Top 10 Climate Issues for BC Youth … and What We’re Doing About It

Top 10 Climate Issues for BC Youth … and What We’re Doing About It

Written by the BCCIC Youth Delegation to COP 24 

This is a brief summary of what the BC Youth Delegation heard during our consultations and the key messaging we’re bringing to COP24. You can find a more detailed summary here [PDF].

COP24 is said to be the most important UNFCCC conference of parties since Paris in 2015, when 196 states came to the historic, unprecedented and ambitious Paris Agreement to limit our emissions to ensure we face an increase in temperature of no more than 2 degrees. For the Paris Agreement to work, all countries have to come to an agreement on a set of guidelines that bring the Agreement to life. This year’s COP is critical because countries are deciding on the actual rules that put the Paris Agreement into motion, in collective guidelines known as the ‘Paris Rulebook’.  This includes how they will communicate their respective plans, how they’ll track, assess, and report their progress, and how they will increase the ambition of their commitments over time.

All of this comes in the wake of the IPCC’s new Special Report on 1.5 degrees, which outlined the devastating impacts of an increase of just 1.5 degrees on our planet and re-enforced the urgent need to stick to this ambitious plan.

The BCCIC ‘s delegation to COP24 prioritized gathering BC youth voices, so that we could carry their concerns, thoughts, needs and ambitions to this year’s international climate negotiations. Over the past several months, we held a variety of in-person consultations, as well as an online engagement survey, to hear BC youth’s biggest concerns, hopes and recommendations. Through engaged listening and dialogue, we gathered a diversity of responses that helped us understand what our fellow BC youth care most about. Check out the top 10 things that we heard, and keep on reading for our key messaging going into COP24 down below.

*Note: We recognize that these views are not fully representative of all BC youth.

The BCCIC Youth Delegation to COP 24 held in-person and online consultations and events with nearly 300 youth to figure out ideas and priorities around climate change for young people in BC.

 

TOP 10 CLIMATE ISSUES FOR BC YOUTH

#1 – 49.1% of BC youth think about the potential consequences of climate change on a daily basis, while 84.5% think about this on a weekly basis

# 2 – 71% of BC youth don’t feel confident in Canada’s ability to meet its Paris Agreement targets, while 48% are not confident in BC’s ability to meet its emission targets

#3 – Only 6.3% of BC youth feel that their voices and/or concerns are fully represented in Canadian political discussions and decisions relating to climate change

In summary, BC youth believe that there is a lack of consideration for climate change across social development work, while the impacts of climate change are poorly communicated. The impacts of climate change on vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities is stark and deeply concerning to BC youth. Climate change exacerbates existing vulnerabilities and hegemonic privileges, affecting frontline communities and those less fortunate significantly more. BC youth see a disproportionate weight given to denial and uncertainty, when climate change is evidence-based and factual.

 

Considering these concerns, what do BC youth hope for?

#4 – BC youth are looking for better climate literacy through education curriculums.

#5 – Stronger carbon pricing, transportation electrification, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects.

#6 – Mainstreaming climate change through dialogue, policy, politics, and legislation, all while embracing an intersectional, gender equality lens.

 

What ideas do BC youth have for climate action?

BC youth have a lot of great, forward-thinking ideas. Some include:

#7 – More transparent, evidence-based decision making on climate policy.

#8 – Ending fossil fuel subsidies, while investing in rural community resilience (e.g. preparing rural and coastal communities for wildfires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters).

#9 – More stringent laws around extractive industries and build capacity for compliance and enforcement (e.g. more stringent annual allowable forestry cut, protecting salmons and rivers).

#10 – Most importantly, BC youth want access to decision makers and to be meaningfully engaged in climate policy development processes.

 

The BCCIC youth delegation have heard from you, so what’s our strategy for COP24?

We’ve structured our key messaging at COP24 in the format of the Talanoa, which is a format of dialogue taking place at this year’s COP24. The Talanoa Dialogue has been established for countries and world leaders to take stock of where we are at and create aspirations collectively, in a dialogic format. The 3 main components of the dialogue are:

  • Where are we at?
  • Where are we going?
  • How do we get there?

