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“Don’t sign our death sentence in Durban”

Handover to US
delegation at COP17
Handover to US delegation at COP17


“Don’t sign our death sentence in Durban”, Pacific and African Youth make a stand to the U.S. at the UN climate talks

DURBAN – A dozen youth from Africa and the Pacific Islands marched to the United States government delegation office at the UN Climate Talks in Durban today to deliver a letter asking the super-power to “not sign our death sentence in Durban”

The letter urges the nation to either lead or get out of the way of progress: “If the United States is not going to lead the world in solving the climate crisis, please stand out of the way. Delaying a climate deal until 2020 would slam the door on avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

"There's only a handful of Pacific youth here in Durban, but we are giving everything we've got to ensure that the US and other big polluters don't get away with destroying the future of our Pacific Islands. It's frustrating and hard, but we don't have any choice - we can't just stand by and watch our future drown." said Pacific's spokesperson Ewan Cameron.

The Pacific youth team in Durban includes Benedict Yamamura from the Marshall Islands, Ewan Cameron from the Cook Islands, Aaron Packard from New Zealand, and Simon Matafai, the Samoan delegate on the New Zealand Youth Delegation.

In the last 48 hours, the global campaigning organizations Avaaz and have collected over 500,000 signatures on a petition to European leaders and sent tens of thousands of messages to the White House pushing the governments to not sign Africa’s death sentence in Durban.

Meanwhile, US youth delegate Abigail Borah interrupted the lead US negotiator at the Durban climate talks this morning. The plenary erupted in applause when Abigail Borah said: "I am speaking on behalf of the United States, because our negotiators are not. 2020 is too late to wait.

The US led proposal to kill the Kyoto protocol and replace it with a new climate treaty in 2020 has caused widespread outrage at COP17. Climate scientists are in wide agreement that emissions must peak by 2015 if the world expects to limit warming to 2°C and leave open a window for reaching the stronger targets of 1.5°C and 350 parts per million.


Photos, complete copies of the letters, & links to the petitions can be found at

Text of the letter delivered to the US
Dec 8, 2011
The Honorable Todd Stern
Special Envoy for Climate Change
U.S. Department of State
Dear Mr. Stern:

We are writing as youth from across the African continent, the Pacific Islands, and around the world to ask you not to sign our death sentence here in Durban. If the United States is not going to lead the world in solving the climate crisis, please stand out of the way.

Delaying a climate deal until 2020 would slam the door on avoiding catastrophic climate change. In order to save our future here in Durban, nations must save the Kyoto Protocol, provide financing for adaptation and mitigation, and then urgently push for more ambition.

President Obama said, “The need to drastically change our energy policy is no longer a debatable proposition. It is not a question of whether, but how; not a question of if, but when. For the sake of our security, our economy, our jobs and our planet, the age of oil must end in our time.”

For our future as youth here in Africa and around the world, the clean energy future must begin now, here in Durban. We do not make this request alone: in the last 48 hours, thousands of people have sent messages to the White House calling on the US not to sign Africa's death sentence.

Please do not stand in the way of progress here in Durban. Our future depends on your action.


Youth from Around the World


© Scoop Media

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