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Jessy Tolkan

Jessy Tolkan

Jessy Tolkan is the executive director of Energy Action Coalition, a leading voice among the youth climate movement. ALL POSTS

Benefits for the youth movement

Q: Is the Copenhagen Accord a real deal? Are there any beneficiaries of this decision? What responsibilities do nations have going forward?

The Copenhagen negotiations did not yield the fair and binding deal the world hoped for, but once we recover from our disappointment we can begin to build on the foundation the Obama Administration and Congress has laid out for us in 2010. While the U.S. government's emissions targets are well below the levels that science require and we trail most of the international community in leadership on climate and energy, our chances of success are in fact much stronger now than they were during the Bush Era.

This is hardly a victory and no one would declare any party a "winner" in Copenhagen, but the youth climate movement will benefit from the collective sense of outrage we experienced after seeing the hopes we voted for in 2008 dashed before us. Our frustration will manifest itself in the form of resolve and the strengthened alliances we built in Copenhagen with other activists around the world -- not to mention ballots cast in voting booths come November's midterm elections.

Going forward, it's up to the world's nations to focus on five key areas for success: 1) garnering diplomatic support for a legally-binding global deal, 2) enforceable, science-based emissions targets, 3) securing $200 billion in funding for developing nations to green their economies, 4) addressing the egregious problems in Africa and small island nations and 5) an aggressive timeline in which to achieve these objectives.

I can see of no more fitting role for our nation's youth to play in this process than revving up the American people to action in more significant terms than we've ever seen. There are 44 million U.S. 18- to 29-year-olds, and many of us are furious that bold leadership on climate and energy has yet to materialize. We need not only a planet than can sustain us, but an economy to employ us. We are the greatest stake-holders in this equation.

We must hold the senators who will likely pass legislation this spring accountable to science and global standards. People in affected communities who suffer the disproportionate impact of climate change and dirty energy emissions must tell their stories to local and national officials and demand that their problems be addressed. This could prove to be as, if not more, difficult than 2009 was, as the U.S. political agenda in 2010 will be just as crowded. With the tenuous healthcare agreement resurfacing after the holidays, and another sure-to-be heated debate about immigration reform looming in the spring, climate and energy activists will have to make it clear that this issue is a top priority. It is our job to make the case that this issue underscores everything: If we end our reliance on dirty energy and eliminate the financial and morally-costly wars it incites, we can repurpose our resources into investing in other important areas.

This is a moral issue like no other, and we must insist on the political courage that has been so lacking.

By Jessy Tolkan  |  December 23, 2009; 1:35 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Surely not the real deal | Next: World still better with the Accord


Please report offensive comments below.

Attention young people! Try being intellectually honest. Leave the mind-numbed masses inhabiting America's college campus'. Jessy is the pied piper who thinks Obama is her savior! Join us in the conservative movement--a merry band of free-thinkers!

Posted by: vanhook99 | January 6, 2010 4:05 AM
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