A High School Student’s Perspective on COP15

Note from Lionel: Following up on Mark Newton's overview of COP15, I thought this might be interesting to some of our readers. The following blog post is a guest post from Becca A., who is a high school student that spent some time at UNICEF Children's Climate Forum. Thanks to her for taking part and for sharing her perspective.


After a hectic journey, we easily settled in to work at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum.  On the first day I chose a workshop on Climate Justice.

At the workshop, we discussed the disparity between the major polluters and those who are affected most. Axam from the Maldives described how of the 1197 islands, only 200 are inhabited. Tsunamis, like the one in 2004, destroy the fresh water available to the sparse population, and these disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity as global warming affects the water levels and temperature. This is just one example of how smaller countries are feeling the brunt of climate change.

We then split into smaller groups, where my group focused on refining the message about climate justice that would be included in the drafting group. We categorized our ideas into seven focus points: funding, cooperation, accountability, morality, optimization of energy, a multi-faceted approach, and individual action.  This workshop was my favorite of the day.

During lunch I talked to Ragnar about the differences in public opinion regarding climate change in his home, Iceland, and in the US. We started talking about how Iceland has a fantastic source of geothermal energy, and how 70% of its total energy consumption comes from renewable sources, yet the public is generally apathetic. I thought this was really intriguing, considering Iceland will be one of the first countries affected by melting ice and rising sea levels.

In the evening we were treated to a spectacular: outside city hall was a giant Christmas tree covered in lights. We were told to our great amusement that the lights would be powered by politicians riding stationary bikes. The star on top was lit by Santa, who climbed a fire truck ladder and set off a firework display.  We then renovated our exhibition board and worked on the cultural presentation we would give to our host school the next day (the host schools were all Danish high schools chosen to show us around the city and present workshops during the week). After much frenzied cutting and taping, we headed back to the hostel and socialized with the other delegate for a while.  All in all, it was a great day!

About the Author: Becca A