COP Archive

COP14 – Poznań


At Poznan, there were 500 young people from over 50 countries, working together in a spirit of collaboration, learning and action. The international youth caucus organised a two-day conference before COP, which proved to be a powerful forum for sharing ideas, sharing resources, and planning for coordinated action and campaigns throughout 2009.


International youth delegates at the Conference of Youth before the COP 14 in Poznan, Poland, 2008


Five young Australians decided to ‘Be the change that they wish to see in the world’, and travel from Australia to Poznan in as low-carbon a way as possible. The 5 volunteers met with youth climate campaigners in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and China along the way, blogged on their journey, using new social media to outreach to thousands of youth, and reduced their emissions from travel by 40% along the way. Their journey served as an inspiration, a reminder of the global interconnectedness of the climate movement, and a reminder of injustice and inequality as they travelled between such economically diverse areas as Cambodia and Moscow.


The Indian Youth Climate Network was founded to give a voice to the next generation of India in the climate dialogue. In their most recent project, 10 members travelled for 34 days more than 3500 kilometres through India in solar plug-in 100% electric cars and a tree oil powered truck. They visited more than 15 cities including Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jaipur and Delhi, with climate communication and events in every location. The journey included clean-tech showcases, art, dance and music programs with local musicians and artists, to communicate the climate message in as many ways as possible. Along the way, the team conducted climate leadership trainings at more than 15 universities, training 500 new climate leaders.


Project Survival was an international youth initiative that arose from the coordinated youth efforts at Poznan, based on strong relationships between the youth caucus and struggling AOSIS nations. The campaign focused on the ‘Survival principle’ – that any international agreement must safeguard the survival of all countries and peoples. The survival principle sets minimum criteria for the Copenhagen agreement, which, if not met, would mean that entire nations and peoples will not survive – most notably indigenous peoples and Pacific Island nations.  An agreement satisfying the survival principle means a collective level of ambition to stabilise climate change below 350ppm, and strong commitments to adaptation funding, among others. It is a principle to which governments can be held accountable.

Within three days at the conference, delegates from over 80 nations – including many major developed nations – had signed the ‘Survival pledge’. As a direct result of the campaign, the principle was recorded in the COP President’s summary of the Ministerial Roundtable – one of the key outcomes from Poznan. It is one of very few examples where civil society organisations have directly influenced the text of the outcomes at a COP.

The partnerships formed between youth and AOSIS nations in December 2008 has led to the establishment of a youth internship programme, ‘Project Survival Pacific’, where five Australian youth to be placed in the Solomon Islands for six months, working with government, NGOs and local youth groups, sharing skills and gaining invaluable inter-cultural experience. These five interns, plus five pacific youth, will attend the Copenhagen meeting, as part of the project.


Planning after the morning youth caucus at COP14 in Poznan, Poland, 2008


The event in Washington DC at the start of March brought 12,000 young people to Washington, to hold US elected officials accountable to the next generation. It builds on the success of the 2007 event of the same name, at which the Energy Action Coalition brought over 7,000 youth from around the country to Washington for a long weekend of climate learning and action. PowerShift included three days of intensive trainings and workshops to empower climate leaders.

A key aspect of PowerShift is the lobby day on Capitol Hill, where thousands of youth rally and met with every single Senator and Congressperson, sharing their common vision of rebuilding the US economy and reclaiming our generation’s future through bold climate policy. Powershift provides youth with an opportunity to learn about climate science, politics, democratic processes, and the theory of social movements – and then it puts all this learning into action.

More than 2,000 young people joined with US environmental leaders in a non violent direct action at the Capitol Coal Power Plant in Washington, DC. After months of planning and communicating the event to legislators, the Capitol Coal Plant was transitioned to run on natural gas only two days before the scheduled shut-down. The march continued, gathering media attention and powering thousands to return to their coal plants across the nation for similar events.

Because of the collaboration of youth at Poznan and previous COPs, ‘Powershift’ events were also run in Australia, India and the UK in 2009, with great success.