Final Day of COY14: Memories to Take Back

Final Day of COY14: Memories to Take Back

The third and final day of COY started like a whirlwind as we arrived late to the venue hence it made me feel like I was chasing for the spokes council meeting. It was to no avail as by the time I had reached the room the session had ended. However, I did find part of the BLT team working on a document in preparation for the bilateral meeting with the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UN PGA). Wanting to make up for lost productivity as a result of my tardiness, I decided to join the party.

Basically, the agenda of the meeting was to have the President deliver a keynote speech, after which questions will be directed to her, ranging from human rights, health, and climate refugees. As the UN General Assembly covers a range of topics, we decided it to be appropriate for her to address topics of wide scope, though it was agreed upon that they touch on climate change, one way or another.

Pressed for time, we urgently drafted 6 questions in which we needed to do prior research too. After that, we had to allocate a question to a person and when it came down to choosing between the final two people who hadn’t been allocated a question yet, the other candidate suggested that I should be the one to deliver considering I had done research on it. That was a very nice gesture from her, albeit the question being a back-up in the case that we have extra time with the UN PGA.

Having worked on the document for what must’ve been at least 3 straight solid hours (this was after working on the Renewable Energy (RE) position paper for half a day previously), I felt I deserved a reward in the form of hot chocolate (trust me that the hot chocolate at the COY venue, University of Silesia, was to die for). Hence I made my way to the cafeteria.

Barely 5 minutes into settling down at the cafeteria, a message was sent regarding representatives needed from respective working groups in delivering a closing statement during the COY closing ceremony. Exasperated at not having the time to even take a bite, I made my way to the room to prepare the closing statement on behalf of RE.

To my surprise, the RE working group was not included in the initial list of speakers to deliver a closing statement. However, seeing that not many representatives appeared for the preparatory meeting for the closing ceremony, Clara, the Global North Focal Point, was kind enough to give me a slot, provided I could keep the statement at a maximum of one minute. Preparing the statement was relatively straightforward considering we already have a position paper to work from.

After finishing with that segment, we found ourselves having to attend the bilateral with the UN PGA straightaway. It was pretty amazing to have been able to sit in the same table with the President of the General Assembly. Her Excellency Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés was a very lovely and down to earth person. She communicated that prior to the bilateral, she had just arrived in Katowice 4 hours ago, but was insistent with engaging with YOUNGO. Basically, the session started off with Yugratna, the Global South Focal Point laying out the agenda before the floor: H.E. was to start the session with her keynote, after which the floor will be opened for questions delivered by those who have been chosen earlier. As opposed to asking a total of 8 questions that was drafted earlier on, however, Yugratna instructed that a total of 6 questions will be delivered instead, where one of them was mine.

Once we were done with the bilateral, we immediately had to make way to the closing ceremony of COY. It was a lively event as there were several VIPs in attendance, including H.E. Maria Espinosa Graces (UN PGA), H.E. Patricia Espinosa (UNFCCC Executive Secretary and Michal Kurtyka (COP24 Presidency), among others. Prior to that, however, the respective working groups had the opportunity to deliver closing statements before the audience and I was pleased to say that in delivering the statement on behalf of renewable energy, it went smooth.

Here I was delivering a closing statement on behalf of the RE working group during the COY closing ceremony.

    After the session, I felt pretty pleased with myself, not so much in grabbing an opportunity to speak before an audience, but how in being able to represent a working group as a spokesperson, I take it as a culmination of participatory involvement with YOUNGO, something I can’t say for myself last year, during COY13. In hindsight, this has been a most productive and fruitful COY for me, something I will definitely take back and use it as a source of motivation with regards to taking initiative within space for youth.

    Written by: Syaqil Suhaimi

    Edited by: Jasmin Irisha

    Opening of Young and Future Generations Day – Growth in Youth Climate Movement in ASEAN

    Opening of Young and Future Generations Day – Growth in Youth Climate Movement in ASEAN

    On 6 December, it was a day of celebration for youths at COP in what was called the Young and Future Generations (YoFuGe) Day. On top of showcasing climate action powered by youths, it was a day where we could speak up in communicating our aspirations for a just climate future.

    During the opening ceremony of YoFuGe Day, I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of Malaysian youths. Here, I shared upon how 2018 has been a healthy year for youth climate involvement as Malaysian youths have had the opportunity to attend climate conferences throughout the ASEAN region.

    We had youths attending the Asia-Pacific Climate Week conference in Singapore, in July. In September, we had representatives attending the UNFCCC SB48-2 Bangkok Climate Change Conference. In October, we had a representative attend the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Forum in Manilla. In November, there was the ASEAN Pre-COP Capacity Building Workshop in Singapore (The Malaysian node happened in October) as well as, for the first time ever, our very own Local Conference of Youth (LCOY).

