Youth in Durban

John Streicker

Things are heating up here in Durban. Today Minister Kent made his statement to the entire conference. Members of the Canadian Youth Delegation were there and they decided to demonstrate their frustration and rejection of the Canadian position.

A block of youth stood up in the gallery turned their backs on the Minister as he spoke and revealed t-shirts which read “Turn your back on Canada”.

It was quiet, peaceful, and pretty effective (I was right beside them when it happened). Security came quickly and escorted the youth out of the room and out of the conference. The large audience applauded the youth. In fact the youth got more applause than Minister Kent.

“By stalling international progress, the actions of this government put the future of our country and our generation in danger; we won’t take that sitting down,” said James Hutt, one of the protesters from the Canadian Youth Delegation. “As long as Canada is at the negotiation table promoting industry over human rights, we will never see the climate agreement the world needs. It’s time to leave Canada behind.”

Unfortunately, this is becoming one of the recurring themes here. Canada’s reputation is suffering. I don’t suspect any of these youth will be putting a Canadian badge on their backpacks anytime soon.

So what were the youth turning their backs on? They are concerned that Canada would rather promote fossil fuel industries than address climate change.

Later on when I spoke to the youth I found out that those that carried out the action had their accreditation revoked (they were evicted from the conference). They realized that it might come to this and they decided to go forward anyway. They care a lot about the issue of a sustainable and just world.

It is great that we have youth and many others here from civil society that here the courage to speak honestly and positively about the hard truths we need to face in shifting our energy economy.

Yours, a north by northwest scientist / politician reporting from the south by southeast,
John Streicker

PS To read the full statement from Minister Kent, follow this link: