November 27, 2016
Generation gaps were clearly evident at the U.N. climate change gatherings that concluded last week in Morocco. High school and college students came to the city of Marrakesh for COY12, the 12th annual Conference of Youth held November 4-6. The youth meetings were followed by COP22, the 22nd U.N. Conference of Parties attended by senior diplomats, nongovernmental organizations and corporate officials.
University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student Rock Aboujaoude Jr. joined in all three days of COY12 and also participated in the opening day of COP22 where UN leaders focused on implementing The Paris Agreement on climate change reached last year.
Aboujaoude saw clear differences among the attitudes voiced by the various age groups at the conferences. Many high school students expressed resentment of the older generation for not having taken stronger action on climate change sooner.
“The youngest students were angry and frustrated, very ready to assign blame for what they see as willful destruction of their collective and individual future,” Aboujaoude said.
The college students, by comparison, were less preoccupied with assigning blame, instead wanting to focus on charting paths to solutions. Aboujaoude explained that the older students only considered assigning blame to be useful to the extent it helped identify the groups, institutions and personal attitudes in need of being improved or placed in check to clear the way for progress.
“The election outcome was at the front of everyone’s minds at the climate conference. The prevailing mood was fear that a President Trump would undo progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Aboujaoude.
On Trump’s post-election statement admitting a connection between humans and climate change, Aboujaoude commented, “It’s encouraging to see him backpedaling on his previous public statements about climate change being a hoax. For the sake of all young people our next president needs to fully embrace reality and then lead our nation to a sustainable future.”
The U.N. diplomats concluded their Morocco gathering on a positive note with the U.S. and other industrialized nations describing how they plan to deeply decarbonize their economies by 2050. For their part, 47 developing countries pledged to transition their economies to run entirely on renewables by 2030-2050.
Private sector companies added their voices by sending an open letter to the president-elect and other U.S. leaders at the conclusion of COP22 stating, “Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk. But the right action now will create jobs and boost US competitiveness.”
Among the 300 companies which signed the list were Hewlett Packard, Kellogg, Intel, NIKE, eBay, Monsanto, and DuPont.
About: Campus Climate Corps is a non-profit program through which U.S. and international students engage in technical and educational projects on climate change.
Rock Aboujaoude Jr. 239-641-7625 (Gainesville, FL) firstname.lastname@example.org
Michal Fidler 420-722-703-325 (Czech Republic) email@example.com
Photo by Michal Fidler: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5MbiwKHBu3-V18wamVxUENpSUk
Photo Caption: University of Florida student Rock Aboujaoude, Jr. discusses climate change issues with other university students at the U.N. climate change conference in Marrakesh, Morocco.