Experiences of International climate negotiations

Another update from Luke – the official ‘youngest person at the COP16 conference’ – love seeing it all through his eyes…

Hi Guys!

This conference has been an eye-opening experience for me recently as to where real climate change adaptation is likely to take place, and by far the most opportunity lies at grassroots community level, which makes what we’re doing seem all the more important. At the international level is seems unlikely anyone will enter a second commitment period under Kyoto unless the developed countries (primarily the US) take the lead. The US wants to see ‘voluntary commitments’ and measuring of success by ‘how well we meet those  commitments instead of measuring actual reductions’ which is ludicrous and would see developed countries make pledges of around 4-8% rather than the 40-80% needed in a second commitment period to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees! even if they could, the negotiators have said “we could never agree to how much should be pledged by nations in an adaptation fund” which is what the global public sees as a success in Cancun.

I asked the panel “Do you believe that we can properly address the issue of climate change using market mechanisms? (that is the carbon trading proposed under LULUCF and REDD+) given the current state of a global economy based on exponential growth on a finite planet?”. Their answer was a straightforward, honest and said one with out even any hesitation, as if a great burden was being released off their (the negotiations) shoulders.

“No”. “It never has done, it is not working now, and it never will work in future”.

And then, while I was still in a state of utter disbelief that they would have the decency to say that, a second panelist stated “The road to hell is often paved with good intentions”! It made for a very heated discussion! (while the cameras started to click away…). They ended the session on a positive note by literally saying that “Our best chance is in resilient community action”. I should trust my intuition more often. The same plenary panel has decided right there and then to continue the discussion in an open press briefing with media from across the world present tonight at 6pm (1pm today NZ time), and I intend to ask the same question, while introducing myself as the ‘youngest person at this conference’ which I found out I am! Hopefully the panel will be just as honest in front of global media.

We, as part of the Youth zero carbon strategies working group are planning some very important actions. We are firstly writing and handing out a ‘real’ agenda at the conference highlighting what really should be on the table in terms of UNFCCC workings. Then we are proposing an action right outside the Azteca Plenary hall at the Moon Palace with a guy in a business suit with UNFCCC written on it standing at a tap, with a sign saying ‘SUPPLY’ and then a hose to a swimming pool of large container where there is a youth member holding the end of the running hose with a sign next to him/her saying “DEMAND”. In the role play the youth asks the unfccc to “turn off the tap” but the unfccc refuses to do so, and instead asks the youth to stop it (ie; try to control demand). After trying 101 ways including water balloons and sellotape and countless others it is given up and the container overflows. Visually communicating that the only way to limit GHG’s in the atmosphere is to control supply rather than demand. This group is being led by a friend of mine named Kjell, who I joke about as being a ‘universal translator’ because he speaks 8 languages, fluently!

So keepin it brief… I gtg. But i have also left my contact details with the UNESCO reps here in Cancun. :p


Travel update from Luke

Ola Amigos!

I have been enjoying myself very, very much these past few days. I finally met up with the UNESCO people here in Cancun and sure enough one of them had been to Waiheke before and so knew the place well and gave me some clear advice. Sounds like Colin’s got his facts right that’s for sure, and we’re doing all the best things to do, and not rushing the process which is good. I have got the card of the head guy in Paris who co-chairs UNESCO.  Appears the best thing to do to raise public profile would be to invite the NZ branch people or some people from Noosa Biosphere reserve over.

COP 16 is all over for me now! No more plenaries thank you very much, and no more IPCC, ODEAC, UNFCCC, SBSTA, or KP, COY, and whatever else comes to mind. But the second lot of us will be going in from tomorrow and I will be playing an important motherly role in making packed lunches out of dinner leftovers from the night before, reading through the daily programme and sorting out what we need to be going to as a delegation and at what times, and acting as daily coordinator for the next 3 days. Everyone will feed into me what their plans are for the day around breakfast. I am still keeping myself as busy as ever, and I have a whole day side conferencia in a 5-star hotel called the ‘Rio Cancun’ from 9-5 tomorrow on the ethics behind climate change and the ethics behind the UNFCCC workings, which I consider to be very important in addressing the issue since it is more a moral and ethical issue than a political issue.

