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Climate Change Conference raises issues

 By Hassan Haque, Windermere Secondary School, Grade 12

On Dec 11, 2009, a group of dedicated Windermere Secondary students hosted a youth-driven Climate Change Conference - C3 - to raise awareness and educate youth from across the Lower Mainland about the escalating problem of climate change. More than 270 students attended the event, with most coming from Metro Vancouver schools. There were also a few attendees from Vancouver Island.

During the conference, Windermere Grade 10 student Kevin Liu commented "This was the big bang of youth networking together to stop climate change! The students were very hyped up when we connected with Copenhagen. I liked the sight of everyone bringing their own Tupperware and getting delicious food!"

The successful day kicked off with an exciting question-and-answer segment via Skype with members of the Canadian Youth Delegation (CYD) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Some topics discussed were the current situations of the climate talks in Copenhagen, and the importance of bringing a new deal regarding climate change to the table. The correspondents in Copenhagen were especially interested in rallying the problems of the Albertan Tar Sands - which most would say is Canada's worst current environmental disaster.

Building on the excitement, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Andrew Weaver, was introduced as keynote speaker. Mr. Weaver and the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on climate change) were recognized for their 2007 report on climate change.  His speech dealt with issues related to the climate change debate such as finding consensus in the scientific community about the evidence proving that climate change is real compared to the media portrayal of the subject.

After being inspired, the participants were separated into different workshops where they were greeted by guest speakers discussing important topics such as climate change and impact on First Nations, water, waste, climate justice and health.  This took up the bulk of the day as each group rotated workshops.       

The committed organizers also worked hard to create a zero-waste day, which included sign in by computer, bringing their own name tags and a lunch that was waste free with the help of the school's culinary arts program. From bread bowls to compost bins, and a "bring your own utensils" memo, a zero-waste lunch was quite a fitting feat for this C3 conference and a major highlight of the day.  

After lunch, the groups wrapped up their workshops by collaborating with the Windermere students to discuss all the sustainable activities and projects that schools are doing in regards to the subject of sustainability and climate change such as: recycling, composting, bike programs and creating school gardens.

C3 was a huge success. The goal of networking with other youth and educating them on the issue of climate change was met in incredible fashion as C3 coincided with the crucial talks of reconstructing a more successful protocol concerning climate change in Copenhagen.

Emily Chan, a grade 11 Windermere student describes how ECHO groups will help spread the word and create positive actions from the conference. "ECHO stands for Education Creating Highschool Opportunities, and is a collective group of students from schools across the Lower Mainland. Our first meeting is on January 15 2010, when we will begin this networking of schools. We are meant to create a connection between the schools, in which there will be events planned together, projects supported, and a strong network whom we can rely upon."

If you went to the conference, or are a student who wants to be part of active change in your school, email echo4teens@gmail.com.

Thank you to all of the respected guest speakers for contributing to this conference and to all the participants, students and adults alike, for coming out. Special thanks to Metro Vancouver for supporting a zero-waste event by subsidizing the lunch for participants. Lastly, thank you to the Windermere students for organizing such a grand conference.

To find out more about C3 go to http://c3vancity.wordpress.com/

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