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