    I stressed how ASEAN as well as nearby regions still very much focus on the rapid growth of their economies. Therefore, the youth need to provide checks and balances, not only to governments but also to large corporations whom still very much rely on extraction in generating profits at a maximum. In demanding for Just Transition, the youth aren’t just asking for the transition from coal to renewable energy, but by transitioning into 2030, we would still want a world with a hospitable and livable climate.

    When it comes to climate diplomacy, the ASEAN and nearby regions have not been as prominent as its Western counterparts, but it’s about time that we start putting the environment, let alone climate change, at the top of our agenda. Not only would we need to strengthen our NDCs in light of the Special Report on 1.5, but we need Parties to commit to launching domestic processes to strengthen NDCs. The importance of multi-stakeholder participation cannot be stressed enough.

    Speaking on behalf of Malaysian youths in its growing climate movement across ASEAN.

    Where others argue that economic development will not be sacrificed in the name of climate change and that we shall not pay for the sins of others, I implore that they reflect on such a position. Where a country’s policies are still geared towards providing fuel subsidies, plantations are being built in the name of carbon sinks (having totally disregarded that huge areas of land have to be deforested anyway), and where public transportation projects are being scrapped as a result of a tight national budget (only for there to be conversations of another national car), I implore such parties to ponder upon and “welcome”, rather than “take note”, the special report on 1.5. Because in sticking to the status quo, by being content with the mentality of ‘business-as-usual’, who’s to say that we won’t even have an economy to build as early as 2030?

    Written by: Syaqil Suhaimi

    Edited by: Mike

    First Day at COY14: A personal reflection

    First Day at COY14: A personal reflection

    After traveling for a total of about 48 hours, I was more than glad to settle into our quaint little apartment, lock, stock and barrel. After what seemed like an eternity of brisk walking, navigating and mad-bursts to catch buses and trains, it was pretty difficult not to lose one’s self in a hot steamy shower followed by well-deserved slumber.

    MYD’s COP24 team at COY14, from left to right: Syaqil, Varun, Cai May, Liyana and Shaqib

    Ironically enough, the mad-bursts to catch trams and/or buses, on top of the occasional grab, did not stop – as evident during the first day of COY 14. Having left our Airbnb at 6.15 in the morning to catch the 7 o’clock bus to Katowice seemed straight forward, until it dawned upon us that the chance of getting lost in an unfamiliar city is too familiar a likelihood. Not only did we miss Bus 141 which was to take us to the tram station that was supposed to take us to Blonia Park – where the COP bus will be stationed – Tram 24 cynically decided to appear on the other side of the road, leaving us in a state of disbelief. Determined not to have our spirits dampened by a triviality, we decided to walk to Blonia Park, being aware that it was a straight path anyway, albeit it being the road less travelled – or so it looked that way.

    After having walked for about 10 minutes whilst simultaneously looking for our elusive bus to Katowice, an unremarkably grey bus zoomed by us and to our incredulity, it bore a neon green COP24 banner. As if it were already second-nature to us, we made a beeline for our bus, though with each passing second it seemed to have shrunk more and more until it was no longer conceivable to the naked eye. No matter, we kept on marching like the proverbial troops we were, trudging towards base camp in the field of battle, where lo’ and behold, there she was like an obedient wife waiting for her husband, that unremarkably grey, beautiful miraculous bus stationed not too far off from where we thought we lost her.

    The rest of the day flowed smoothly in such a sequence: I half attended a climate change education game followed by the first YOUNGO induction cum briefing session (I half attended the former as it clashed with the latter). That followed by a breakout session into respective YOUNGO working groups, where I decided to pursue my interest in renewable energy. I was a little apprehensive with regards to the renewable energy WG as there was little indication that it was going to be active prior to COP, but my concerns were banished during the YOUNGO session when it was announced that such a group does exist and that it has a predetermined agenda.

    Nonetheless, it was slightly concerning that the person handling the renewable energy working group is also handling the oceans working group, albeit temporarily as he waits for his colleague to take charge as she will only be coming in late for COY. I was also slightly taken aback at the revelation that the working group facilitator had to leave for Bonn the next day as he is to speak at the Global Landscape Forum.

    No matter. I take this as an opportunity for the team to take ownership of the working group and produce meaningful outcomes. During COY13, I found myself to be disconnected and detached from the spirit of the conference, feeling lost and overwhelmed (it didn’t help that I came in halfway into it either). But with COY14, I feel that I’m coming in with a bit more confidence and a sense of purpose. Just like how some say that the failure of the Copenhagen Accord was necessary for the advent of the Paris Agreement, the shortcomings I faced at COY13 and COP23 leaves me no choice but to succeed at only my second ever COY and  COP.

    Written by Syaqil

    Edited by Varun