I also finally got permission for our garden hose extraction action at the Palace! But the secretariat are so stringent they won’t even allow us to have water! It’s paranoia if you ask me. Oh well, there’s the Via Campesina march tomorrow down Ave Tulum which last year had 40,000 participants and this will test them to the extreme, provided there are as many people as last year, it’s so hard to tell. The caravans have taken over in the last two days, after passing through all of mexico over the past few months… I bet they’ll bring out the tanks after all. A lot of people have lost faith in the negotiations and so all the activists that camped outside Copenhagen last year aren’t here this year, but there are more people at the actual conference, with the rumors pointing at around 45,000. We’re gonna use water anyway, because I’m the one held accountable for it and I’m not in the conference anymore so they can’t kick me out, and so I say yes. We’re painting some banners and stuff tonight.

I have been invited to stay on a floating island made out of plastic bottles just off Isla Mujeres sometime this week. The bottles are held together in nets and the island built on top, apparently there’s a cottage, a waterfall and even mangroves growing on this tropical island, and Kjell is friends with the guy who built it. It is very cool and you can check it out on Wikipedia. It is the second one this guy has built cause his first was destroyed by a hurricane. I am also going to visit a REDD forest and the indigenous people that live there, on Thursday on a Mexican govt tour, and I’m also hoping to visit Chichen Itza before I go so it makes for quite a lot of day tripping! (more investigation continues at Soberani’s tomorrow).

I have been getting out and about a bit more often lately, there’s been more on around town. I went to the YOUNGO party at Klimaforum on Thursday night for a start. It was about 12km into the rainforest in a place very much like Te Moata, except with a massive open grass field. They had a funky reggae band there who put on a really good show, and we spent our time dancing the night away. There were also these people who did gymnastics with fire, and one girl who did the hula with her hoop on fire, it was amazing.

But by far saturday night was the best. All the NGO’s (non- government organizations) banded together and hired out Senior Frogs for the yearly NGO party. The whole place was pumping! Just to top it all off they had yet another street festival last night, and we watched some of the Mexicans breakdancing in the park.  They are erecting a massive Christmas tree in the middle of the plaza this week, which made it all the more enjoyable. I can consider myself spoilt rotten. All this time I never drunk more than one pina cilata!

The thing I enjoy most about mexico is everything that is happening around you. Just walking down my normal route to Soberani’s on Ave Coba today there’s the usual traffic and I get passed by a bus that was so overloaded with people there were guys hanging out the open door waiting to pay their fare as the bus is moving. The whole pavement and most of the street is flooded in ankle-deep water because the water mains burst last night and there’s this poor builder knelled over on the pavement with 8 different cement and tool filled buckets floating around him as he tries desperately to fix it. I witness a guy stealing from the street vendor as she has her back turned and just to top it off as I’m admiring the craziness of this situation I realize the cause for the traffic hold up, turns out this guy’s mini isn’t starting and I find myself pushing it down the street for him with a bus behind me as he jumps in and tries to start it. Only after a guy came running out of a restaurant literally with a spatula in hand to help me push did we finally get it going!

I’ve learnt my fair share of what to be careful of while here. The open world is a lot different to NZ and unfortunately you just can’t trust anyone.



Our Man in Cancun

Luke Carey is a young man on an environmental mission.The 16-year-old Ostend resident is the youngest person to be selected from more than 120 applicants as one of 12 New Zealand youth representatives to attend the COP 16 international conference on climate change in Cancun, Mexico.

The conference is being held by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). http://unfccc.int

COP 16 is being held in conjunction with the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), the thirty-third sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), the fifteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the thirteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA).

