Student to voice kiwi youths’ concerns about climate change

26 November 2009

Jenny Chu

University of Auckland engineering and law student Jenny Chu is off to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, tomorrow as part of the New Zealand Youth Delegation.

Jenny (21), who was born in Hong Kong and grew up on Auckland’s North Shore, was one of 12 people from around the country chosen to represent New Zealand’s youth at the conference, codenamed COP15. This is the first time New Zealand has sent a youth delegation to a UN Climate Change Conference.

World leaders will gather in Copenhagen for the conference between 7 and 18 December to try to come up with an agreement on what actions to take on climate change.

Jenny says this conference is especially important, with all parties at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007 having agreed to establish a new international climate agreement this year.

“With such a big decision to make like this, we felt it was important to involve youth. After all, in 15 or so year’s time we – and future generations – will be the ones left dealing with the problems created by climate change.”

Jenny and the other delegates have gathered feedback from youth about their views on climate change through a series of nation-wide consultation sessions. They will share this feedback with other youth from around the world at a special youth conference held in the two days before the main climate change event.

“We also plan to present a Team New Zealand spinnaker, donated by the Sir Peter Blake Trust, to the New Zealand politicians attending the conference. The spinnaker has written messages on it from young New Zealanders expressing their concerns about climate change.”

Jenny says the delegates intend to encourage the New Zealand Government to push for an ambitious international climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

“I believe that it’s the responsibility of all nations to act on climate change, regardless of their economic situation. While that level of responsibility may differ, growth based on fossil fuels is inherently unsustainable. We need to commit to stabilising carbon emissions if we are going to build a more sustainable planet.”

The company, Carbon Group, is sponsoring Jenny and other delegates to assess how much carbon emissions they produce while travelling to and from Denmark, and suggest ways for them to offset this.

Jenny is a member of the student environmental group Nexus Sustainability and this year she attended the U21 Summer School on climate change at Queensland University in Brisbane. Jenny is also a member of the NGO Engineers Without Borders at The University of Auckland, a group of professional and student engineers undertaking projects to directly improve the quality of life in communities within New Zealand and the South Pacific region.