Yesterday we did a workshop for highschool students and preschool students at the “Copenhagen Youth Climate Camp 09″ (in Danish). Besides learning how to do a workshop in a short time, another interesting aspect of this workshop was to find out how much the youth in general know about the climate issue and how we can communicate our message.
The youth know a lot already on how to cut down the greenhouse gas emissions, and are keen to find ways in which they can lower their own emissions and increase peoples awareness on climate problems. Issues as lowering the CO2 emissions are well known and discussed. You call this Mitigation; how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is really important in both the short and long term.
But we also need to have focus on the people getting affected by the changes in the climate. We are not so affected in the North, but if you go to the south people are dying from these changes. The big floodings in Bangladesh, drought in Kenya, Tanzania and a lot of other countries in Africa. Therefore there is an aspect in the climate debate which have to focus on Adaptation; how we can adapt to these changes. And added to this is the climate debt, we as north have polluted and thereby been a big reason for these changes. Because of this we owe the South a lot of money, and have to pay these back in addition to our current aid.
But general awareness of the importance of adaptation is not significant. This was very clear yesterday with the youth. They know and understand the mitigation part, but they have a harder time getting the grasp of adaptation and what they can do. It is also very much easier to mitigate. You can turn of the light, save water etc. but how do you do anything about adaptation? Because who is it that should pay of the debt? – Decision makers. Therefore adaptation will mostly focus on creating awareness and affect desicion makers. That is more abstract that the concreteness of turning of your light.
If the overall focus of the population is mitigation, then the politicians will focus on this as well, so we need to create an awareness on adaptation…because it is important to affect the decision makers to pay of the climate debt. Having a focus on adaptations can make a difference for the persons whose everyday life is affected, maybe it is more short term than mitigation, but not least important.