From Luke Carey, Cancun


I’m sitting on the computers at cancunmese fully registered for COP! with my badge and all stating me as a member of the UN i feel so important! The african delegation is sitting next to me and the japanese behind me. The venue is a long way out of town so if we don’t want to be missing important events we figured as a delegation we’d better be leaving cancun early each morning. It’s amazing here! it’s a giant center as big as the asb showgrounds or bigger with hundreds of different stalls with the organization’s name on the top. I’ve sat at the European Union stall and taken a photo for you guys which i will bring back home! There are plenty of others though, ranging from countries such as ‘malawi’ and ‘Tuvalu’ to the ‘Asian counter alliance organization’ (ACAO) and the ‘Global Wind and solar energy fund’ and ‘Jewish People’s Alliance’ and even the ‘Oil Producing Economies Coalition’ (OPEC) which is made up of Saudi Arabia,UAE, Russia, Iraq and those countries, who just try their best to turn the negotiations into a shit-fight and make more money out of oil extraction in the meantime!

Registration was easy, there were no queues, and it took like two minutes, a huuuggggeee improvement from last year where the delegation was standing in a line two miles long for 5 and a half hours while it was snowing! And to top that off, they were gated in by barbed wire fences and patrolling riot police with guard dogs at the same time! The mexicans are brilliant! (and it’s like, 26 degrees here!). I am glad that they have computers here because the internet at the hostel is terrible! I’ve been resorting to ‘Le Casa Del whopper’ or Burger King, which in mexico has free wireless internet instead, but it’s still so slow! This is like a godsend!

The security here is insane though! on the 20min drive out of Cancun along the motorway we must have passed at least 6 army trucks parked in the bushes on the side of the road with army men poking their heads out of the top armed with MK 57’s and ready to shoot. There was three ‘federal policia’ checks much like the drunk-driving road checks in NZ, and even once we got here We lined up and had our passport checked by armed army officials. The Taxi driver said to me they have over 9,000 federal police here in Cancun at the moment and I walked outside just before and looked out past the barbed wire fence into the rainforest just long enough to see a camouflaged army guy hiding in a little treehouse up in the tree looking straight down at me and armed with an automatic rifle!

I love Mexico. I have had no problems with sickness or anything, i am enjoying the spicy food now and it’s far healthier than in NZ, it’s so lovely and warm all the time and the beaches are amazing. The spanish language is beautiful and the city is so bustling and full of culture, like the “celebration of diversity’ festival and the independence day festival there’s just so much exciting stuff on here. The other NZ guys are calling me a human GPS because i just seem to intuitively know how to get places, what buses to catch and where things are!

I was yesterday put in charge of setting up the YOUNGO text alert system, so have been getting the contacts of over 700 youth delegates, which i then hope to put onto a laptop (not mine!) and then send out instant text notifications of actions within minutes, which gives us the ability to mobilize thousands of people within minutes for marches, protests, media campaigns and more. As youth we more easily gain approval for actions from the COP secretariat and are already building a giant climate pyramid out of over 50,000 boxes from a disused warehouse 5min walking time from our hostel. these actions frequently become the associated pic that international media put on COP headlines to the world and each millions of people.

I went to a workshop yesterday where  I heard about the zero carbon strategies of Costa Rica, Australia and the UK from international researchers around the world and good old Kirkle is leading the long term strategy working group which is addressing the inability to properly act upon climate change because of our economic system that relies on infinite growth on a finite planet. We are looking at this issue and the possibilities of an alternative non-growth based economic model but there is not alot out there yet. The best option that has become obvious to me to avoid catastrophic economic meltdown in the next twenty years with high inflation and the US$64 trillion of debt of the US alone is to diversify local economies that work independently of the global economy through the introduction of import-replacement quotas and strict foreign investment rules. This is important for NZ because we have been importing more than we are exporting for the last 20 years, which creates a financial deficit that is only met through loss of economic value in the dollar or by the selling of assets, NZ’s most valuable asset;land, to foreign control. This experience is constantly expanding my idea of climate change adaptation and connecting the dots for me, and i have had a fair few lightbulb moments and alot of ideas to present when i get back.

