Youth insiders at Copenhagen

Voicing youth concerns and holding governments to account are among the goals of UNSW's young climate change activists heading to Copenhagen this month.


Three UNSW students will be among the thousands of government representatives, academics, business leaders and activists attending the UN Climate Change Conference this month.

The trio will discuss the new global treaty, emissions targets, indigenous issues and funding for developing countries to adapt to climate change.

"Considering that climate change will have the greatest impact on our generation and the next, we need to take youth voices seriously now," said 27-year-old PhD student Declan Kuch.

"Long after Kevin Rudd has left office, we will be picking up the pieces."

Attending the conference with the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition (AYCC), Declan will be looking to influence the outcomes documents and the policy position of the Australian government.

He is also aiming to establish networks with specialists from developing countries to ensure they get "a fair deal" in the global agreements.

Masters of Policy Studies student George Liepnik will use new media to report news from the conference to over 50,000 young Australians.

"Information on climate change is complex and often difficult to access for young people," said the 22-year old, who is also attending Copenhagen with AYCC.

"We want to be the youth insiders at the negotiations. We will be podcasting, face-booking and tweeting directly from Copenhagen to ensure our government is held accountable."

George stressed the importance of creating a "generation-wide movement" for better climate change policy.

"What we've found is that most young people really care about the issue, but feel really disempowered."

Honours student Claire O'Neill, 23, will conduct research at Copenhagen for her thesis exploring the tensions between the knowledge of indigenous communities and scientists.

"I'm interested in what cultural protocols and coping mechanisms are being used by different indigenous communities to deal with climate change," she said.

Claire, who is a research assistant at UNSW's Climate Change Research Centre, will observe meetings relating to indigenous communities and meet with indigenous representatives.

"Sometimes science takes people out of the equation, even when there is a lot that indigenous communities can contribute to climate change management."

Media contact: Ellie Wong | 9385 3263 |