Podcast: The Attainable Sustainable

Episode 2: The Young Will Save Us All – (Even Climate Skeptics!)

The results from COP26 are in: the consensus captured in this headline from the Sydney Morning Herald: Glasgow ends in compromise, disappointment and a little hope.

Those terms have plagued the UN Climate Change Conferences since they began 30 years ago, and some would be quick to point out that there is very little hope at this juncture.

Then why, you may ask, have I titled this podcast; “The Young Will Save Us All (even climate skeptics!).” Let me explain.

I’ve attended a number of the UN Climate Conferences since COP15 in Copenhagen back in 2009. The opportunity to meet with delegates, journalists, world leaders, and activists from around the world has given me a unique perspective on the threats, the processes, and the possibilities. The situation is dire, but I remain hopeful. In a sense, I’ve been to the mountaintop, and I believe that the younger generation will lead the way out of this mess. Since being officially included in COP15, young people have become the conference’s conscience and the engine of the environmental justice movement.

In 1992, twelve-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki addressed the UN in Rio at the first Earth Summit. She was called the “girl that silenced the world for five minutes.” She recounted that famous address in this Democracy Now interview on the 20th anniversary of that speech.

Twenty years of negotiations, broken promises with few agreements, and youth delegate Anjali Appadurai stepped to the podium at COP17 in Durban, South Africa, and “mic-checked” the delegates with a progress report that served as a wake-up call. She put the UN on notice – young people are growing impatient.

Flash forward to 2019, and Swedish activist Greta Thunberg left no doubt that the youth of the world have had enough “blah, blah, blah and were demanding action. She organized student strikes for the climate and accepted an invitation to address the UN. She did, and she did not mince words.

I believe that a sustainable future is possible, but it’s clear that time is running out. We must hand over our keys to the young and let them drive.

*Audio clips included in The Attainable Sustainable podcast were sourced through archive.org and democracynow.org

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