Student Activists to Demonstrate in Denmark for Climate Change at UN Meeting

This winter, on behalf of the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) and the Sierra Student Coalition (SSC), students will be attending a historic meeting of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark to promote the passage of an environmental treaty. Juniors Chelsea Howard-Foley and Aaron French, studying abroad in Germany and France respectively, are planning to travel to Copenhagen from Dec. 7-18.

These two students will join other youth from around the world in large demonstrations and acts of non-violent civil disobedience to pressure the meeting members.

French said some of the activities “could include things like banner drops, blockades or highlighting the energy of the past by stopping production at a coal plant for a day or installing small wind turbines around the conference to show the decision makers what a real clean energy future looks like.”

The UNFCC is meeting in Copenhagen to establish a treaty that will take effect when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

According to their Web site, the UNFCC is an organization with theUN that works to develop policies to reduce global warming through legally binding treaties. This organization was responsible for the creation of the Kyoto protocol in 1997, which later went into effect in 2005.

The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement for the countries that signed it and states that those countries must limit or reduce greenhouse gases, improve or create sustainable technology, and encourage the private sector to act in a similar manner. The United States signed but did not ratify the Protocol and is therefore not legally bound by it.

Howard-Foley said that one of the most pressing issues in December is to make sure that President Barack Obama attends the negotiations and does “not embarrass the United States on an international stage by not attending.”

The SSC is trying to send students to Copenhagen as the UNFCC meets to represent organization, show their support for the Copenhagen Protocol, and inform others of the going-ons of the event.

The group is a national organization of high-school- and college student-led grassroots environmental organizations. The SSC’s mission, according their Web site, is “to train, empower, and organize youth to run effective campaigns that result in tangible environmental victories and that develop leaders for the environmental movement.”

SEAC, according to copresident junior Tara Hutton, will be helping raise money to send SEAC members French and Howard-Foley to the conference.

French, Hutton, and Howard-Foley all stressed that students not going to Copenhagen, non-SSC, and non-SEAC members can all get involved in supporting the Copenhagen protocol and international climate treaties. Hutton said non SSC students can write to their legislators and President Obama, come to SEAC, or find more info about 350 and why it’s so important to make the protocol stronger at http://www.350.org.

The number 350 represents the designated safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million. The 350 campaign aims to raise global awareness about climate change.

To get involved, French said, “folks can (as always) engage in a sustainable lifestyle, but relative to the conference they can call the White House to ask President Obama to attend, they can help fight for clean energy and climate legislation (in the senate right now) by calling their representatives so the US can have a strong national piece of legislation to take to Copenhagen, or they could organize a day of action in solidarity with communities that will be impacted by climate change if we don’t work to stop it.”

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