Nunavut youth in Durban hear Canada’s a “dinosaur” on climate change
"A serious problem for Nunavummiut"
DURBAN, South Africa — Two students from Arviat, Jordan Konek and Curtis Kuunaq, from the Nanisiniq Arviat history project, arrived Dec. 1 in the South African coastal city to observe the United Nations climate change summit underway there.
“What is really hard to hear is Canada being called a dinosaur by other youth delegates attending the conference,” Konek said.
Official delegates to the Durban talks are trying to craft a successor to the UN convention on climate change, which led to the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement, signed in 1992.
But Environment Minister Peter Kent has said the agreement, the only one in the world that requires countries to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases that cause global warming, is in “the past” while suggesting a full withdrawal from Kyoto is “an option” to pursue a more effective treaty.
That stance has generated criticism from emerging nations like Brazil and China, whose negotiators in Durban say the richer countries in the world should not use the Kyoto agreement as a smokescreen to avoid action to address global warming, share their technological expertise or provide financial aid to help solve the problem.
“This is a serious problem for Nunavummiut because the Arctic is going to suffer the most serious problems if something isn’t done about climate change,” Konek said.
He and Kuunaq say they’re eager to talk to young people from around the world who are among the 20,000 people now in Durban.
“We want the Inuit perspective on climate change to be heard. This is something that most people don’t really understand. They don’t have the first-hand experience with climate change that we have,” Konek said. “And climate change might be the most important issue for the future of Inuit youth.”
The two Arviat youth plan to remain in Durban until the conference ends Dec. 9. They will then travel to Lesotho, a state within South Africa, to meet with young African filmmakers.