Written by Katherine Boy.
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Last year at COP15, U.S. youth groups came up with the idea of Rapid Response Network, an innovative initiative that would allow youth at the negotiations to communicate breaking news and mobilize action back home. The purpose is manifold: to demonstrate to our political leaders vast support on climate and clean energy issues, prompting national and international progress on climate action, as well as to use the media to paint a picture of Cancun and our expectations for the negotiations.
At COP15, hundreds of Rapid Responders generated thousands of calls to the White House to ask the Obama administration to support Tuvalu, a low-lying island. Also, Sierra Student Coalition delegates got the attention of U.S. negotiators by widely spreading support of a real climate deal through Facebook, holding candlelight vigils and pressuring Hilary Clinton to agree to mobilize $100 billion in the next years for international climate finance. All of this was proof of the power that young people can have over national and international policy shaping, especially when it’s about our futures.
With the successful results from last year and the inspiration for this year at COP16, U.S. youth aim to expan this idea and get the Rapid Response Network to grow exponentially with hundreds of American responders calling their political representatives for U.S. leadership on climate change.
Yesterday, I joined the second Rapid Response network, and was one of many U.S youth hunched over our laptops in the back corner of a meeting room in the Cancunmesse. Other Sierra Student Coalition delegates, as well as youth from SustainUS and Cascade Climate Network, crowded Skype lines asking our communities back home to call the White House and ask President Obama to make good on his promise to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.
At the 2009 UN climate talks in Copenhagen, the U.S. and other developed countries agreed to raise $100 billion by 2020 to help vulnerable developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and move forward to clean energy economies.
So far, funds raised pale in comparison to this pledge. In order to secure a fair and sustainable future for everyone, developed countries need to hold on to their promises, and the U.S. youth delegations at COP16 wants to make sure that Americans pressure the Obama administration to make good on their promise.
So the madness started! Everyone in the room was really excited to start the first round of calls, helping generate, thousands of calls to the White House. There was a lot of laughing and some confusion with all the people talking at the same time in the room, but the action was a success.
And we’re growing everyday. By asking our networks to reach out to their own networks, we multiple our numbers and broaden our impact. If every U.S delegate in Cancun reaches out to ten friends, and those ten friends reach out to ten more, who then reach out to five more—we could mobilize a quarter of a million people.
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