Aneesa Khan ’17, a second-year United World College Scholar from Muscat, Oman, said the youth delegation is usually given two minutes to speak at the opening and closing of negotiations.

“This time, however, the chair did not leave enough time for the intervention to be read,” Khan wrote in an email from the talks.

Thirteen COA students are attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP20, as members of the environmental action group known as Earth in Brackets.

Attending the talks, in addition to Khan, are Augustin Martz ’17, of Winterthur, Switzerland; Adrian Fernandez Jauregui, ’15, a Davis United World College Scholar, of Samaipata, Bolivia; Maria Alejandra Escalante ’16, a Davis United World College Scholar, of Bogota, Colombia; Rachel Wells ’15, of Warrenton, Va.; Michelle Pazmino ’17, of Quito, Ecuador; Julian Velez ’15, of Tepoztlan Morelos, Mexico; Sergio Cahueque ’17, of Guatemala City, Guatemala; Angela Valenzuela ’17, a Davis United World College Scholar, of Victoria, Chile; Maytik Avirama ’15 a Davis United World College Scholar, of Bogota, Colombia; Klever Descarpontriez ’16, a Davis United World College Scholar, of Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Omer Shamir, a Davis United World College Scholar, of Tel Aviv, Israel; and Sara Velander ’17, of Chesapeake Beach, Md. COA alumni attending include Nathan Thanki ’14, of Belfast, Northern Ireland; Juan Soriano ’11 of Washington, D.C.; and Juan Pablo Hoffmaister ’07, of San José, Costa Rica.

COP stands for “Conference of the Parties,” an annual international meeting of the member nations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where most of the decisions regarding climate change are taken. The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties is December 2015, in Paris, France.

The Lima talks are only the latest international climate forum for Earth in Brackets. Started by a group of COA students preparing to attend UN Climate Negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2006, the group has grown into an internationally recognized voice on issues of climate adaptation, food sovereignty, and sustainable development.

Also known by its symbol, [Earth], the group has attended numerous global conferences on the environment, world food security and sustainable development, including meetings pertaining to the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.

Here is the text of Khan’s remarks:

“Thank you, chair.

“My name is Aneesa and I speak on behalf of those who will live long enough to experience your legacy.

“Climate change isn’t my future, it is affecting me now. Weak vows, broken promises, low levels of ambition and high levels of passivity have led to the deplorable state of efforts to control climate change today. It is time for things to be done differently. We, the youth, believe it’s possible.

“For a real change, we need to shift our focus away from false solutions such as carbon markets. Carbon markets shift responsibility and burden away from developed nations through the offsetting mechanism, which is riddled with fraud and human rights abuses.

“It is uncertain whether markets will actually deliver what they promise. Will the UNFCCC be a place for real solutions or for making profits?

Aneesa Khan ’17Aneesa Khan ’17

“Parties are pushing once more for flexibility using a centralized carbon trading platform under the Framework for Various Approaches and the New Market Mechanisms to avoid their historical responsibilities. In one year, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and all parties should agree on a moratorium on failed carbon trading mechanisms and take up real non-market solutions, such as the globally funded feed-in tariff scheme and carbon taxes.

“Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+, lacks effective monitoring and safeguards. Emissions accountability is converted into offsetting and buyouts as opposed to reductions and change. This is yet another false solution.

“Interests of nations and transnational corporations are financially involved and invested in land use that demolishes the livelihoods of forest, land-based and indigenous communities.

“Acknowledgement of these peoples and proposals for climate-smart approaches are insufficient. It is mandatory that the voices of those working on the ground are at the forefront of a just and equitable approach to land use.

“Knowledge and technology will play a key part in future solutions, so it is important to ensure we do it right. We need a platform or mechanism for sharing technology and knowledge. It must allow multidirectional sharing, but also ensure contributions based on equity and common, but differentiated, responsibilities.

“Countries and communities need to have access to information and technology in order to find effective solutions for adaptation and mitigation, and existing barriers such as intellectual property rights need to be replaced or refined to ensure this happens.

“We demand a fair and just agreement, as well as, bold and immediate action to halt climate change. We will remain vigilant, and we will not hesitate to raise our voices if you do anything different.

“We have said what we have to say, it is time for you to do what you must do.

Thank you.”

Participants in the Lima climate talks are blogging in English and Spanish via the Earth in Brackets website, its Facebook page,  and Twitter. For more about Earth in Brackets, watch this video by Devin Altobello ’13, who followed the team in Durban, South Africa, in 2011.


College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit http://www.coa.edu.