Young voices on the 2017 Climate Summit in Bonn

Climate change affects the future generations. What do young people from all around the world think about climate politics and efforts to combat climate change in their cities? Young voices from the COP.

Interviews by Hannes Lauer

Marielle Papin (PhD student)

Which city do you come from?
Quebec City, Canada

Do you think your city is doing enough to combat climate change?
Not at all. Quebec feels like a typical North American city. It is a huge city, covering a lot of space, but actually has only 500,000 inhabitants. Everyone has a car and needs it. One is depended on car mobility. As I am originally from France, I am not used to that lifestyle. It has also consequences on you free time: For example, it is a popular way to spend your free time in a shopping mall – and of course, people will go there by car.

Interestingly, Quebec is a city surrounded by nature. The people interact a lot with it and know that nature is an important asset for their city. However, they are still not ready to change their way of living.

What could be done? What do you wish your city would do?
Definitely a better public transport and city development. What is definitely also needed is more consciousness and willingness for change.  

Is the city the right level to work on sustainability?
The world is complex. We need action on different levels to match that complexity. Cities are one important level of action.

 

 

Jwalit Pandya (Student)

Which city do you come from?
Vadodara, India

Do you think your city is doing enough to combat climate change?
No! Our most obvious problems are traffic problems. For example, we do not have any sufficient vehicle control.

But not everything is bad; we also have some good projects going on. Particularly projects about tree plantations.

What could be done? What do you wish your city would do?
We need to do something about our traffic problems immediately. Also the industries should follow governmental rules. Because, for sure, there are rules and regulations, but they are mostly not really followed.

Is the city the right level to work on sustainability?
Yes. Action should be taken on the ground, where the people are affected.

In the photo: Jwalit (right)

Jui Wen Chen (Engineer)

Which city do you come from?
Los Angeles, USA

Do you think your city is doing enough to combat climate change?
No. They try something, but it is not enough. The state California does a lot and tries to push the other actors. But you know, in LA, everyone has a car and is so dependent on it. I think that tells everything about the city and the fight against climate change.

What could be done? What do you wish your city would do?
Mitigation of greenhouse gases happens way to slow. I am more pessimistic about reaching our goals for mitigation. So, adaptation has an even higher priority and that is what we are working on. One solution is that we start to build new infrastructure. We invented pavements that absorb water when it rains and thus prevents floods. Additionally, the pavement stores the water in basins to use it in times of droughts – like a sponge.

Is the city the right level to work on sustainability?
Sure, that is where we act and need to build a different kind of infrastructure.

 

 

Anne (World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF))

Which city do you come from?
Nairobi, Kenia

Do you think your city is doing enough to combat climate change?
No, not that I know. But not everything is bad, there are positive examples: We have forest in the middle of the city, a famous on is the so called – Karura forest. Actually there were plans to destroy it, but people fought for the forest and now we still have it. There is also a national park in the middle of the city. But besides from such singular positive examples, I do not see relevant deliberate actions for mitigation. I have the feeling that not a lot is happening in this respect.  

What could be done? What do you wish your city would do?
The most important thing we should improve is our transport system! Unfortunately there is currently no effort on that.

Is the city the right level to work on sustainability?
I think it is important that the policies are set in place on the national level. From there they need to trickle down. And then you need real action happening on the ground – in the cities.

In photo: Anne

Kathia Roman (Student)

Which city do you come from?
Fortaleza, Brazil

Do you think your city is doing enough to combat climate change?
No. Especially the implementation of politics is difficult. Politicians are more looking for the next elections than fort the issue itself.

What could be done? What do you wish your city would do?
First we need more environmental education. The future generation might then influence politicians and give pressure to building a legal framework. The point is that on the first hand, it seems as if the environment only costs money but does not give profit.

Is the city the right level to work on sustainability?
Cities and communities are the smallest unit. Brazil is such a huge country that cities are the only spot where you have the chance to reach the people. Reaching the people and their needs from the national level is difficult, particularly in such a big country.  

 

 

Fran (Student)

Which city do you come from?
Leister, UK 

Do you think your city is doing enough to combat climate change?
No. They did this “green city” thing, but nothing new happened, nothing is visible. Air pollution is bad, cycling lines are bad, a lot is bad in regard to climate change.

What could be done? What do you wish your city would do?
A good option would be to work on decentralization and to create better connections between locations. You could also think of restrictions for cars in the city centre. Definitely needed is more investment into renewables, but here one is also dependent on the national policies.

Is the city the right level to work on sustainability?
That is a though question and I am a little bit conflicted with it. Cities have enough size that they can make changes and are small enough to leave bureaucracy out. That makes cities the right spot for change. On the other hand I am sometimes not sure if it is enough if cities change. For example: Are ecovillages really effective and can they be scaled up? However, cities are the level where one can feel democracy most direct and where democracy plays an important role. This is something good!

In photo: Fran (left)