Bill and Carol Somplatsky-Jarman are attending the United Nations Climate Change talks in Copenhagen with the World Council of Churches delegation and will be sending updates that will be posted on Eco-Journey and the Mission Crossroads website. Bill is the Coordinator of Social Witness Ministries at PC(USA) and Carol is the Associate for Mission Connections at PC(USA). Bill and Carol's first update is below:
There are reportedly at least 30,000 people attending the COP 15, including 5,000 press representatives, the largest ever. As a UN event, it is a snapshot of the global human family. But this year, the huge increase in youth is the most noticeable difference.
The young people are trying to make their voices heard, visible in their orange T-shirts, with the question “How Old Will You Be In 2050?” on the front, and “Don’t ‘Bracket’ My Future” on the back. The question emphasizes that they have a shot at being around in 2050 when the goal of 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needs to be reached. The back points to the UN process where nations can put “brackets” around words in the negotiation documents to signal disagreement. Others are sporting green T-Shirts with “350.org” on them, referring to the parts per million level of carbon dioxide that scientists say will prevent human impacts on the atmosphere. FLASH: as we are finishing this up, hundreds of youth just froze in place on cue, most of them in the center of the atrium. The youth know that they will inherit the ecological legacy we will leave behind, and are getting their message out through smart use of new communication technologies.
Just as background: there are governmental delegates here to negotiate the issues, as well as representatives from many organizations affiliated with the United Nations. Over time, the NGO community has developed a series of acronyms with a similar sound for the constituent groups:
BINGOs: These are business and industry related groups, including Chambers of Commerce, companies, etc…
RINGOs: Environmental and other research groups.
TUNGOs: Trade union groups are also included among the NGO groups.
ENGOs: Environmental NGOs, which include many groups whose names have become part of our environmental vocabulary, such as Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and the Sierra Club.
CAN: Climate Action Network, a member of the ENGO group, which is a global umbrella organization bringing together environmental groups, including the church groups related to the World Council of Churches (these last two are us).
LGMAs: Local government and municipal authorities.
And there is a new official group on the scene:
YOUNGOs: Youth non-governmental organizations providing more official status to the burgeoning presence of international youth.
Other groups are drawn together in informal ways, these include the indigenous groups, farmers (perhaps soon to be known as FINGOs), women and gender NGO’s, faith-based groups, etc…