Sunday, December 14, 2014
On the penultimate day of COP 20, I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. Mr. Steiner had a lot to say but the most invaluable advice that he gave is that youth should not allow the global political theater, UNFCCC COP, make us feel hopeless as if we are incapable of taking positive actions to address climate change because we are already making positive change, and it up to us and no one else to decide if we want to continue making positive changes.
On the issue of energy, Mr. Steiner indicated that renewable energy would be the best policy direction to address climate change, in particular solar and wind energy. He explained that nuclear energy is a debatable solution to address the issue of energy. His position is that nuclear energy is not a sensible economic choice of energy supplies because, it presents health threats, is expensive to safely dispose nuclear waste. Further, It is not a cheap source of energy and it would be imprudent to invest in it when there are cheaper and safer options such as wind and solar energy. Most insurance companies would not want to take the risk of insuring a nuclear energy plant.
He also indicated that UNEP is taking the lead in renewable energy. He explained that the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya is powered solely by solar photovoltaic energy. There are over one thousand staff at the headquarters. On a final note, Mr. Steiner indicated that even though the UNFCCC political process can sometimes be very frustrating, it remains a very important process because without this forum we cannot have the world agree on a number of important global policies on climate change.
During the week, the youth and other members of civil society staged a number of protests outside and inside the COP venue. Some of the protests were ineffective and others were able to attract the attention of the politicians. Also, the official youth constituency of the UNFCCC, YOUNGO, held its elections for their representatives. Ruth Nyambura from Kenya and Nathan Thanki from the UK were elected to represent youth from the Global South and Global North, respectively. We are confident that the two elected focal points will ignite greater action by youth in the climate arena.
Meet our youth representatives reporting daily from COP 20 in Lima