How would you describe the negotiations between the U.S and China on addressing Climate Change? What do you want to see?
As a participant of COP15 and watching the outcomes of Tianjin, I have viewed these negotiations as frustrating and undependable. For instance, I attended COP 15 in Copenhagen. I witnessed a lack of cooperation. I observed direct confrontations, new proposals, and immediate rejections. For instance, Todd Stern, the US key negotiator that “I don’t envision public funds; certainly not from the United States, going to China”. He Yafei, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, responded by calling it “extremely irresponsible” and asked for countries to live up to their historic responsibility. This is the kind of discourse that was very discouraging for me as a U.S citizen with special concern about the effectiveness of Sino-American relations on environmental affairs.
While I had some doubt about what was happening at the political level, one workshop changed my perspective. For the first time, there was the China-US Youth Workshop: Our Shared Future. Numerous Chinese and American gathered to talk about the climate talks and their potential role in finding solutions. It fueled my passion to bridge these gaps of mutual understanding, form global networks to exchange ideas and solve problems. I saw youth as the next leaders who could create and represent the change and the need to have leaders knowledgeable on Sino American relations to create innovative solutions.
As a Core Team member of CUYCE, I have did not expect to see the momentum grow so rapidly over the course of month and half. I announced to my delegation the idea for needed enhanced collaboration for China-US climate-related collaboration and build off of the Cascade Climate Network’s international reach. With the dedication of three CCN members, we reached out across the United States and connected with China Youth Climate Action Network and Golden Bridges. It was remarkable the level of interests, which I believe stemmed from understanding what is at stake and wanting to see a positive change that builds awareness and capacity for our two countries youth to become leaders in solving the climate crisis. I hold this true and believe that youth must be the leaders in solving the climate crisis by developing better cross-cultural empathy and diplomatic leadership skills.
For the first week there has been a number of activities including Core Team meetings, small group meetings, workshop 1, meeting with Jonathon Pershing, and press conference, and workshop 1.5. As we have gone forward with these gatherings, we have realized that there are three important aspects that we cover: the social element, resume-building skills, and a clear long-term vision.
Since Friday, there has been an increased effort to start building greater face-to-face time together. For instance, a large part of the Core Team convened at the Royal Sands. It was an unconventional type of gathering. It was informal and fun. We had a chance to be ourselves. We did a lot of fun activities that we could all partake in together such as cooking, singing, dancing, games, language exchange, and swimming. I loved seeing everyone come out of their box and show another side. For instance, I remember listening to Yiting Wang perform a sample of a musical piece of Beijing Opera as well as watch a video clip of Yingao Chen present as an anchor for a news broadcast in China. In addition, we also played a ‘numbers game’ where if two people say the number at the same time, they have to do something chosen by the group. Think Beijing Opera. This is what Jared Scky and I were dared to do. We sang “我们游泳吧“several times with a Beijing Opera accent. We even had a fun dancing competition.
You may wonder what does all of this have to do with Sino-American relations at the UNFCCC level. My response is that one of the first important steps in building relationships/ friendships is feeling comfortable with each other. We have to be able to laugh, smile, and cheer as a first step to any kind of long-term collaboration. As a result of our daily interactions, I believe we are making wonderful strides; we are creating a positive, warm, and inviting that we are feel safe and supported.