The future of the planet is with today’s 18-year-olds

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The future of the planet is with today’s 18-year-olds

By Rachel Lees

Young people from around the world with the flags of the United Nations saying, 'Stop climate change.' by Rachel Lees

Rachel Lees writes, it is today’s open and active young people who will ask our governments the right questions in the future.

COY is the Conference of Youth and it is for young activists to come together to share ideas about the earth as it is now and its predicted future. The volunteers all have day jobs and of course they have made a few mistakes but it’s all very well organized. And now COY is in its 11th year, it has a very busy daily programme. The day’s activities are about ideas, science, and planning. There is time to talk about the problems for the earth in the future and to plan how the YOUNGOS (the group of youth NGOs) with delegate passes to COP can influence meetings and individual government representatives. There is time too for young people from different countries to meet in groups from their part of the world and talk about the successes in their home countries.

COY11 activists enjoying the music of Earth Guardians. Hannah Henderson

Kristina from Sapporo, Japan is at COY11, ‘I organized an activity in Tokyo for students and wrote a paper to say we should have more young people involved and include climate change in the school curriculum.’ Kristina found that Japan has the highest number of young people who are really very interested in climate change but it has the lowest support to help them take action. ‘If we want the government to listen to us, we need to know what we’re talking about. That’s why education is so important,’ she says.

Michael is from Taiwan and the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition (TWYCC) and he is studying international relations in the UK. ‘We read about how countries defend their national interests but climate change will change everything. Every country will need to sit down and work together. That’s why I’m here for COP21. This is really important to me – that young people can talk about their opinions and hopes for the future. Young people are not just playing games, we do the research and know the policies – it’s our future.’

Climate change will affect this generation more than any other. And our future rests with these teenagers. The deals and decisions that world leaders make in these two weeks will only have an effect in five years. These active young people will be the leaders in society and these young people will have the job of asking our governments the right questions. They will make sure that the deals made now are looked at again and again and supported in the future.


(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).