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.