When Hitchcock’s first black bird landed on the frame of the playing ground, it seemed individual, particular. There was no need to derive a common theory about the bird in the larger scheme of things as a harbinger of anything significant. By the time the children looked out the window again, 4 more birds had arrived. Soon, the sky had become dark with the descent of an avian blanket of hundreds of birds. As delegates entered the U.N convention center at Doha for the second week of the COP 18 in Doha, they saw the first bird perched atop the escalators.
SustainUS, a youth led organization, along with Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition and Canadian Youth Climate Coalition gathered around the entrance of the convention center and stood disenchanted and disenfranchised from the process, with a somber gloom. They held black cancerous spots that had been clogging the arteries of the negotiations, speaking about the chronic and acute influence of the fossil fuel industry on the levers of global climate change policy.
Mike Sandmel, the media chair of SustainUS and co-organizer of the event stated that “we hear a lot of stories about countries being painted as evil actors as if they were monolithic. Often, even in the choke points of the climate negotiations, there is a huge internal struggle for the environmental soul of the country. The fossil fuel industries control the strings of the country’s fate because of their financial influence and this event is to bring it out in the open.” As the delegates went past the signs that read “Fossil fuel industry groups spent upwards of $376 million on TV ads to influence 2012 elections in the US.” and “Preventing the tragedies of a 2°C temperature rise means staying within a carbon budget of 565 gigatons”, their minds were arrested as their bodies glided limply past. There were a few skeptical voices heard as one delegate from India remarked “Do these people not know that half the world’s population doesn’t have electricity?” Mostly, as the delegations passed, they documented the event in film while the media rushed onto the scene to get the individual perspectives.
Democracy Now interviewed Chi Tung-Hsien, a Taiwanese youth, and he said “Hurricane Sandy has recently shaken Americans awake from a deep sleep about the disastrous effects of climate change. In Taiwan, Sandy is the norm. With mudslides, a food crisis that is likely to lead the country into famine and constant threat of the rising oceans on their island, they live at the constant mercy of climate change.”
As the setting cleared, and the birds dispersed, another bird landed and another action materialized itself. This time, the youth gathered together to observe the cognitive dissonance within the Obama administration. The promises he gave the youth were read out, namely, “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet”. The action then went on to systematically deconstruct and unearth every single action by the Obama administration that is at complete odds with the ostensible ambition of both the election campaigns. Two elections in which the most disenfranchised minority, the youth, that came out in unprecedented numbers to vote the President in for him to leave them a planet that is habitable have been growing increasingly disillusioned. The constant propitiations to fossil fuel industries and other business interests were encapsulated under the banners of a ‘’Lack of leadership’, ‘’Weak targets’’, ‘’No clarity of how we will reach our targets’’, ‘’Airline reduction’’, ‘’Lack of Financial commitments’’ and ‘’Politics placed ahead of scientific realities’.
While the soot was sinking and the kettle of media was swooping in to the wake of Obama’s dead promises, the numbers and the solidarity of the youth was growing fast with each action, stamping and branding the leaders at Doha with a climate legacy that will last generations to come.