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NZ Youth Delegation Has a Say in Climate Negotiations

New Zealand Youth Delegation Has a Say in Climate Negotiations

CANCUN, MEXICO, 1/12/2010.

The Cancun climate change negotiations, formally known as COP16, are being stormed by hundreds of young people calling for fair, ambitious and legally binding intergovernmental action on climate change - and our very own New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD) is right in the midst of it.

Emma Moon, 20,from Victoria University of Wellington, presented a two-minute intervention to a plenary in the official negotiation halls yesterday evening. She spoke on behalf of YOUNGO, the UN climate talks’ coalition of youth non-governmental organisations, which represents thousands of youth around the world. Emma addressed the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA); the theme of her intervention surrounding the issue of forestry and how it should be accounted for in an international treaty. She brought particular attention to Agenda Item 7, which pertains to methodological issues.

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Emma, Mike, Emily at Plenary COP16

The United Nations’ current definition of forests does not distinguish between intact, natural, and biologically diverse forests, and monoculture plantations. This allows multiple ways for countries to exploit UN forestry agreements; for example, converting forests into agricultural plantations is not currently classified as deforestation. This perverts the aims of the climate negotiations because the latter have a lower capacity to act as carbon sinks and are home to less biodiversity.

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Clarifying the definition of forests will inform negotiations which rely on SBSTA to provide accurate scientific definitions.

NZYD spokesperson Brittany Packer also commented “ It was particularly poignant that a young New Zealander was able to present this intervention, because the Forestry sector is a key point in the negotiations for New Zealand. The details for forestry have huge implications on the overall result of the negotiations.”

“The NZYD is focusing most of our campaigning this year on policies around how forests and deforestation are managed. There’ s a set of negotiations called LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry) which plays relevance to New Zealand because forests are a big part of our emissions profile.”

Brittany describes one example of difficulties in the negotiations that relate to our country. “The New Zealand Government currently endorses voluntary reporting on emissions from certain forestry activities, which means that countries can hide some forestry emissions while choosing to report only in instances where carbon credits will be earned.”

“You wouldn’t’ t tweak the numbers for the Rugby world cup scores and bias them towards New Zealand, cheating is nothing to be proud of in any circumstance. So why is the New Zealand government pushing for biased policies like this in the forestry negotiations?”

NZYD is working within YOUNGO to collaborate campaigns around the Forestry sector, in particular for this Sunday, which is the fourth annual Forest Day. They hope to be able to present an action inside the official negotiations that symbolizes biodiversity in forests, and encourages strong and immediate political action to halt deforestation.

“All in all, we are calling for effective terms to be proposed, which portray the reality of what a forest is, and for the elimination of unfair biases in approaches like voluntary accounting,” concludes Brittany.

The final line of Emma’s intervention was very powerful. “We, the international youth, are asking for forests-related definitions that will ensure our forests are protected, that the significance of biodiversity is acknowledged and the communities [and cultures] that depend on them are respected.”


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