Monday, 20 September 2010

Does yellow plus blue equal green?

One of the many perks of being a young climate volunteer is that you get to explore every corner of the UK; from Newcastle, to Wales and the ins and outs of the London underground. Yesterday, I travelled up to Liverpool to take part in one of the fringe events at the Liberal Democrat party conference.

Organised by UNICEF UK, Christian Aid and the Climate Clinic, the session was titled 'What does a Lib Dem response to global climate change look like?'. This was only the first of many difficult questions that were raised and explored during the evening.

The Panel leading the session consisted of Neil Stocklev of the Liberal Sustainability Network and the Zero Carbon Britain working group, Alex Cobham, Christian Aid's Chief Policy Advisor, Fiona Hall MEP and little old me! Needless to say, I felt quite daunted sitting on such an experienced and influential panel and in front of an audience of MPs, NGOs and researchers.

But then I considered the idea that the whole discussion was about my future; about if and how the Lib Dems are safeguarding my future rights and wellbeing in 2050. At the risk of sounding arrogant, it was them who had to impress me, not the other way around.

The Liberal Democrats have always been one of the most progressive parties when it comes to policy on global climate change, but now they are in power, how are they translating this sentiment into government action? Fiona spoke of Chris Huhne's drive to push the EU for a 30% greenhouse gas reductions target by 2020 and also their pledge to cut central government emissions by 10% in the next 12 months - the 10:10 campaign.

However, if Nick Clegg and David Cameron are really going to live up to their promise of being 'the greenest government ever', more needs to be done. Alex of Christian Aid called for ambition and leadership from the UK Government and for them to accept their responsibilities on the global stage. And that's where I suggest young people come in.

Not only is it important to recognise that the decisions made today will impact future generations, but aslo to value the role that young people can have in shaping that future. From my experience at UNICEF Children's Climate Forum, young people embrace the opportunity to act as global citizens with moral long-term principles. We can accept the challenges, sacrifices and opportunities that lie ahead, and I hope that, by working alongside young people, the UK Government can too.

Katie x

Monday, 13 September 2010

UNICEF UK goes to the Thames Festival

Luckily the weather was fine in London on Saturday night – I was at the Thames Festival (pictured left our stall with volunteers Mya and Sonal who were collecting signatures on Sunday) getting signatures for UNICEF UK's petition to Nick Clegg on the Millennium Development Goals.
You might have heard of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a series of goals set by the UN in 2000. There are 8 goals to be achieved by 2015;

• Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
• Achieve universal primary education
• Promote gender equality and empower women
• Reduce child mortality
• Improve maternal health
• Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases
• Ensure environmental sustainability
• Develop a Global Partnership for Development

On 20th of September world leaders are attending a review meeting in New York to discuss the progression of the MDGs and accelerate progress towards achieving the goals by 2015.

At the moment, we're not on target to meet the goals. For example approximately 1.5 million children still die every year due to preventable illnesses caused by poor sanitation or lack of clean water and 280,000 children under 15 die of AIDS related illnesses.

UNICEF UK’s petition is going to Nick Clegg as the UK's representative at the meeting next week to ask him to;

• increase funding for safe water and toilets for those who have been left behind and persuade other governments to do the same
• prioritise the rights of girls and other disadvantaged groups of children living in the least developed countries in his speech and in the agenda for action on the UN goals in order to secure the greatest progress
• put in place taxes on the financial sector (the 'Robin Hood Tax') that could raise up to £20 billion a year and for that money to be spent helping the poor at home and abroad and tackling climate change

We had a really successful evening at the Thames Festival, and got a very good reception from the festival-goers. We managed to get a total of over 1,000 signatures and raised awareness of the MDGs and the need to put pressure on world leaders to ensure they up the ante and make sure the goals are met by 2015.

If you haven't already, please sign the e-petition at before it closes on 19th September.

Ruby :-)