1) WHERE ARE WE AT: Concerns of BC Youth

The key concerns we will raise to Canada and the international community:

  • 71% of BC youth believe that Canada won’t meet its Paris Agreement targets and 48% don’t feel confident BC will meet its provincial targets (and this is targets that are meant to keep Canada to limiting warming by 2 degrees).
  • A large majority of youth are most concerned about climate change impacts on increasing frequency of extreme weather events (90.3%), Environmental degradation (85.7%) and Population health consequences (84%).
  • Majority of youth surveyed do not support major projects in BC including Trans Mountain Expansion Project, Site C dam and LNG Canada.
  • The most reported barriers to taking action in our local communities are:
    • 1) Financial support and other resources: This includes resources for youth-led climate initiatives and specifically for youth that may face greater barriers to participation.
    • 2) Not feeling our voices and concerns are being appropriately represented in Canadian political discussions related to climate change: A cycle of mistrust in civic institutions is initiated when young people feel that their voices and views aren’t being represented at different levels of government.
  • Promising efforts include city-led initiatives and efforts, carbon pricing mechanisms (including BC’s Carbon Tax), support to community energy initiatives, and programs that support climate literacy.

2) WHERE ARE WE GOING: Hopes and aspirations of BC youth for our climate future:

  • Intersectionality: Youth recognize that in tackling climate change, we must maintain an intersectional lens and seek opportunities to tackle other critical social issues simultaneously. That means keeping a gendered lens and prioritizing communities most marginalized and impacted by climate change.
  • Seats at the table: Youth aspire for more seats at the climate decision making table, which includes being meaningfully engaged on a local and national level, as well as having spaces to participate in international climate negotiations.
  • Greater ambition: Youth want to see  greater ambition in the national determined contributions (NDCs) that set targets that limit warming to 1.5 degrees

Pan-Canadian framework: Youth hope that infrastructural and other long-term decisions made by the Canadian and provincial governments are in line with the targets set out in the pan-Canadian Framework (that fit within targets limiting warming to 1.5 degrees)

3) HOW DO WE GET THERE: Actions and recommendations we will ask for:

  • Participation channels: More direct avenues and channels for youth participation in climate change discussions and decisions.
    • BC youth want to be meaningfully engaged and included in climate policy development processes, and in decisions that ultimately impact their future too. Engaging youth more meaningfully includes: meeting youth where they’re at and supporting youth organizations to engage their youth communities; having designated youth spaces at the table for climate negotiations, delegations and discussions; and engaging youth in decision making processes.
  • Financial and technical support: Financial and technical support for youth, youth-led/specific climate organizations and initiatives, and in particular youth that are traditionally marginalized. New opportunities exist in the form of micro-grants and large, high-barrier grants, but there is still a gap in the types of funding offered to support youth initiatives. Support also includes increased investment in climate jobs, to ensure youth employment in climate action and encourage youth leadership in climate mitigation and adaptation.
  • Improved climate literacy: Greater climate literacy to be better integrated into our educational curriculums, in order to better inform future consumers and infuse public discussions with facts, being particularly cognizant of the critical climate timeframes of 2030. Climate change needs to be further mainstreamed  through dialogue, policy, politics, and legislation, all while embracing an intersectional, gender equality lens.
  • Carbon pricing: Stronger carbon pricing, electrification, energy efficiency, and support for renewable energy projects. Youth want to see more transparent, evidence-based decision making on climate policy, and want to see that decisions with long-term impacts such as infrastructural projects, are decisions that truly reflect our climate as a priority. This means ending fossil fuel subsidies, while investing in rural community resilience (e.g. preparing rural and coastal communities for wildfires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters). This also includes more stringent laws around extractive industries and build capacity for compliance and enforcement (e.g. more stringent annual allowable forestry cut, protecting salmons and rivers).

The BC youth delegation are excited to articulate and highlight these concerns at COP24, and to continue to advocate for youth empowerment and inclusion.

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For more detailed information gathered from the COP 24 Youth Consultations Please see this document [PDF]

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