Singapore youth delivers speech at Paris climate talks

Today Online 9 Dec 15;

PARIS — Ms Nor Lastrina Hamid of the Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYAC) delivered a speech on behalf of YOUNGO (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC observer constituency of youth non-governmental organisations) during yesterday’s (Dec 8) high level segment of the Paris climate talks.

This is the full text of her speech:

My name is Lastrina. I am from Singapore, and I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the youth constituency.

As young people, we would like to voice grave concerns that this process is becoming more and more exclusive as we speak. Monsieur Fabius has said that to achieve a strong agreement we need a transparent and inclusive process, not only among the Parties to the Convention, but also with members of Civil Society.

However, in the past week we have seen the opposite. Negotiations have once again been closed to observers, interventions have been limited, and our voices have been silenced. Now that you have finally given us a space to express ourselves, listen to what we have to say:

Last Monday, at the heads of state event, there were numerous calls for climate justice and action. Leaders expressed that “Never have the stakes been so high,” “the fate of humanity is on the table” and that “we are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.”

They were right. The stakes have never been so high. But if the fate of humanity is on the table, then where is the action you so boldly discuss? Action, not empty promises, will save our populations from starving, dying of thirst, and perishing in floods. You are responsible for the emissions in the past. We don’t want history to repeat itself, stop the carbon colonialism.

We, the youth, demand that parties reach an agreement that closes the ambition gap and keeps the temperature increase below 1.5 degrees. Developed countries must take the lead based on their historical responsibility and their respective capabilities.

We call for a legally binding agreement that is no longer mitigation-centric, but acknowledges the need for strong adaptation measures, a bold loss and damage mechanism, technology transfer, capacity building, as well as finance flowing from North to South. These elements are crucial to help vulnerable communities cope with the enduring effects of climate change in a way that is both just and equitable.

From now onward, youth from all over the world will rise up to hold you to your promises. The time to act was yesterday. 21 years of inaction have passed. We have told you what you need to do.

Get it done.

Paris climate talks: Singapore youths hope to see more environmental activism
ALBERT WAI Today Online 10 Dec 15;

PARIS – The Singaporean youth delegation at the ongoing Paris climate talks are a clued in and engaged lot – they want to see an ambitious agreement with major emitters such as China and India taking on concrete goals and targets.

At the same time, they hope to see more Singaporeans take concrete personal actions to address climate change, they said in an interview today (Dec 9).

The more than 20-strong Singaporean youth activist contingent hails from different walks of life and several networks, including the Environmental Challenge Organisation (ECO Singapore) and Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYAC), among others.

“Ideally, I would like to see a 1.5°C goal (in the new agreement) instead of 2°C we are using now,” said Nor Lastrina Hamid of the SYAC, who delivered a speech on behalf of YOUNGO (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC observer constituency of youth non-governmental organisations) during yesterday’s high level segment of the talks.

Negotiators are aiming to stop global temperatures rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels but some countries are pushing for a more ambitious 1.5°C target.

“But realistically, I would like to see the five-year review cycle being implemented and also more information about how we are going to operationalise the green climate fund,” added Ms Lastrina, referring to ongoing discussions on a proposed five-year cycle to review countries’ climate pledges and the funding mechanism set up within the UNFCCC framework to help developing countries deal with climate change respectively.

Ms Juliana Chia, a lead activist with Team Young NTUC Affinity Group added: “China and India should have concrete goals and targets that they are going to set and meet, because right now they have the biggest impact (on global emissions).”

For some of the activists, attending the Paris Climate Conference entails significant investment of personal time and financial commitments, with some of them taking leave from their jobs to attend the ongoing talks to negotiate a global climate change framework after the current Kyoto Protocol pact expires in 2020.

They say that while climate change awareness among young Singaporeans is growing, Singaporean youths need to be more proactive in terms of making changes to their daily lives.

“Young Singaporeans do care about it (climate change) but we never had this culture of taking things into our own hands,” said Melissa Chong of the WWF Singapore. Ms Chong was a former environment reporter with Channel NewsAsia.

“We are always very reliant on the government and other people to do things for us. This sense of empowerment that I can change things on my own rarely gets support from other people.”

Wilson Ang, Founder of ECO Singapore which runs a year-long fellowship on environmental issues and takes a small group of youths to attend the negotiations every year, said that “the takeaway for them to attend COP (Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC) is for them to understand the process, understand how the issue relates and hopefully when they leave, they will walk the talk and eventually become champions in their own communities.”

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