHILE CALLING FOR NECESSARY CLIMATE PROGRESS
Durban, South Africa -- After nearly two weeks of stalled progress by the United States at the international climate talks, U.S. Youth spoke out for a real science based climate treaty. Abigail Borah, a New Jersey resident, delivered a passionate speech calling for an urgent path towards a fair and binding climate treaty and admonishing members of Congress for impeding global climate progress to internationl ministers and high level negotiators at the closing plenary of the Durban climate change negotiations. Borah's speech was met with an eruption of applause while she was ejected from the talks shortly following her entreaty.
Borah, a student at Middlebury College, spoke on behalf of U.S. negotiators because, "they cannot speak on behalf of the United States of America," highlighting that "the obstructionist Congress has shackled a just and delayed ambition for far too long."
Since before the climate talks, the United States has held off on the necessary emissions reductions targets until the year 2020. Studies from the International Energy Agency, the UNEP, and countless other peer-reviewed scientific papers show that waiting until 2020 to begin aggressive emissions reduction would cause irreversible climate change, including heightened tropical storms, worsening droughts, and devastation affecting communities and businesses from Africa to America. Nevertheless, the United States has held strong to its woefully inadequate and voluntary commitments made in the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreement.
"2020 is too late to wait," urged Borah. "We need an urgent path towards a fair, ambitious, and legally binding treaty."
The U.S. continues to negotiate on time borrowed from future generations and with every step of inaction, forces young people to solve the quickly exacerbating climate challenges that previous generations have been unable and unwilling to address.