Probably most important that I have come to realize after flying halfway around the world that the whole concept of international climate change negotiations is an absolutely ludicrous approach and is going to get us nowhere. The only legally-binding agreement that founds COP is the kyoto treaty which is reaching the end of it’s first commitment period with no or very little progression made and little progress on finalizing a second commitment period, once this is gone countries have no reason to actually meet their promises. It is a process of consensus decision-making within 160,000 people making any sort of an agreement here, so no wonder it’s taken 17 years and we still haven’t had viable, measurable and legally binding outcomes! These guys have been negotiating my entire life! (but you can’t force a negotiator to stop negotiating and find a solution if he gets paid to keep on negotiating!). Of course that’s not the case of all the negotiators because many are passionate about finding a solution but it is an issue we face.

Any action addressing the issue of climate change is far more likely to come at a grassroots community level. I am sorry to say. But when i look around i see so many ways and contacts that can be really useful for waiheke as a community to become more sustainable, and that for me is inspiring.

Sure it’s busy as hell here, but because of our vigorous delegation planning we are managing this “structured chaos” okay and are coming out a mile ahead of any other youth delegation on the planet. We are recognized as being super-organized now, and everybody knows us! We have a policy document that is becoming widely read and is recognized as being well-written, we’re very well-positioned in COP, and have awesome matching shirts and a giant fern,and apparently we’re even more good-looking than any other youth delegation! lol.

I’m having a ball of a time! I have never been so motivated and enlightened in my life as being here in Cancun, my first time overseas, in viva la mexico, with such an awesome bunch of like-minded people and an incredible opportunity to change the world. Cop hasn’t even started yet! It’s awesome!

Adios Amigos!

If you have a moment and wonder what our 12 intrepid climate change youth are doing in Cancun, take a look at this link:


They are really into it, and doing us proud.

They’d also LOVE some feedback, comments, and a word from home.  They’ll be clocking up some hours, and sooner or later the tiredness will get to them, and about then a word from home will be just the ticket.

Waiheke Parade for the Planet

Forwarded by Mark Parisian.

To make a stand on climate change, meet at the council service centre on Belgium St on Sat 24th from 9.30am for a parade of 350 steps around the Ostend Market, departing from the service centre at 10am.


WEAR BLUE AND GREEN AND BRING DRUMS AND INSTRUMENTS, flags & banners etc. (wear green/blue face-makeup if you wish)
Prizes for most original Adult and child costume, Prizes for Best and Most Original Costume for Adult and Child. Take the bus, walk or cycle to the event- Think Global, Act Local!Bike, walk

We’ll be joining more than 2000 communities in over 150 countries taking action to urge world leaders to take bold and immediate steps to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions. 350 parts per million is the most carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere. The current CO2 concentration is 390 parts per million.

Photos of our event will be displayed with other 350 photos from around the world on MASSIVE screens in the heart of New York City.

For further info, see www.350.org .  Under ” Find an Action’ you can find the Waiheke 350 Steps event listed and rsvp to register your interest in taking part

Wake up our leaders on Monday ::: tck-ing down to Copenhagen

Wake up!  
Don’t forget to turn up on Monday 21st  at 12.15 at the  “Wake Up” event by the Red Cross building in Oneroa.
Bring your mobile phone if you have one or an alarm-clock, a bell, or anything that makes a noise….
We need to Wake Up John Key & his mates, in parliament, to the fact that Climate Change is happening & is speeding up with potentially disastrous consequences not only for us & our kids but for life whole planet…    Wake up & take action!   

Pass on this message + check out the tcktcktck webside (google it).   We’re already registered in it (check out NZ & Waiheke Island)

Let out voices be heard & let’s be seen to make the “Wake Up” call together with well over a million others all over the World.

Kia kaha & cheers,