Tags:For the sixth year in a row, SustainUS has had a delegation on the ground at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference. In 2011, students from the U.S. traveled to take part in the UN Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa. Ellie Johnston, chair of SustainUS will present her experiences in Durban at Green Drinks on January 11.
Below is text from an article in Spiegel Online International:
The decisions taken here in Durban will affect the world’s youngest people the most, yet the negotiators are mainly in their forties, fifties and sixties. There have been quite a few events in Durban where young people from around the globe were able to express their views and had a chance to talk to official negotiators. Yet many of the young activists gathered here do not think this is enough.
“They are negotiating about our future here,” says Ellie Johnston, 24, from Asheville in North Carolina, who is the chair of SustainUS. “The younger somebody is the more affected he or she will be by rising temperatures and sea levels.” A biologist by training, she joined the organization to increase the influence those aged between 13 and 26 have on decisions concerning the environment. Johnston is demanding that young people have a far more significant representation in the official negotiation process.
Perhaps the most important way SustainUS is trying to achieve this goal is not by interrupting meetings, but by linking up with like-minded young people from China — members of the China Youth Delegation. The two superpowers are the world’s biggest emitters of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and play the most important role in UN climate negotiations. “If we can bring young people from our two nations together and develop common views, perhaps that helps us to be heard,” Johnston says.
And so, over the past few days, about 40 young people from China and the US have gathered here in Durban to talk about common ideas for the energy and climate policy of their respective homelands. “It’s a very strong message if young people from the US and China speak out together,” Johnston adds.
Ellie Johnston is chair of SustainUS, a project coordinator for Berkshire Publishing’s Encyclopedia of Sustainability and the International Review of Sustainability in Business and Law, and an intern at Climate Interactive where she supports work on their climate and energy policy simulations. In all of these roles she works to facilitate a greater understanding of the world’s present and future challenges through accessible mediums. Ellie has served as the chair of the Southern Energy Network’s Steering Committee, Executive of Sustainability in UNC Asheville’s Student Government, founder of the NC Student Climate Coalition, leader of her campus environmental group, and keynote speaker at conferences and community events. Ellie enjoys living in the Appalachian Mountains, and traveling to new places near and far.
Socializing: 5:30 Programming: 6:00PM
Location: Posana Cafe, 1 Biltmore Avenue, in downtown Asheville