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COP16 & Green New Deal workshop report

During the UNFCCC COP16 in Cancun, the Federation of Young European Greens organised talks, workshops and actions in Brussels in coordination with Young Friends of the Earth Europe. The event was held from the 3rd until the 7th of December. Our objectives were to create a learning environment, a space to discuss the talks in Cancun as well as realise a coordinated action decided during the workshop. We also aimed to bring Young Greens and Green Party politicians together with NGOs and the public to strengthen relationships and partnerships and increase understanding and awareness of the Green New Deal amongst Europeans and especially youth.

After participants arrived on Friday afternoon, we had dinner with YFoEE followed by a round of introductions and an overview of the climate talks in Cancun. We then had a brief introduction to the UNFCCC process from it's beginning in the early 1990s up to the current negotiations. This proved to be a very useful exercise with a question and answer session afterwards. Following this, we took the opportunity to socialise with YFoEE, getting to know their participants better and familiarising ourselves with the programme for the next few days.

On Saturday we spent the day exploring carbon trading and offsetting. In the morning we had an update on the negotiations in Cancun followed by an overview of the days programme and an introduction to the topics of the day. After lunch we attended a talk on the EU ETS followed by a heated discussion. The EU ETS was criticised by participants for several failings, including: non auctioned over-allocation, windfall profits, price volatility, offsets and in general for failing to meet its goals. The use of CDM credits proved particularly controversial and linked in to the late afternoon discussion on offsetting. In general, participants had the opportunity to better understand a fairly complex economic issue at the heart of the EU's attempts to reduce it's emissions and to take part in the debate following the talk.

Later in the afternoon, we attended a talk followed by group discussions on the Clean Development Mechanism and offsetting generally. The speaker was from an offsetting consultancy company, so the talk again proved quite provocative and certainly inspired some penetrating questions. The group discussions helped to highlight some of the key concerns regarding CDM, for example the incentive to exaggerate projected pollution in the 'developing' world. Again, this proved to be an excellent introduction to the topic. In the evening, following dinner with YFoEE, some of us took the opportunity to follow the COP16 SBI/SBSTA closing plenary sessions live online.

Sunday's theme was Green Capitalism - how we can reform the existing economic infrastructure to prepare for a sustainable world. Following the usual Cancun update, we had a brief introduction to the afternoon session on the Green New Deal and heard various perspectives on the topic from FYEG, YFoEE and others. In the early afternoon, Philippe Lamberts gave a great introductory lecture to the Green New Deal which proved both popular and inspired some good questions from the audience. After a lengthy question and answer session, we had a a break followed by working group discussions on the GND – an opportunity to explore some of the topics in greater detail. After dinner, we had a panel discussion which again explored some of the key themes and ideas of the GND. Ska Keller and speakers from FoE and a local trade union all gave their perspectives followed by questions from the audience. In total, we spent more than six hours discussing various aspects of the GND, more than enough for one day!

On Monday morning, participants had the opportunity to visit the European Parliament and see the sites of Brussels. After lunch, we had talks and discussions on 'false solutions' including nuclear power, carbon capture and storage and agrofuels. There were also parallel sessions on media training – press releases and press interviews – which were very informative.

On Tuesday morning, we took part in an international day of action to oppose false solutions to the climate crisis with the message: nuclear power is unsustainable and unacceptably dangerous. The action was part of the ‘1000 Cancun’s action day’ called for by the international peasant farmers network La Via Campesina. We demonstrated outside the European Commission to highlight its ongoing support for nuclear power as well as outside the Foratom offices, a powerful pro-nuclear lobby group, and BNP Paribas whose significant financial contributions enable the ongoing development of the nuclear industry. We also issued a joint press release with YFoEE regarding our actions to the journalists present and online.

All in all, the event proved to be a good opportunity to get activists, Young Greens and NGOs together to explore some of the important issues related to the ongoing UNFCCC process and sustainability in Europe. The FYEG Executive Committee would like to thank YFoEE for all their great work they put into organising the event. We would also like to thank the participants, EGP and GGEP - especially Philippe Lamberts and Ska Keller for their valuable input and support - and last but not least the FYEG Working Group on Climate Change. We look forward to further events in coordination with YFoEE and other NGOs during the COP17 negotiations.