College climate activists lead the way at COP 17 in Durban

You have to hand it to the college students attending the U.N.-sponsored climate talks in Durban.  They know how to cut through the nonsense and tell it like it is.

Watch 21-year-old Middlebury College junior Abigail Borah telling the august assembly that they can no longer afford to drag their feet on curbing carbon emissions.

“I am speaking on behalf of the United States of America because my negotiators cannot,” said Ms. Borah, a representative of the International Youth Climate Movement. “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.”

The response to her entreaty?  A swift escort off the premises.

Another group of students dressed as “corporate clowns” to bring some levity to the grim discussions.  As documented by the Climate Connections blog, they too were met with hostility by the powers that be.

While talking with the press, student clown Kevin Buckland “was grabbed and hauled away. His badge was taken, and he was barred from the International Conference Center.”

Then there was the group of Canadian students who were removed from the assembly hall just for displaying tee-shirts with the words “Turn Your Back on Canada,” a criticism of the Canadian government’s support for the oil extraction of the Alberta boreal forests (aka “tar sands”).

What kind of message are these young people going to take away from these incidents about the efficacy of trying to participate peacefully in global assemblies?  No wonder they’re turned off and turning to their own “people’s assemblies.”

As Laura Carlsen points out in an article posted on Common Dreams today, climate change activists need to “broaden the focus from once-a-year meetings in high-carbon conference centers, to the fields, communities and town halls where alternatives are already growing and a stronger political consensus can be built from the bottom up.”

The top-down approach favored by the U.N. and the international governmental community is showing itself to be not only ineffectual, but morally bankrupt.

Leave a comment


  1. jonb

     /  December 8, 2011

    There it is: “Security” escorting truth and spirit away and out of sight.


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