Category Archives: Reflections, reactions and Commentary

Our opinions and insight

Youth Demand Voice in UN Climate Talks During ‘Young & Future Generations Day’ Cancun

 – About 1,000 young people from around the world have gathered in Cancun, calling for intergenerational equity and strong climate solutions at the United Nations talks. Thursday was “Young and Future Generations Day,” a day dedicated to celebrating the power and unity of the youth movement, but also to highlighting the critical role that young people play in the international negotiations. Through press conferences, presentations and a colorful faux “Youth Market,” young people pushed international leaders to use the two-week negotiations as an opportunity to lay the foundation for decisive action. “Young people will be the most affected by the climate change and consequences of negotiators’ inaction,” said Carra Cheslin, a member of SustainUS, a U.S. youth-based volunteer organization. “While we appreciate the opportunity to be involved in the UN process, we believe youth should have an even stronger presence at the talks.” Nearly 50 young people lined up outside Cancunmesse Thursday morning as negotiators walked by to board buses for the Moon Palace, where the climate talks are taking place. They demonstrated in silence as a show of solidarity for the hundreds of thousands of youth fighting for climate change solutions. “The purpose of this day is to bring the need for intergenerational implementation to the attention of the decision makers present in Cancun,” said Alina Pokhrel of the Nepalese Youth for Climate Action. “We are urging them to follow our lead and understand the necessity of international cooperation and concern for the welfare of the young and future generations regardless of national borders.” Nearly 100 other youths gathered at organizations’ booths in Cancunmesse Thursday afternoon to “sell their futures.” With colorful posters and props, they created a fake marketplace where participants could trade and bargain natural resources, such as trees and clean air. The message, organizers say, is that negotiators are “selling our futures” every time they neglect to reach a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty. Young climate scientists and activists from the United States, Canada, South Asia, France and Kenya also spoke about the actions they’ve taken back home to find solutions to climate change and research that they hope will inspire policymakers to craft science-based regulations that address the most challenging climate impacts. “We want to raise awareness about the threat of climate change globally and let people know that it’s possible to reduce emissions if every individual makes an effort,” said Trine Thomsen from Denmark representing the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Other “Young & Future Generations Day” events included:

* Hug Kyoto Day: Japanese youth and others offered free hugs to delegates to show support for Kyoto’s now-rocky, 13-year-old relationship with Japan. There was also a photo booth where delegates could pose with “Kyoto.”

 * A climate action dance for solutions led by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) outside the Azteca Building at the Moon Palace. The dance was first presented at a climate change conference in Canada in 2005 and made popular in Copenhagen last year when hundreds of youth performed it on the opening day of the negotiations.

* An interactive forum on the personal experiences of Canadian, South Asian & U.S. youth with climate change and strategies in activism to stop it hosted by SustainUS, Clean Energy Nepal and Tides Canada Initiatives Society.

* A discussion by the representatives from the YOUNGO youth constituency, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, scientists, representatives of UN agencies and key negotiators from developed and developing countries from around the world on how their actions contribute to a collective solution to climate challenges and what they see as important prerequisites for reaching an effective post-2012 agreement.

 * An event on preparing young people for climate change organized by FAO, UNEP and UNEP National Committee for the Republic of Korea, UNESCO, UNICEF, British Council, WAGGGS and ECI, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and best practices in climate change education including informal and peer education * Recommendations by European Youth Forum (YFJ), Service Civil International and WAGGGS on integrating non-formal peer education to achieve the ultimate goal of the convention through the actions of young but empowered change agents, especially girls disproportionately affected by climate change.

Thank You to Abel Musumali of Green Enviro-Watch, Zambia  for this report.

BBC Article Response: Is Kenya’s Carbon Trading Platform the First?

It is good news to hear through the BBC that there are plans to launch an exchange in Kenya, however it must be noted that it is not the first of its kind on the continent.

However, the Africa Carbon Credit Exchange (ACCE)conceived its own trading platform here in Zambia in 2008. ACCE is currently working with the support of the Zambian government, USAID PROFIT and a number of international and national partners as well as a group of international consultants to develop a transparent and effective structure.

It should also be noted that these platforms will only succeed if there is a sufficient flow of carbon credits on the continent and this is where Africa is still falling behind. ACCE has addressed this by creating the Green Knowledge Institute (theGKI) and are working on a number of carbon projects as well as a DNA conference that will help push this forward.

Whilst all Africans should be proud that Kenya is being acknowledged for such important work, the article however failed to highlight how much preparation is required to promote carbon finance in Africa where it claims less than 10% of the world market.

ACCE/GKI is currently drafting a statement that will be sent to the BBC to this effect.

Why Banks in Zambia are Shy to Invest in Carbon Projects

The financial benefits for Africa from carbon finance are exponential, as well as for environmentally sustainable development in the region. However the process to develop projects in Zambia that will create carbon credits is slow.  This can be linked to a lack of reliable knowledge and some myths about the financial viability of carbon projects.

Myths About Carbon Finance

“Zambia is not industrialized so it cannot benefit from carbon credits”

 True, Zambia is not especially industrialized, however this does not mean that the activities of the country have not had a serious environmental impact. The use of charcoal has been so detrimental to the country’s environment that Zambia is now rivalling other more developed countries in emissions. 

“90% of Zambia’s electricity is ‘clean’ so we don’t need carbon projects”

Again, this is true.  90% of Zambia’s electricity is from hydropower, however  this only serves 20% of the population.  In very rural areas communities may be using charcoal or generators where there is no electrification.  80% of the population results in possibly new customers for carbon projects.[i]                                     

“The risk involved is too high”

 This is a common misconception. The risk involved in a carbon project is no greater than in property development or other futures markets.  The difference is the required checks and balances required before registration as a carbon project can be costly, but in direct proportion to the return on the investment.  Carbon projects have two potential revenue streams, the profits made from the project itself through sales plus the additional revenue stream created through the sale of carbon credits. These two revenue streams make carbon projects highly lucrative.

GKI’s Training for the Finance Sector

As a result of these misconceptions banks have been shy to invest in carbon projects, missing out on major investment opportunities.  GKI has therefore developed training courses to educate and train bankers and financiers equipping trainees with all they need to make informed and secure decisions with regards to investment in carbon projects. 

Carbon Finance as a growth area is:

  • Highly lucrative
  • Ethically Sound
  • Developmentally sustainable

The question is not whether Zambia will develop a carbon market, the question is, when and whether local investors will be the first in line to benefit.


[i] This number depends on the project