Rob McNeil was in Copenhagen for Conservation International and Team Earth. He took the ePals ?Students Speak!? DVD with him.
Rob McNeil's note to ePals Students:
We all know that climate change is a big problem, and that the whole world needs to come together to do something about it.
Everyone at ePals probably also knows that last December in Copenhagen, Denmark, there was a meeting where more than 120 presidents and other world leaders met up with scientists, environmental campaigners and other people who are working on thousands of things that have something to do with climate change.
I was there for Conservation International, which is an environmental group that works with ePals on the Team Earth campaigns.
The Hard Part
When you?re sitting in class wondering why world leaders are allowing our beautiful planet to get wrecked by climate change, it?s important to realize that each of these presidents is responsible for making sure that the people in their country get the best deal.
Often that means that one country will only agree to reduce the amount of climate change gasses it releases (which can be an expensive thing to do) if all of the other countries sign on as well. This is a problem, because if a couple of the countries that release a lot of these gasses refuse to stop polluting, the whole thing falls to pieces ? and that?s pretty much what happened in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen was hard for a lot of reasons. More than 15,000 people were cooped-up inside a stuffy building, arguing about who should pay how much to stop climate change:
The rich countries wanted the poor countries to promise not to release lots of climate change gasses ? which would make it hard for the poor countries to create industries that would stop them being so poor ? and the poor countries wanted the rich countries to pay them back for the damage that was being done to them by climate change, from the money that the rich countries had made from their industries (which released most of the climate change gasses that have caused the problem).
So it was a tough job from the start.
The Good News
But while the Copenhagen meeting didn?t sort everything out, it did make some important differences.
One of the best bits is that most countries agreed that something needed to be done to stop the world?s forests from being cut down. A group of kids from an ePals school in Denmark was with us when some of the world?s most powerful business people (like Richard Branson of Virgin), leaders (like the prime minister of Norway), scientists (like Jane Goodall) and environmentalists (Like Conservation International?s leader, Peter Seligmann) were talking about how to stop forests from being cut down. This is really important because about 16% of all of the climate change gasses that get released come from people chopping down forests.
And ePals was extremely active in campaigning to make forest protection part of the Copenhagen talks, with more than 27,000 kids from all over the world sending emails about stopping climate change, and with other kids making some brilliant videos about why your generation really cares about this issue.
One of the things that I was doing at Copenhagen was getting these videos and the other ePals messages to the presidents, scientists and other people involved in the conference.
All of them were very grateful, and who knows ? maybe your videos and messages helped us to win this important victory for tropical forests worldwide. Thank you.
Now, we have to keep on pushing all of our leaders to get back together, and take action to make sure that the forests don?t get cut down and also that the climate change gasses from industries get reduced enough to stop the climate change problem.