Friday, December 9, 2011

Kyoto is dead?

I'm sitting on the floor of the ICC in Durban, South Africa. It's the last day of the COP and only 3.5 hours from its supposed end. I'm waiting for news, grabbing every little tidbit I can. It's a tense environment, and Kyoto is on the chopping block. 

The lights just shut off in the building, I don't know why. It seems eerily symbolic.

What's going to come next? How long will we wait?

A friend shared that we seem to be following the law of the jungle - every man for himself.

Here's an excerpt from Kipling's work:

"Now this is the Law of the Jungle—as old and as true as the sky; and the wolf that shall keep it must prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
And as the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."

The strength of the wolf is the pack. C'mon world, let's get this together.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ugh, so I'm really bad at updating.

Hello from Day 3 of the COP! I realized that I am very bad at updating regularly, but sometimes it's like having a camera at a concert kind of thing. I'm absorbing my environment and taking it all in, and not focusing so much on the picture taking, etc.

It's amazing seeing these top minds, leaders and people that i normally hear on a small computer screen. There's so much going on that sometimes it seems like nothing is going on, because it's all a little overwhelming. I feel like a baby learning how to crawl.

The thought that so much is hinged on this particular COP emphasizes the sense of urgency of the talks.

The unofficial quote of the conference is by former SA President Nelson Mandela, "It seems impossible until it's done." Keep on keeping on!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 1 of Conference of the Youth

Today was the first day of the Conference of the Youth. It was full of energy and great stories from youth coalitions from around the world. One of the best stories was about the African Youth Initiative for Climate Change Caravan which started in Kenya and travelled all the way to Durban, with concerts and awareness campaigns along the way; they were 150 young people. It was great to see so much passion from our host continent :D

 There were a series of youth-led workshops, and the one I liked most from the day was called "Theories of Change". It started out with questions like, "Do you believe humans are selfish or altruistic?" and moved to "Is Climate Change an Opportunity or a Threat?" We moved to the poles of the room and defended why we were there. Hearing the different perspectives was a "mind growing" experience for me. It is a nice change learning from peers, who all have so many ideas to share.

Part of that workshop was prioritizing different tools for social change. They included education, influencing people in power, opposing people in power, social change through personal change, building alternatives, and caretaking (stewardship).

In the small group we were in, we all definitely agreed that Education is the most important tool for social change, and not necessarily in the context of the classroom, just exchange of information and knowledge sharing. From there, alternatives can be formulated. Social change through personal change came next. For my group, we felt that personal change is very slow and depends on personal values and priorities (eg vegetarianism as a choice, but is convincing people to make that lifestyle change? That's very difficult). We all thought that influencing, rather than creating conflict with influential people is the way to go, and that in the end, stewardship and caretaking will happen naturally.

It was a busy day, and we had adventure on the way home... More on that next time ;) My stomach is happily filled with "bunnies" and good curry, and my heart is full with happiness and excitement from new friendships and experiences. Good night! :)

How would you prioritize the following six tools for social change?
education, influencing people in power, opposing people in power, social change through personal change, building alternatives, and caretaking (stewardship).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hello from Durban :D :D :D

I arrived yesterday to the rainy and lush city of Durban. I had a long flight from CPH thru London, Johannesberg, and at last to Durban. One of the highlights was seeing the city of London all lit up like a big Christmas present, and from my seat I spied the blue London Eye and House of Parliament and "London Bridge". It was such a treat :D

 Aside from the rain making it a little difficult walking around with a big maleta, I found my hostel and co-delegates, with the help of some very helpful bus driver/ hotel people/ security staff and policemen who seemed genuinely concerned that I got to my destination safely. :p I know that seems like a lot of people, I wasn't THAT lost but noone seemed to know where my hostel was.

Sorry there are no pictures but the internet at the hostel is slower than sleeping snails. -- next time!

* * *

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A social contract for sustainability: But what if we fail?

A couple of days ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Dr. John Schellnhuber, the founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (located in Germany). It was a short lecture but it was very enlightening. He is a theoretical physicist whom has many accolades and international environment awards because of his work in Europe as a leading climate scientist.

I was able to scribble out some notes from his lecture, and I'll share some of them here.
Schellnhuber considers these three factors to be the biggest challenges to our planet:

1) Dangerous climate change
2) Depletion of cheap energy
3) Large global population growth. (which he described as "superexponential")

Over the past 4 decades, our planet has warmed by 0.5 degrees Celsius. Now, he said, you may think that 0.5 is a very small figure, why are we so worried? Schellnhuber said, think of the planet like a body. The earth's temperature is predicted to rise by 2 degrees Celsius in the coming decades. It's like having a fever - it puts your body in a poor situation. If we think about the body, 37 degrees normal body temperature is very different from 39 degrees.
What more if the increased temperature is more than 2 degrees?

He dismissed the notion of Geoengineering (eg releasing SO2) into the atmosphere as a mere fairy tale solution to the earth's climate problems.

Some other notes:
- Transport problem is the hardest to solve; consumes the most energy
- We need a bottom-up approach
- Making a social contract for sustainability through Twitter? Why not!
- Fossil fuel subsidies are an extremely inefficient means of assisting the "poor", however we continue to support them, around $600 billion -- could have been used instead to fund research projects into renewable energy
- Sea level rise will be very uneven and will especially affect the Small Island States

I am glad I was in attendance. I wanted to ask him what he thought the role of the youth was in achieving a social contract for sustainability, but we ran out of time. What do you think? :)

Image from
- Mon

PhilYouthDel on twitter

Hello! :D

Our youth delegation has an official twitter account now. 
Follow our twitter here: Send us your thoughts, ideas, and tell us what you are passionate about when it comes to the environment. 

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Let's make the youth climate movement strong!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Hello again, blogging world! My name is Monica. I've been chosen to be a youth delegate at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC - COP 17). It's kind of like a big battleground for climate change policy, only the warriors are dressed in business suits, merits are PhDs and important governmental titles, and words are the weapons of choice. It's going to be exciting, frustrating, triumphant and disappointing all rolled into one.

I'm a Filipina studying Environmental Science in Copenhagen and my pursuit of science has taken me to great places around the globe. I'll try my best to share what I experience and what I'm thinking! :)

I think it's important to have a sense of wonder for the outside world. From there the care and concern for its conservation and protection is deep and genuine.

Climate change is a battleground, so it's best to come passionate, it's best to be genuine. Otherwise what are you fighting for?

To end, here's a quote from one of the most influential women in the environment, Rachel Carson, who espoused the sense of wonder: "Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life."